Some great information on accessing the peak is in this PDF document.
Getting there: As described on pages 66-68 of the above PDF document.
On a previous activation attempt, I tried to climb using the more direct route along edge of the quarry on the north side of the mountain, but I lost the trail and I ran out of time due to other commitments later in the day. I decided to instead make an attempt climbing the western slope of the mountain, attempting to use the loop trail described in the book, except I would do an out-and-back hike instead of a loop in order to shorten the hike. I entered the location of the trail head into my Garmin and went there.
|Overexposed pic of trailhead. Lat/Long: N32 44.065" W114 45.450, looking east. Sun was rising, hence the overexposure.|
At that location I noticed two trails: One of the left/north, and one of the right/south. Given that I was going to do the out-and-back route, I selected the left trail and started climbing. The climb was steep but the well-defined trail made the route simpler, until I reached the crest of the first ridgeline. Here the trail disappeared. I ended up shifting to the left (north) a bit, and ultimately found a draw which led to a false summit. This false summit was at the far end of the east-west ridge which makes up crest of the mountain. From this spot the going was a bit easier, with numerous trails visible and with the summit in view.
|The mountain was made of a mixture of sharp granite and a softer conglomerate (I think). The softer rock eroded away in places, leaving holes and small caves. Bats, which I had noticed on my first attempted climb, probably live in many of these small caves.|
|This cairn was located at the false summit. My APRS capable handheld's packets were first picked up at this point.|
|The ridge from the location of the false summit, leading to the peak. Yuma, Arizona can be seen beyond the mountain.|
|Getting closer to the summit. A Gipfelkreuz!--although not as ornate as those in the Old World.|
|The Summit Cross was made of wood, and appears to be installed into the foundation of the old KIVA television transmitting tower.|
|My Pilot Knob activation log on SOTAData.|
As for my spotting technique, I self-spotted using the web browser on my phone. I could have easily self-spotted using APRS, SMS, SOTA Goat, and likely the Reverse Beacon Network. AT&T cell signals were plentiful, and APRS coverage, once on the summit and out of the draws, was fine:
|My APRS breadcrumbs from the false summit leading to the summit.|
|At the false summit, by APRS packets were received by the BAJA digipeater, perhaps 50 miles away. I am N0PCL-7.|
|At the summit, my APRS packets were received at the K7ACS digipeater. I worked K7ACS on 446.0 during the activation as well.|
|The view into Mexico from the summit. The US-Mexican border is very visible.|
A few other notes for a future activation:
- You are operating very close to the Mexican border. The place is crawling with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. I recommend you carry identification on your person in order or alleviate suspicions that might ruin your activation attempt.
- It's a short hike, and not too strenuous, but I still recommend you bring a good amount of water. On the day I hiked this peak, it was in the mid-80s before the sun came up, and there's not much shade (no shade, actually).