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Report from Capulin Volcano

Posted: Sun Mar 26, 2023 12:14 pm
by w0rw
Capulin Volcano, New Mexico Operation, W5C

Capulin Volcano is not one of the Southwest's major attractions, partly due to its isolated location in the far northeast corner of New Mexico, well away from other popular destinations. The land hereabouts is a transition zone between the high plains of north Texas-west New Mexico and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, containing mostly arid prairie, used for cattle rather than agriculture, and crossed by numerous small ravines and washes, with occasional hilly outcrops.
The hills and mesas become higher further west, and the region between Clayton and Raton additionally has many scattered volcanic peaks - dormant volcanoes and cinder cones, all part of a great line of volcanism stretching from southeast Colorado into Arizona
Most of the peaks are quite small, rising just a few hundred feet above the plains, but one of the largest and best preserved is the 1,000 foot high Capulin Volcano, located between the small towns of Folsom and Capulin, and proclaimed a national monument in 1916.

I picked the special call sign of ‘W5C’ assigned for obvious reasons.
This HF backpack operation started on 1800z, It was a sunny day with temperatures around +55F. There was still some snow on the road and on the trails. The Capulin Volcano has a perfectly formed cone and the rim rises above the NM plains to an elevation of 8182 feet.
The crater diameter is 1450 feet. (Arecibo was 1000 feet in diameter). It consists chiefly of loose cinders, ash, and other rock debris. These materials were ejected during successive eruptions and fell back upon the vent, piling up to form the conical mountain.
The symmetry of Capulin Volcano was preserved because lava did not flow from the main crater but from secondary vents located at the western base of the cone. Evidence of the other episodes of volcanic activity can be seen in nearly 100 nearby volcanic peaks and lava capped mesas.
You can see a picture of it at

Capulin means 'Choke Cherry' in Spanish, My favorite fruit.

I found no Arecibo type gain or hot spots as I walked around the crater, except that the top rim at 8182 feet was the best place for radio operations. This is not like walking around in a baseball field backstop it takes time to circumnavigate the rim. It took 15 minutes to go from the north rim to the south rim, and almost an hour to walk around the rim loop trail which is one mile and rises about 300 feet above the lower rim.

The Bottom of the Crater is a big -20 dB RF hole. No one down there had Cell service either. My XYL (Sharon N0OPM) made a few contacts on 146.52 FM and she did the frequency changing on my backpack radio. I can't reach any of the controls when it is on my back, so she would push the buttons to change frequencies and retune the antenna. I depleted 1 NiCad, and two Li ion batteries after 6 hours of operation and had six spares on hand. The PRC319 was running 50W all the time and the ten foot whip had a top hat on 30, 40 and 60 meters.

i worked several station from the bottom of the crater on 20 meters CW.
W3BBO Bob, running 1.5W to a vertical. K6DBG, N8EPE, WB3FOX, W6JRY, N7QU, VE7NH, VE3SIE who made a recording of my signals, WA6RIK, K6BZZ, K0RHK, KJ5GT, KC0TOH, WK8S, WG0AT 175 mile Ground Wave QSO, N6JF, and WA2TDL
Thanks to every one who was listening for me. I could have never made this many contacts without you all being out there.

Paul w0rw