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2x10 points in 1 day. Moncayo EA2/ZG-001 & Peña Negrilla EA1/SO-003 by EA2IF/P on 02/06/2018


#1

As a pre-planning post I wrote to warn you all that I was planning to activate 2 SOTA of 10 points each taking advantage of my trip to Tudela 100Km South of my QTH to take my daughter and 2 friends of her for a visit-party with other girls friends of them living there.
You can see both mountains far in the distance with snow on their tops in this picture I took some time ago from near my QTH in Pamplona.

Well, everything happened as planned except for the drive from Tudela to the start point (140Km in total from my QTH), which took me a bit longer than expected and also the hike was long and tough.
At the start point, I met JAP, my ex-colleague of my University times, who has lately become my usual companion of SOTA activations.

This is the track we followed. We took the upper branch, which took us to the T-junction you can see in the image:

That T-Junction was the col between the 2 mountains:
imagen

We started our hike with some fog.

We found some few patches of snow, which were very much enjoyed by Lucho, the dog:

After about 75 minutes of hike, we reached the col where the T-junction in the GPS track is and this was the impressive Mt. Moncayo EA2/ZG-001 seen from there:

I decided to go to Moncayo EA2/ZG-001 first, because I had never activated the EA2/ZG region before and with the low clouds of storm developing in the valley at the North side of the mountain we were not sure to be able to carry out the second activation of the day.

I took this picture shortly after having started the final ascent to Moncayo and you can see my friend JAP after leaving the col between the 2 mountains and our second planned summit of the day in the background.

After a tough final ascent, I reached the summit about 2 hours after our start and I quickly set up with my fishing pole attached to the trig point cylinder and myself sitting at the Northern side of the summit:

The WX was changing quickly and while we were in the summit, we passed from sunshine to clouds, to cold wind and we could also hear the thunders down in the valley. We even got some few drops of rain at the summit.

This is a very popular summit and there were only 2 other people when we reached the summit but more than 20 or 30 when we left it. With so much crowd and the thunders being heard down in the Northern valley, I only activated on CW.
23 QSOs in the log, 4 of which were S2S and I even had the pleasure to log 2 DX from USA.
This is the full log:

This is the S2S log:
imagen

I quickly packed up and we descended with serious doubts about whether activating the second summit of the day Peña Negrilla EA1/SO-003 would be possible.

When we got down to the col between the 2 mountains, there were still thunders coming from the Norhtern valley of the mountain and also big clouds were coming and entering towards this second summit.
We had a while of hesitation but I finally decided to go for it.

Another tough hike, which despite being it shorter than the first one, it was the second one of the day and the effort already done up to this point, made it feel almost as tough as the first one if not more.
I reached the summit first and I found that instead of a trig point, there was a big cairn, which I nicely used to hold my fishing rod in vertical position.
This is the picture of the antenna set-up which I took right before dismanteling for descent.

When I was setting up the antenna wire was catching a lot of static and I was constantly receiving electrical discharges on my hands from the wire and its connector I have in it to plug into the box with the un-un. However, I decided to go ahead and try a quick activation.
I also buried the end of the counterpoise wire on the ground and this seemed to help to discharge the static in the endfed wire.
When I started the activation, the QRN was severe and I was even receiving small electrical discharges on my ears coming from the headphones.
With all these constrains, this was an even shorter activation.
I started CQing and Manuel EA2DT chased me first, after which he spotted me. Then I got a number of chasers but less numerous than in my previous activation.
A total of 12 QSOs in the log and 1 S2S.
This is the full log:
imagen

And this is the S2S log:
imagen

Congrats and thanks, Heinz @HB9BCB for having chased me S2S on the 2 summits.

Due to the thunders still being heard, when no more chasers called in, I announced QRT, packed up and we descended, which took us nearly another 2 hours.

Before leaving the summit of Peña Negrilla, I took this picture of Mt. Moncayo:

Once at the parking, we put everything in the trunck and went for a drink to the bar by the Sanctuary of Moncayo, which was very close to where we had parked to start the hike.
There we learnt that all those thunders we were hearing while we were in the summits, poured very heavy rain and sleet down and also in the Sanctuary where we were at now.

We started our hike at 08h17 utc and got back to the car at 15h00 utc. A very enjoyed long time in the mountains, a very good hike and 2 SOTA of 10 points each activated.

Thanks dear chasers for your calls and QSOs.

73,

Guru


#2

Nice report, Guru!
I‘m trying to imagine what it feels like when sparks keep coming out of my earplugs :flushed:

Glad you made it back to the car safely!

73, Roman - DL3TU


#3

Absolutely amazing Guru! I am sure that would have put me off activating even though like you I am driven to activate despite adversity once I have made the effort and reached the summit. Pleased to hear that both you and the rig survived. Many thanks for an excellent report which brought back memories of some of the hard days in the hills that I have experienced. The rock strewn summit of Moncayo EA2/ZG-001 certainly reminded me of a few that I have activated.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#4

Hi Roman,
Glad that you liked the report.

I have had this before in other SOTA activations and also while operating from summits before I met SOTA. Honestly, it’s quite a nasty feeling and should it had extended a bit longer in time or increased a bit the strength of the discharges, I’d surely had gone QRT right away. I even had to take out my left earplug in the very beginning, but after a while I put it back in my ear in it felt like the effect started to gradually reduce until it fully vanished, thus letting me stay and go ahead with the activation until no more chasers called in.
I have the feel that burying the end of the counterpoise wire in the ground was very good to facilitate a discharging path to the static building up at the summit in that moment.

Yes, me too. And we even made it completely dry, except for our own sweat! :slight_smile:

73,

Guru


#5

Hi Gerald,
Thanks for your comment. I’m very glad that you liked the report.

The electrical discharges on my hands really surprised me a lot and I was very close to abandon, but I quickly thought that creating an electrical path for all that static to ground would help to discharge it and I decided to give it a try.
I know I was possibly trespassing the limits of safety for many people’s view, but, despite not having worked on it in my entire professional life, I’m an electrical engineer and I still remember a few things about this.
Erecting high the endfed wire and burying the counterpoise wire in ground probably preserved us rather than putting us at risk, as this probably contributed to discharge the amount of static starting to build up in the air around the summit area.
It was like building a lightning rod.

73,

Guru


#6

Very well done Guru. Intrepid is the word. You took a risk but it paid off with a goodly number of QSOs.

I have had quite a few electric shocks and fat blue sparks on summits, including one that wiped out the squelch circuit on my Icom handheld. However, I have never experienced it in the ears. I would have felt a lot of fear if that had happened to me. I have a wire and welding rod tucked in the back of my IC706 for just this purpose. It usually works pretty well. This and heat are the problems of summer activating with ticks and lies a close third.

Well done and thanks for a very nice report and photos. I would like to see a close-up photo of the dog please. Preferably the one with all the hair standing on end! He’s a brave animal.

73,John


#7

1 day of full activating, 2 part days activating while driving 2x 260km, 8x summits, for 80pts. Longest walk 23mins uphill. Some associations have some easy summits.

Best QSO ? Working Alan GW4VPX who is starting to get his CW mojo back. Sounds FB TO ME Alan.

Nice pics Guru.


#8

Hi John,
With the digital cameras and smartphones and laptops and so on, we all have so many pictures that unless you are a very disciplined and organised person or you end up having hundreds of pictures here, there and everywhere. So much that it’s hard to find the ones you want when you want them.
I wanted to show you some specific nice ones I remember of our dog Lucho, but these are the ones I’ve found, which are not bad however.
We got him in 2012 from a nearby kennel at the age of 1.5 months aprox.
We were living in a house and the dog used to spend all day out in the garden, entering to the garage at nights only for sleep.
Since the very beginning, he started to come with me to the mountains.
Being outdoors all the time, we used to have it with the hair long for him to be warm in winter and we only cut his hair for the short summer we usually have in this area.
This is a picture of him that I like very much with long hair during a SOTA in Mt. Borrokosko.
imagen

These are other pictures.
imagen imagen

Since we moved from the house in the village to a rental appartment in the city of Pamplona, we have him with short hair and he now looks like this:

I admit I had never been too fan of dogs and I got this one when he was a puppy mainly for my daughters, with the idea of making it more attractive for them the moving from Madrid to where we live now in my birthland Navarra back in 2012. But this dog is so absolutely nice, loyal, smart, strong and fantastic that I have simply fell in love with him and I can’t thing of a SOTA activation without his great company.

73,

Guru


#9

Thanks for the write up Guru. A very good effort. The dog enjoyed it too I think.

73
Ron
VK3AFW


#10

Hi Guru,

Thanks for the Lucho photos. A good looking dog and if he hurts a paw, small enough to carry if you have to. Sasha weighs 28kg but if you want to make progress across a bed of nettles, you end up lifting her up and walking through. A good idea to make him more comfortable in summer. Dogs do suffer in heat but a mountaintop is cooler.

Human relationship with the dog goes back so far, it’s easy to love them and develop bonds as strong as with our fellow humans. It’s a shame they don’t live a bit longer because they often end up as equal members of the family.

I see you got Lucho for your daughters and now you are the main walker. It’s the same with me. My Grandson & his Mum own Sasha but I walk her daily. I tried to discourage them from getting a dog but now I feel the opposite. Strange how a pet can really get under your skin.

Thanks again Guru. We could form a SOTA dog club. I know of at least half a dozen ops who take dogs on SOTA’s.

73, John


#11

Hi again, John. Sasha is a good looking dog too.
Regarding weight, Lucho is 22.5 Kg.
This is one of the nice pictures I had of him and I couldn’t find the other day in my laptops. It was in my smartphone microSD external card…

I think there have been other threads before proposing or starting something like this, but it seems they never progressed much far. I guess, there’s not so much to say and write about our loyal SOTA companions…
There is much more to say and exchange about our activation experiences,
73,

Guru