Odd question for Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes peakI’m sure that most of you are familiar with Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain”. If you look at it up close, you might wonder about the cool, thin air at its 14,000-foot apex. You might think of the amazing views from the top, or the interesting wildlife you could encounter along the way. If you have a historical bent, you could consider how its roads and facilities have changed in the past 100 years.

Me, I wondered how many TV stations you could see from there.

This Labor Day weekend, I set out to find the answer. As the crow flies, Pikes Peak is only 57.4 miles from FTAList world headquarters, but the drive is a bit longer than that. It takes about 75 miles to reach the entrance of the Pikes Peak Highway, and then it’s another 19 miles of twisty, steep road to the top. The Pikes Peak Highway was a lot more adventurous, or dangerous, back when the top 10 miles or so were unpaved and completely without guardrails. Now that it’s paved all the way up, it feels more like a drive through a park, although the rest of the family tightly gripped their armrests while gazing out the side windows into glorious oblivion.

TV setup on Pikes PeakAfter we reached the summit parking area, I got out my gear. My portable digital TV setup is currently a rebranded Hauppage HVR-950 that I got from FilmOn (much more about that in a future post), a 6-inch antenna, and a laptop with enough horsepower to run TV viewing software. I set it up on the viewing stand near the southeast corner (see photo), but a scan only picked up about a dozen channels. Maybe the metal fence was in the way?

I relocated to a convenient ledge on the north side of the visitors center there and ran another scan. A few minutes later, I had 49 channels on my list. I didn’t recognize some of the call letters, so I set the laptop to hibernate, put it away, and went inside to feast on Pikes Peak’s world famous high-altitude doughnuts.

Back at FTAList world headquarters, I unpacked the laptop and checked the call signs. Turns out that it had picked up possibly every TV station between Cheyenne WY (almost 160 miles away) and the peak, except the channels of Colorado Springs, which sits just to the east of the mountain. That included a low-power station in Denver and several other Denver-area stations that I can’t scan in from here.

Unfortunately, each scan erases the results of the previous scan, so I don’t know which stations I picked up from the other side of the summit. That’ll give me a reason to return, other than magnificent scenic beauty and doughnuts.

This cornucopia of channels might be important. What if Aereo or a similar company put a bank of tiny antennas in a box on top of the Pikes Peak visitors center, then sent those signals along to subscribers? It could be a selling point, a way to differentiate its service from what you can get at home with rabbit ears. Mountaintop TV could be really cool.

UPDATE: Check the comments for the TVFool link with the precise list of the channels you can see on Pikes Peak. I had no idea TVFool knew about mountains.