White Mountain Amateur Radio Club's
3rd Annual Backcountry VE Session
Harvard Cabin, Mt. Washington, NH
February 18, 2017
Thank You for your interest in the 3rd Annual Backcountry VE Session. Many of you know that Marcia and I are shameless promoters of the hobby that is Amateur Radio (ham radio). Many of you also endure the endless harassment that goes with our promotion of the utility of radio, especially among our mountain friends! Put a stop to the persistent nagging and earn your ham radio license already!
The White Mountain Amateur Radio Club will once again be hosting a Volunteer Exam Session at the Harvard Cabin on Febuary 18, 2017. Testing will being around 12:00 PM. However, there is a degree of flexibility with this event to account for weather and trail conditions. We have a high level of interest again this year so we'll make sure not to leave anyone out in the cold. All license class level exams will be offered. So, weather you are new to the hobby or an "old fist", if you spend time in the mountains, we'd sure love to have you stop by for this years VE Session and special event station. The Harvard Cabin is open to the public. All are welcome to stop-by, anytime. Click here for photos of last years session!
Please let us know if you are planning on attending and in what capacity you would like to participate (VE, Testing, Radio Operator, Just Visiting). Please fill out this simple form, it will probably take you less then a minute. This way, I can stay organized while on the mountain and away from computers, phones, and e-mail. Thanks for your help.
Please contact us with any questions you might have! We look forward to seeing you on February 18th, if not before.
Harvard Cabin Caretaker
Rich and Marcia
KB1WDW & KB1WEP
Cabin Caretakers 2016/17
Calling Volunteer Examiners
This year, we'll need at least 3 Extra Class Volunteer Examiners in addition to others who've expressed interest in exercising their responsibilities as VE's. 3 exams will be administered, one for each license class - Technician, General, & Amateur Extra.
We plan to utilize all Volunteer Examiners who show up. That way, the team isn't stuck head-down into the answer key for all three elements. All VE's who attend will also get to sign a Certificate of Completion so everyone can get on the rolls. There will be plenty of experience to be gained by all VE's if so desired. Please complete the quick and easy form and confirm you're interest in serving as VE for this very special event.
Special Event Station - W1M
Once again, Paul Bilodeau, W1GAN, has secured the special event call sign to commemorate the VE Session. The plan is to operate QRP on the HF Bands from the Harvard Cabin. Details to come once we have an idea of capabilities and band conditions. Last year we made about 50 contacts including some National Parks on the Air Stations. Bands didn't really open up until after sunset....oh well. Better luck this year!
About the Harvard Cabin
The Harvard Cabin, elevation 3520' ASL, is public-use cabin located on the east side of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. The Cabin was built and is maintained by the Harvard Mountaineering Club. The cabin is open to the public and serves primarily as a base camp for ice climbers accessing technical terrain in nearby Huntington Ravine.
Overnight accommodation to the cabin is available on a first-come, first serve basis. Those wishing to stay overnight will need to sign-up at Pinkham Notch before heading up the trail. Cabin usage is limited to 16 guests per night. Advanced Registration is not available. Overnight camping is also available around the cabin. However, those wishing to utilize tent space, will need to arrive fully equipped for winter camping.
Foot travel to the cabin is the only mode of access. The 2-mile, uphill trek is considered moderate to difficult over snow-covered trails. The Trail head is located at Pinkham Notch between Gorham and Jackson, NH. Those interested in making the journey should be experienced winter hikers, preferably having spent time on Mt. Washington in the recent past. Given all that needs to happen to have a successful event, folks attending need to be self-sufficient in terms of gear, experience, and physical ability. Of course, help is only a push button away. We'll mostly likely have a crew or two shuttle supplies up from the parking lot, so it will be easy to fall-in line and travel in a small groups, if necessary. Most everyone receiving this message has been to the cabin before and should be familiar with the variety of conditions that occur on Mt. Washington. Arrive prepared and be willing to alter your plans (turn-back) if something isn't right for you.
Why the Harvard Cabin?
The VE session at the Harvard Cabin was the dream of KB1WDW and KB1WEP. Rich and Marcia are the long-time caretakers of the Harvard Cabin. Enthusiastic hams, they are shameless promoters of the hobby and have had a hand in seeing that some 20+ new calls have been assigned to new radio amateurs over the last few years. They hope that the Harvard Cabin will continue to serve as an outpost for recruiting new radio amateurs who will take new found skills into the great mountain ranges around the World.
What can I expect of the cabin?
The cabin is rustic in the true sense of the word. There is no running water, electricity, or plumbing. Water used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning is provided by the nearby Cutler River. There is an outhouse/latrine close to the cabin. There are full-kitchen amenities available for cabin guests. This includes a gas cook range and common house hold cook gear, dishware, and utensils. The cabin is not heated during the day. Inside cabin temperatures normally hover around 50 Degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended that everyone brings dry layers to change into upon arrival along with a warm coat. A wood stove is lit at 4PM daily.
What should I bring to the test session?
Everyone wishing to test should bring a government issued photo ID, a copy of your current amateur radio license (if applicable), and $15.00 Cash, a Pencil, and Calculator (if needed). Oh, and your HT if you have one, of course! We monitor 146.520 Mhz and Mt. Cranmore Repeater 145.450
Will There be Food Available?
Yes. As is typical of hams, we like to celebrate with good food! Last year we had a bit of a pot luck. This year, we hope to do more of the same. We will coordinate more as we get closer to the day. Certainly, everyone should bring their own sustenance in the form of hardy snacks and consider contributing to a group meal in some way, if possible. Many hams make light the work :)
Most likely the cabin will be occupied for the weekend by climbers. So, overnight accommodation may or may not be available. If you wish to secure a spot for the night, you will need to sign-up at the Visitors Center before heading up the trail. Ask for the Harvard Cabin Register at the front desk in the Trading Post. Click here for a detailed bullet list about staying at the cabin.
What about Bad Weather?
We'll have a back-up day of Sunday, Feb 22, 2016 in the event of bad weather. If we have a significant weather event effect the region for the weekend the VE session at the cabin will likely be cancelled and may or may not be rescheduled this year. Don't worry, in such a case we will likely be able to get folks tested in a more hospitable environment. Let's keep our fingers crossed for good weather!
Where to begin in the world of Amateur Radio?
If you are interested but, not sure where to start, fear not. You too can join the increasing number of backcountry travelers who have joined the ranks of radio operators. There have been many who caved to the Marcia's persuasive wit and so far haven't any regrets except for not having done it sooner! The utility of radio is not only fun, it is also a great way to increase safety for yourself and your group. But, don't take my word for it. Read this short White Paper presented as part of the International Snow Science Workshop 2012 titled TALKING THE TALK:Human Factors, Group Communication, and the Next Frontier in Snow Safety.
The Ham Radio License Manual, published by the American Radio Relay League, is all you'll need to pass your test. The book may be available at your local bookstore or library. Check there first or order from Amazon by clicking here.
Study time is about an hour a day for a week. Then you take a 35-question, multiple choice test. Get 26 correct and you'll be issued your own callsign and have instant access to the Harvard Cabin from anywhere in the world...I kid you not! Pricing for high-powered, light-weight, handheld transceivers begins ~$30 US. Click here to browse! Order your book and radio today. You still have plenty of time to prepare!
We hope to see you on February 18th! It will be a fun and memorable event!