Whitaker Peak

Chester the Drone takes a nice shot looking west over the station to the wilds around Cobblestone Mountain. Topotopo Mountain and Hines Peak also visible.

13 AUGUST 2022 W6/SC-076

Route: Mostly good road, brushy cross country last half mile
Hike Distance: 9 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,250′ on the way out plus 150′ on the return
Navigation: Easy
Steepness: Mostly very easy with one short steep section
Vehicle: Passenger car
Road: Paved
Cell Coverage: Indeterminate.
Hike basics

It had been 28 years since I last ascended this mountain with my brother and I only had a hazy recollection of the hike as being a short one after a long drive up a dirt road. This time around the road was closed at the old Golden State Highway up from Templin Highway. I knew it was going to be a long hike on what was going to be a hot day so it was a good thing I set out from Whitedog at 5:20 AM. A waning gibbous moon illuminated my path until the dawn twilight took over. All the bright winter stars were glittering in the east and I look forward to the cooler temperatures that the fall will bring.

The hike follows a gentle grade and a good paved road over a near ridge with a communications facility at the top. Befitting the capricious nature of road closings in the Angeles National Forest this year 6N53 has remained closed all summer for reasons who-knows-why.

In retrospect this would’ve been a very nice mountain bike ride — certainly I would’ve loved it coming back. I thought about including unnamed summit 4,020′ W6/CT-263 in this trip and a mountain bike probably would’ve made that possible for me. Why Whitaker is a SC and 4,020 is a CT is yet another of the vagaries of the SOTA brain trust.

The second communications facility on the road is not on the actual summit of Whitaker and is not in the activation zone. You must leave the trail before that point and scramble up an extremely steep and loose embankment to make the ridge. From here it is a very bushy walk back east to the summit. If I had bothered to read my own notes from my 1995 ascent, I might’ve brought a pair of clippers to cut through the worst of it.

Once on the summit I found my iPhone did not connect to the network. I suspect it just needed to be rebooted as this is a problem I had been having with my old version of iOS (PS I HATE iOS). Added to that my Yaesu FT-5D had to go back to the mothership in Cyprus for warranty repair of a cracked case that has been plaguing this particular model. Added to that is the fact that since I got my new iPhone I have neglected to load the Garmin InReach app to make texting via the Iridium Satellite Network actually usable and all this added up to no ability to self spot.

Fortunately faithful chaser Mike KI6SLA posted some spots for me so I was able to work a lot of the usual suspects.

A couple of really nice surprises: I had 152 mile summit-to-summit with 11 year old Levi KN6UIB and his dad Jacob W6RWS along with Chris N1CLC on Iron Mountain way down San Diego County way. That was really cool. I had worked Levi and Jacob on a similar VHF DX of Denk Mountain earlier this year.

Second: just tuning around on 20m because I had no spots available to me, I came across AE7AP totally randomly on Stonewall Mountain in Montana for a fortuitous summit-to-summit.

It was also great to catch Keith K9TPR back home in Topanga and a bunch of other faithful chasers.

On the way down I made a fateful mistake. I thought I’d seen a use trail coming up from the last saddle on the road, so I decided to try an do a short cut directly down the north ridge. I cannot state emphatically enough: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS! What started out as a nice use/game trail along the ridge quickly became a very steep bushwacking nightmare. I had to remove my pack and fiberglass poles and crawl through the underbrush throwing my trekking poles and the fiberglass poles over the thick brush ahead. By this time it had gotten really hot and the work of even going 20 feet was exhausting. Even though I had a liter of water, it was not enough. When I got home I saw in AA6XA’s fine video that he was also thinking about this route, so I know I am not the only one to consider this. He was smart to go back the longer way we both came I repeat: DO NOT DO IT!

Nice Chester shot looking north at Slide Mountain (center), Frazier Mountain and Alamo Mountain to the left.
Looking west at sunrise to Hines, Topotopo and Cobblestone
Looking northeast over the summit to Libre Mountain

Published by wringmaster

I'm a graphic artist in the movie business. When I was a kid I got interested in astronomy. When it would get too cloudy to observe the heavens, my buddy and I would sit at the VFO of his Hallicrafters S 38c like safe crackers trying to coax faraway signals out of that humble radio. My love of astronomy and radio survive to this day fifty+ years later.

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