Backbone Mountain, WV
Backbone Mountain (W8V/PH-058) is located near Thomas, West Virginia and is a walk up summit right off the road. Several communications towers are the top and there is plenty of parking at the base.
This would be the last summit activation on my 8 day road trip. I had planned on activating Weiss Knob near Davis, WV but the weather temperatures were in the teens with winds in the 20’s giving sub-zero temperatures.
Summit Name: Backbone Mtn, (W8V/PH-058)
Location: Thomas, WV
Date: January 23rd, 2021
Points: 8 + 3 (Winter Bonus)
County: Tucker County
Weather: Partly cloudy, 13 degrees
On a Scale of 1 to 5
As part of my master SOTA plan of activating a SOTA summit in every state that has one, I had already completed one in WV . This was part of my 8 day road trip through the south and part of the midwest.
Once we arrived at the parking lot, my wife took one look at the weather and current temperatures and wisely chose to stay in the car. I suited up with a my Patagonia Nanopuff, Down Jacket and a ECWCS Level 4 wind breaker. To top it off I had on my Everest expedition hat that I got last year in Washington state. For pants I had mid weight Capilene tights and ECWCS Level 5 soft shell pants.With the wind gusting at 20mph and 13 degree temperatures, I was looking at sub-zero temperatures and even with all that gear on, I figured I would have max time of 15 to 30 minutes before getting back in the car.
My wife, being much smarter than myself asked,”Why don’t we just drive up to the summit?” It was a good question as they had recently plowed and would have been very doable. But that takes all the fun out of it, so I threw on my micro spikes and briskly walked up to the summit. This was more of a test to see how long I could last. I wasn’t really expecting to full this off successfully. At the summit, I decided to go VHF as the time to set up and tear down HF wasn’t doable. While my core was warm, my legs and hands were not. I was wearing gloves but really needed mittens with liners for this activation. I managed one contact with a local who was 2 miles away. He was excited about the activation and wanted a lot of details; while I was trying to make it a short contact.
At this point I pretty much couldn’t feel my hands and had bypassed uncomfortable and straight to pain. I finished up my QSO and quickly tried for any other contacts with no takers.
I can honestly say this was the only activation that I didn’t tear down my antenna before hiking down. I carried my Arrow antenna down the summit in hand as my fingers had pretty much stopped being useful at this point. Made it to the car where the real fun began. My wife drove which was good as this was part where my insanely cold fingers started getting warm and getting very painful. This lasted for about 30 minutes.
I should note my wife kept track of the time and said I was gone for 20 minutes which I think is pretty reasonable considering the environment I found myself in. I can say if I had to spend an hour out in that I would have been in serious trouble. My wife has recently introduced me to is using hand warmers inside of gloves or mittens. They can really help keep manual dexterity. Next time I am taking my dummy corded mittens to alleviate these issues.
One last thing to note, is that this was the only time I found ice buildup on my antenna elements. I really need a carbon fiber boom as aluminum is terrible for winter activations due to it being a large heat sink to the hands.
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