Radio Support… Montana style

Dan, KG5PVP is a QTH hopper. 

He rotates his stays between Houston and a remote QTH in the Kootenai national forest area of northwest Montana.  Dan splits his ham participation between three clubs:  K5HOU/CLARC, W5RRR/JSCARC and KLBY/LCARG.  LCARG is the Lincoln County Amateur Radio Group located in Libby Montana.

This past weekend Dan participated with the LCARG and other participating regional ham clubs and personnel in the annunal CHAFE 150 (  The CHAFE 150 is like a rugged killer version of our Texas MS150, and covers a 150 mile route through a range along the Rocky Mountains crossing into adjacent regions of Idaho and Montana.  The event offers 6 different routes of (grueling) difficulty from 25 miles to 150 miles, including a special 55 and 75 mile crazy GRAVEL route.

This type of event, especially across mountainous terrian, exemplifies how ham radio can effectively provides support comm where other traditional services cannot.  It’s worthy to note that our causual Houston fun runs, bike and event support via HTs and a Net Control are all similar in intent as Dan’s support role in the CHAFE 150. 

For all cases, these exercises are extremely important to develop and enhance our radio readiness for when emergencies happen.  And it’s a reminder that we are now entering another hurricane season in Houston…

Many thanks to Dan for sharing his ham experience in Montana.  BTW, he hopes to work us Field Day; he’s be operating club call K7LBY in a park in Libby, Montana with his fellow LCARG club members.  73  Dave W5OC


Comments from Dan, KG5PVP:

Remind me to tell more about the crazy bike race I worked last Saturday (CHAFE 150). We had rain, wind, hail, snow and very cold temps. About 160 riders started, and less than 40 finished.  The rest were either dropouts or evacuated due to the onset of hypothermia. Is this mid June?? Craziest day I’ve had in a long time. I was working the road race (150 and 80 mile circuits), but there was also a 75 and 55 mile mountain section on gravel roads that hit a pass around 5,300 feet. Several of those riders got trapped in heavy snow near the pass and had to be rescued. The snow line was just below 4,000 feet, and the rescue was still going on when I got home at 18:30. That’s when I stopped monitoring.  Fortunately everyone got home safely.  Attached are a few pictures from where I was stationed.

We knew it was going to be a bit cool with some chance of rain, but things really went upside down within the first couple of hours into the ride. Most of the riders that made it to my station (at mile 110), went on to finish, except one, who was the second to the last rider on the course. Most were quite cold and wet, and several couldn’t even get their water bottles opened to refill due to cold fingers/hands. 

We had great comm and managed to cover the whole course with just one repeater and some really good antennas. Net Control had a directional 2M yagi up at about 40 feet pointed right at our repeater located on a mountain top at about 6,600 feet. It’s really nice to have mountains for repeaters, although power in the winter can be a challenge! Fortunately, this one is collocated with county and state law enforcement, so it has very reliable power and almost never goes down. 

Photo of snowline by town of Heron, located between the Cabinet and Bitterroot Mountains.

The jeep is mine, and the truck was Joel Cobb W7JFO. He’s VP of the Lincoln County ARG, which I am also a member. Joel had our HF station running on 40 meters, but we didn’t need it because the 2 meter worked very well. 

Heron water stop for weary racers.

Flatland verses mountains is definitely a different world. We get up to about 50 miles of coverage from a repeater at high elevation under perfect conditions, unless you’re in a canyon or behind another big mountain. The valley floors are around 2,000 feet, more or less, but with lots of mountains in between.  

I attached 2 maps showing straight line distance between the repeater and net control (38 miles)  from the repeater to my station (31 miles).  I hit it very well with just a twin lead J-Pole on a 25 ft pole, but as you can see, I only had a few mountains in my way, so the propagation worked.

The following photos were take from Facebook and are credited  to Jason Duchow Photography.

Breakfast of champions

Ham Radio- the backbone of communications across a diverse and rugged course across 150 miles.

Unexpected snow fall (in June!?)

Signature of incoming wx approaching.

Shorts in the snow.  Huh?

Leave a Comment