G4YSS Activation of EA8/ LP-002 Deseadas on 07-04-14
Report 1 of 4 in EA8/LP series.
EA8/LP Series of Reports:
Report 1 of 4. LP2 on 07-04-14, THIS REPORT:
Report 2 of 4. LP3 on 10-04-14, inc. AM band DX see:
Report 3 of 4. LP1 on 14-04-14, see:
Report 4 of 4. LP2 on 16-04-14, see:
This was the opener for three SOTA summits which had first come to my notice in 2012 as being unactivated. I started preparations for this expedition in October of that year, initially by purchasing maps, walking guides and preparing GPS routes. It took a further seven months to talk my XYL into it.
La Palma was new to me; the only Spanish territory previously explored being EA8 Gran Canaria and EA6 Majorca, where I had climbed the 1,364m high Puig de Massanella. What better place could there be for a SOTA activator than an island with three untouched ten pointers? In reality amateur radio had been used previously from at least two of these summits. The first time was well before they came on line as SOTA’s and on a later occasion only three QSO’s were made. For some reason these were not registered in the database.
Since this was to be thinly disguised as a holiday, we booked a package deal with Thomson’s Travel Agents in Scarborough’s high street, some twelve months in advance. To make it more believable, I suggested that we invite my Grandson Jack and his Mum along. The cost was not inconsiderable at over 4,600 GBP for four people but the La Palma Princess Hotel (N28 30.168 W17 52.486) is all inclusive and the above cost embodied two week car hire, aircraft seat pre-booking and a ‘late flight’ room extension on the last day.
When it came to La Palma, there didn’t seem to be much choice of tour companies going there so we went ahead with the Thomson booking and have had absolutely no regrets. Flight time from Manchester UK is four hours, plus or minus 10 minutes (B737-800).
Radio and Walking Gear:
Not long after the booking came an exhaustive top-to-bottom equipment review followed by a full update after consideration of the best options available. As well as radio gear, lighter walking clothing was purchased.
Basically, the radio kit used is listed under ‘equipment’ for each activation but a Chinese backup rig in the form of the new Xiegu Technology X1M Platinum 5-Band CW/ SSB HF-QRP rig was taken in case the FT817ND should fail on the island with little chance of repair. The object of the exercise throughout was that no single failure would put me off the air. Other than the activator himself, there would always be redundancy and recourse to an alternative should the need arise.
General items included a recently home-brewed suction mount paired with HF mobile whips for use with the hire car along with a pair of Jingtong JT208 handhelds for general use and to provide third-line (probably useless) backup.
Obviously this approach has a weight penalty and we only had a standard baggage allowance of 20kg and 5kg for hand luggage. That made 80kg for the four of us with a maximum for a single suitcase of 23kg. In the event we were just inside these limits but not by much. Since I was taking plenty of ‘toys’ of my own, I couldn’t really complain about my six-year old grandson Jack’s suitcase being packed with Spiderman figures, Star Wars space ships and related items.
Because I am almost paranoid about sunshine and heat, a legionnaire’s hat was included as essential equipment. Warnings from Steve G1INK about the strength of neighbouring island, Lanzarote’s winds the week prior to flying, were duly met with some warm mid layers but the anti-grit goggles I tried on were too uncomfortable to contemplate after less than five minutes.
The Mountain Warehouse ‘Field’ Waterproof (Isodry) Vibram-soled fabric Boots were excellent in delivering comfort and reasonable durability for a weight of just 1.02kg (size 9) at a cost of 56GBP. Adding two pairs of cheap foam insoles (from Boyes Store) to these further enhanced their ability to resist the indentations of sharp volcanic rocks.
I have used a Bergause Flow 25 litre rucksack for SOTA for many years now. After carefully investigating its dimensions, it became clear that one of these could have a dual purpose of meeting both the needs of activation whilst also complying with the size limits for aircraft carry-on luggage (55x40x20cm) so long as it was not overfilled. Unfortunately its 1.2kg ate heavily into the 5kg allowance putting me overweight by nearly a kilo but they rarely weigh hand baggage and so it transpired.
Just to save confusion, I gave Roy G4SSH a list of working CW, SSB & FM frequencies for each band - 20m to 10m inclusive. Roy researched them for me and came up with a few changes in order to dodge possible QRM. I printed the amended QRG’s on the top of each logsheet along with maximum RF powers versus observatory distances for the LP1 activation.
Air Travel and Batteries:
Three months prior to travelling, I sent an email to Thompson Air containing a detailed list of the ‘contentious’ items which I intended taking and how I would carry them. There was a list of transceivers, antennas, mast and other gear but the nitty-gritty concerned my Li-Po’s. All were under 100Wh and I intended to carry them aboard in hand luggage. I mistakenly put a small sealed lead-acid battery on the list to be carried in my checked-in baggage.
It took a few weeks to get an answer and they put me right on the latter item but all the rest was accepted as being in the right place and ‘no real problem so long as the individual items are dealt with in the manner that the customer (me) has stipulated.’ I had stated that all terminals would be taped and LiPo Guard fire resistant bags would be used. The SLAB would be secured in a carton inside my hand baggage. All battery types including three small Li-Po’s for the Jingtongs, 3V Lithium cells for a translator and ten AAA Alkalines for the GPS would all be in hand baggage. Aside from shipping Li-Po’s direct to the hotel, an option I had considered, there was little more I could do. Now I just had to hope for the best.
At Manchester Airport 04-04-14:
Despite being armed with the reply to my advanced notifications and both my amateur licences, I wouldn’t say it was plain sailing on the day. We were delayed for almost 15 minutes while an ever increasing number of security officials (three or four at one point) poured over the contents of my bag which had (as expected) failed to pass the scanner test. Li-po’s comprising of one 6Ah, a 4Ah and two 2.2Ah (all 11.1V types) were disgorged from their protection to be taken with my documents to various desks and discussed by ever more senior officials. At length I was asked, ’ Are these batteries?’
As for the SLAB, it was swabbed for explosives and deemed clean after initially appearing to be ‘public enemy number one’ due to its acid content. Nevertheless, I thought myself lucky. Though he didn’t seem to mind at all, our 6 year old was frisked and had his shoes X-Rayed!
Flying Out to EA8/LP:
The flight, an hour late in taking off but GPS’d much of the way, was uneventful. Eventually we drew level with our old CT3 friend Madeira and close to the end, Tenerife’s 12,000 foot El Teide still showed plenty of evidence of lying snow. By the time we cleared the airport we had to find our hire car in the dark without assistance and extract it via various barriers. It took time to find the headlamp switch, the clutch pedal was completely absent and the luggage had to be shoved in. Poor Jack sat for nearly an hour with the rear shelf over him and squashed by a suitcase. Though this Opel Corsa was deemed to be a ‘Group F’ car, I think CICAR let us down a bit. Following the satnav’s calm instructions along dark but quiet roads got us (and the precious radio gear) to the hotel at 10:30pm. Bless 'em; they kept the restaurant open for us!
The next day was spent recovering; a wasted day for me and the hire car but the morning after that was devoted to finding an access point for LP2 closer to the hotel than El Pilar.
ROUTE to LP2 from Mendo (Marked Waypoints - WGS-84):
The recognized routes are either head south from El Pillar along the GR131 footpath or north along the same path from near Fuencaliente. On 6th April we found a minor road - the LP210 signposted to Mendo. This runs east off the main Fuencaliente to El Paso road at around the 34km marker.
Following the LP210 up almost to its limit we found that we could drive up a narrow, steep and roughly concreted road which leaves the LP210 as a right turn at N28 33.691 W17 51.582. From here it’s easy to drive as far as N28 33.734 W17 51.472 (1,170m ASL) and park where the track forks into two dirt roads. I dare not carry my nervous passengers further, so this is where I planned to start walking the next day.
From where the car is parked, joining the PR-LP 15 footpath which for a considerable distance is a forest track, is done at a signpost N28 33.785 W17 51.483. The sign reads ‘Ruta de Los Volcanes 8.1km’ and ‘Jedey 4.4km.’ Take the zig-zag track to the Volcanoes. The ‘8.1km’ refers to the distance required to reach the GR131 volcanoes footpath and not to LP2 which is a little further north.
Zigs are at: N28 33.883 W17 51.441; N28 33.808 W17 51.348; N28 33.899 W17 51.342, then it’s right at a signed (6.9km) T-junction N28 33.749 W17 51.225 and bear left at another (6.5km) N28 33.544 W17 51.211. A left hairpin at N28 33.380 W17 51.096 takes you along a long section going north to N28 33.703 W17 51.146. I buried some water there for later use.
The route continues in similar zig-zag style via N28 33.932 W17 51.005; N28 33.563 W17 50.919; N28 33.951 W17 50.853; N28 33.666 W17 50.820; N28 33.817 W17 50.799 and N28 33.688 W17 50.773, the track ending at a cairn - N28 33.858 W17 50.725. With 4WD you could easily get to the cairn but I found that a 2WD Automatic wouldn’t be likely to hack it because of impasses due to loose gravel just before the 6.9km sign and again at N28 33.789 W17 51.076, where it’s uneven. A sign reads ‘Ruta de Los Volcanes - Tigalate.’ Now it’s a matter of following the well defined path which runs up generally in an easterly direction through more trees via N28 33.777 W17 50.701; N28 33.734 W17 50.453; to a signpost at N28 33.616 W17 50.441.
The PR-LP 15 meets the GR131 path at N28 33.756 W17 50.208 where there stands a slightly canted signpost. With roughly 1km to go from here a left turn (north) takes you via a final signpost up to a short cut, which turns right off the main path at N28 34.038 W17 50.332. The short cut allows efficient access to a col at N28 34.080 W17 50.289. From there the true summit is accessed to the east side of the crater. Ignoring the short cut and walking straight-on leads to the trig point on the west side.
According to my measurements on the south col, the slightly ‘wonky’ trig pillar, GPS’d at N28 34.136 W17 50.355, might not quite count for an activation but I didn’t visit the northern low point. The highest point, which is simply marked by a cairn, was GPS’d at N28 34.157 W17 50.234. The summit position given in the SOTA database is 180m down a very steep hill from the cairn and therefore requires amendment.
Activation No1 of 4:
DESEADAS: EA8/LP-002 (QRO) - previously unactivated for SOTA.
Bands: 20m-17m-15m-12m CW/ SSB
G4YSS using alternative personal callsign EA8/ M1NNN/P. Unaccompanied.
All times ‘WEST’ UOS. (Western European Daylight Saving Time - UTC + 1hr and equivalent to BST).
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver.
SainSonic MX-P50A HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt Linear Amplifier.
Adjustable link dipole for 20-17-15-10m (built 1992 for CT3).
Two 7m-long end strings for dipole.
5m Telescopic Mast with ground spike. (Guying kit and end sticks not used).
6 Ah Li-Po battery (2 x 2.2Ah Li-Po’s in reserve - not used).
Packweight: 9 kg (19.8 pounds) including food and 2.5 litres of water.
Ascent of LP2:
Setting off too early for the 30 minute drive to the top of the LP210 at 06:25 caused a delay; waiting for daylight at 07:30. This was a new SOTA in a foreign country so I wasn’t about to start by either rushing or risking dark walking. I was apprehensive enough. I tuned through the Medium Waveband on the car radio to take my mind off the unknown challenge ahead. (More about what I heard on MW (AM) in a later report).
By 07:44, after downing one litre of water and carrying a further five 500ml bottles, I was walking in dim light. The idea was to avoid slogging uphill in sunshine later on. The route (see above) was easy to follow, well signposted and the surface coupled with an even gradient, made for easy walking. I took careful note of where the difficult parts (for a car) were in the hope I might be able to drive much further if I came this way again.
The track was deserted until I reached a small truck parked in the centre of it. There was nobody near it so I passed on, zigging above it. Out of nowhere, ‘Hola!’ A man seemed to be wrapping cloth around a rock way down below me. I still don’t know what he was up to but we exchanged shouted ‘good mornings’ before I hurried on, eager for the summit.
When the track finally came to an end after countless zig-zagging, it was easy to find the continuation path which was marked by a cairn and sign. Within 30 minutes of the top, the newly risen sun blasted me full in the face through trees blackened by forest fire. The surface changed from sizeable rocks to loose volcanic grit which was like walking up fine scree; two steps forward and one back. This persisted for the rest of the climb but soon the ridge and the GR131 main footpath were gained. Most of the work was now behind me.
Seeing the trig pillar ahead fooled me into thinking I was finally there but after arriving at 09:54 and GPS’ing it I took several photos and even found a place to set up the antenna by some trees. It then dawned on me that the east side of the crater rim was higher. Another 10 minutes of walking put the near error right but this and the delays carefully GPS’ing the route had left me with a poor ascent time of almost two and a half hours. I was to do better on 16th April when I repeated LP2. Who cares I thought, at least I was there and the WX was more than favourable.
The summit has a cairn on it and various short concrete pillars (e.g. MP129) marking the way. The crater is double-lipped, so there I settled to take advantage of what little shade it would offer me for the next two or three hours. With the rucksack in line with the sun and some foam to sit on, I made myself as comfortable as possible in readiness for a long activation.
Deseadas has a stark beauty; a deep 200m diameter crater with a few sizeable pine trees on its sides but very little else growing in it. There are no trees on the summit proper but some grow fairly close to the trig point. But for a few small plants, the eastern flank consists of a bare slope; the tree line being significantly lower there. The views of both coasts and the other islands were stunning. Air conditions were clear and still but every so often a light breeze would blow for maybe 20 seconds then disappear again. I noticed the occasional small bird flying by.
The mast’s ground spike was conveniently accepted by a crack in the crater rim and the dipole end strings were just tied to rocks at ground level. This left the (20m band) ends of the dipole about 2m AGL with the centre up at 5m. If it wasn’t going to end up at the bottom of the crater, spare equipment had to be carefully stowed.
DESEADAS, EA8/LP-002: 1,950m, 10pts, 10:12 to 15:12. Shade temp: 8C initially - 16C at the end. Wind 0 to 3mph. Bright sun throughout. No lying snow or frost. (LOC: IL18BN). Orange (EE) phone coverage on summit and all parts of ascent route.
After connecting up the new linear to the FT817 and both to a 6 Ah Li-Po, I checked 17m which in light of the HF predictions for the UK and Europe, was the intended starter band. It didn’t seem very open but I called Roy G4SSH with 30 Watts and he came straight back with a report of 339. This gradually increased until he was hearing me 579. We were in business!
18.090 CW - 9 QSO’s:
The qualifying QSO’s were soon in the log. In addition to Roy, these were: M0BKV; G4OBK and PA0ALW. More regulars followed along with an early S2S with S52CU/P Mirko on S5/CP-035. Power was around 30 Watts for all contacts. This was obtained by driving the SainSonic MX-P50A 50 Watt Linear with 2.5 Watts from the 817. Countries: G; PA; DL; S52 & EB.
18.132 SSB - 21 QSO’s:
As was to happen often in the future, Mike G6TUH was first into the SSB log. The 30 Watt signal was maintained and attracted plenty of familiar callsigns and a few new ones such as VK8GM Greg in Alice Springs and W1OW William in Douglas, MA. Countries: G; OK; DL; HB9; EA; VK & W.
14.052.6 CW - 19 QSO’s:
With text messages and phone calls going back and forth I advised Roy of the QSY to 20m. Neither of us expected much of the band but I was soon glad I’d tried it. Countries worked with 30W: G; F; OH; DL; HB9; EA; OE; ON; EI; K; GM and according to QRZ.com K2TQC was a second William and located in Jamesville, NY. HB9BCB/P - Heinz provided a second S2S from HB/VD-022
14.265 SSB - 17 QSO’s:
An old WAB frequency brought in some SSB’ers who missed it on 17m. This time 50 Watts were used, produced by a 5W drive level. Whilst I was cowering under my legionnaires hat from the sun at its maximum angle, Roger G0TRB reported ‘wet and miserable’ in Tamworth. One could be forgiven for comparing this session with one from the UK on 40m. More or less the same areas were worked: G; DJ; EA; DL; F; MW; OE; I; and EI.
Now for the dizzy heights of 21 MHz. Truly this would give a Top Band man vertigo!
21.054 CW - 18 QSO’s:
In deference to the battery it was back to 30 Watts for this session. Before starting I phoned Roy with a QSY to 21.052 but QRM forced an up shift of 2kHz. Roy was first in the 15m log and good conditions were bringing him in at 589. The ‘pond’ was again straddled to N1EU (Barry - Delmar, NY) and NE4TN (Walter - Mt. Carmel, TN). Otherwise: G; OE; PA; OM; PA; F; S51; SP and DL.
21.326 SSB - 12 QSO’s:
G4OBK Phil was first in the log for this session. It was just a case of touring around the various bands until the ones who couldn’t hear me finally did. One of these was Don G0NES and Mike EI2CL was a second. 50 Watts reached the following countries: G; SP; DL; EI; EA; N and YO.
24.907 CW - 20 QSO’s:
Another new SOTA band for me was 12m. I always thought of this ‘backwater’ as largely ignored but I thought I would give it a go today. In theory, provided it’s fully open, the further up the HF spectrum we go the bigger ‘bang for our buck’ we can expect. This assumption was to be proved on 10m-FM later in the week.
Though it can be configured in two different ways, to save weight and complication there is no dedicated 24MHz link on my dipole. Options are to pull the 15m link on one side and the 10m link on the other. Adding a short wire is optional. Alternatively 28MHz can be selected at both sides and a thin 0.6m wire dangled from one of them. The latter was chosen throughout, mainly because all you need to do if 10m is needed after operating on 12m is to casually walk by and pull the wire off. This was a safer alternative to fiddling about above your head while standing on the edge of a volcanic crater.
I could have reduced power but forgot and it remained set at the maximum available 50 Watts. G4SSH provided a ‘band test’ plus my first ever 12m QSO for SOTA. EA8 to G conditions were much the same as they’d been on 21 MHz. Entities worked: G; ON; SP; OH; OK; HA; EA; DL; K; N; OE; OK; I and RA. The ‘K’ mentioned was KK1W - James in Brimfield, MA.
24.973 SSB - 17 QSO’s:
This was destined to be the final session. Despite continuing with 50 Watts, I still had battery power available. What I didn’t have was a good feel for how long it would take me to descend in the now warm conditions, so basically I had was about to run out of time.
My first 12m SOTA QSO in the SSB mode was with OH9XX - Marko. Some G’s and ‘local’ EA’s followed. KK1W called again as did AE4FZ Charles in Fayetteville, NC. The final few stations were: M0IBC; G6ODU; OE5HDN; G3RDQ; 2E1HTG; DJ5AV; G6DTN. After his day of hard work it was fitting that Roy G4SSH was the final station worked.
Remarkably, at QRT, the 6 Ah was still doing its job, though it must have been very close to failing. The two 2.2’s were therefore not required.
145.500 FM - (2 Watts-Helical) Nil:
I wasn’t surprised when two or three calls with my handheld on 145.500 produced nothing. Possibly the calling channel ‘S20’ means little in this part of the world and I failed to research where on the 2m band people are most likely to congregate. There may be a repeater that ops could be persuaded to go simplex from but it’s too late to say that now. As for other islands in the group, this may have been asking rather a lot of a rubber duck and two Watts.
While packing up the gear I ate the lunch that I had entirely forgotten about in all the excitement. It consisted of a few sandwiches made at the hotel the day before. By now, there was barely sufficient shade to fit the thermometer into. My lunch was hot and soggy but I was so pleased with how the day had gone that the poor catering was ignored. I had also forgotten to drink much but that wasn’t an issue with a litre and a half still in the rucksack and more buried half way down the mountain.
Before a reluctant departure, I took a few more photos and pocketed a rock sample or two. About a dozen people had passed by in the five hours I’d been there but just like when I arrived, I had Deseadas to myself again.
Descent of LP2:
I tried to walk quickly but it was increasingly sultry and there were still a few waypoints to gather on the way down. I did not at this stage, find the short cut path across to the east side of the crater; that would come on the second visit but there were still some hairpin bend positions to clarify.
Though a direct line was steep in places, a couple of zig-zags were bypassed to save time. I wasted seven minutes looking for lost spectacles but their whereabouts were revealed on ascent for a reactivation on the 16th. The route was deserted and I arrived back at the car somewhat overheated at 16:52. By 17:30 I was soaking the aches away in a hot bath. This beats hands down, driving home for three hours from the Lake District!
Ascent/ Distance - Deseadas EA8/LP-002:
From the concrete road (N28 33.750 W17 51.466) above Mendo on 07-04-14.
Ascent: 790m (2,592ft) inc 10m reascent on the return.
Distance: 2 x 9.2km = 18.4km (11.5 miles).
Ascent: 2hr-10min up to Trig Pt.
Trig to summit: 10min.
Total ascent: 2hr-20min.
Descent: 1hr-40min (gross).
20m CW: 19
17m CW: 9
17m SSB: 21
15m CW: 18
15m SSB: 12
12m CW: 20
12m SSB: 17
2m - FM: 0
10 SOTA points.
This had been a memorable activation of a hitherto untouched SOTA summit on a faraway island. The 18 months (on and off) of planning seemed to pay dividends in that it mostly went how I’d hoped it would. I have worked from foreign parts numerous times in the past but never for SOTA.
The fact that it went smoothly was as much down to the help I had from G4SSH in the UK for alerting and spotting. Much time and heartache was saved and I think chasers were never long looking for me, provided they could hear me at all on any particular band. Key to this was phone coverage which turned out to be 99.9% from any part of the island visited during the entire two weeks. Certainly all three SOTAs and the routes used to access them were well covered.
Though it could take 10 minutes at peak times, most texts sent to the UK with frequency info were almost instant and I can only remember a phone call failing once. New to the art of texting, Roy apologised for sending in upper case. In fact his were the only texts I could read without rooting for my glasses; a real advantage whilst on a SOTA!
The route researched only the day prior to the activation was a success. It might have gone either way but once I had experienced the unexpected luxury of easy to find tracks, paths and signposts, my confidence level rose dramatically. Known more for its walking clientele than standard tourism, this is certainly a well organised island for going about on foot. If you like organisation in your walking and not everybody does, this was far superior to the UK especially in GM where on some mountains you are lucky to find an animal path to follow for a few tens of metres, let along a signed route all the way. I love to experience the wild places untouched by human hand but in these circumstances it suited me perfectly to have my navigation confirmed on the ground and I was grateful for it.
The guide books speak of the ‘Volcanoes Route’ (GR131) which runs right over LP2. You can start from the north or south but either way more ascent is involved (Approx. 960m & 1,340m for north & south approaches respectively compares with 790m from Mendo.) Though the northern way in from El Pilar is a little shorter than the way I went, the southern route demands more distance and according to one book it can become a ‘cooker’ in the afternoons. The ‘Mendo’ route used passes through trees 90% of the way, it is well graded and has much less re-ascent than the official routes. True it is not spectacular over its entire length but when the object is the placing of an amateur radio station on top of a mountain, who cares?
A psychological downside is that you have to walk more than 9km to cover a car-to-summit distance of less than 2.5km. The clincher was that the Mendo route is only 30 minutes drive from our hotel to say nothing of the potential for improvement if more of the route could be driven along. (See LP2 re-activation report 16-04-14)
The SainSonic MX-P50A 50 Watt Linear Amp performed faultlessly on its first SOTA. After slimming it down to 1.03kg and adding the FT817, there was a significant weight advantage of around half a kilo compared with the IC706-2G which I rejected for this trip. Especially when driven with 2.5 Watts giving about 30 Watts out, it was much easier on batteries which translates into a further reduction in packweight. The only concern was the ACC connector for the 817 and its fine pins.
When La Palma was selected for a visit, I became somewhat overburdened by concerns about heat and the quantity of water I would need to carry. These fears were largely unfounded. The day’s activating was done on under two litres of water including pre-hydration. In April it just doesn’t seem to get that hot, at altitude at least. Less water would be packed for subsequent activations. Walking at first light when temperatures are in single figures paid dividends too. I walked in thin trousers, shirt and a single 100-weight fleece pullover; the fleece I was carrying wasn’t needed.
I was very happy with my new Mountain Warehouse purchases especially the hat and lightweight boots which were very comfortable and which seem to have lived to fight another day.
The 5m telescopic mast, also on its first ever SOTA, was ideal. The vulnerability is the thin top section but with next to no wind, it didn’t even need guying. The ground spike, which was a modification, certainly helped to eliminate the need for guy ropes so long as there was a crack to stick it into. I have never guyed my SOTA mast in the UK so to do so in EA8 would have been a chore.
With a limited choice of where the dipole ends could be accommodated, only with great difficulty could end sticks be forced into the surface at the precisely optimal points. With a dipole as short as this one, long end strings tied to ground rocks did the job. With an 80m dipole, that doesn’t work so well.
Band conditions were surprisingly good; in fact fantastic when you consider that I could easily work the UK on every band from 20m through to 12m. There seemed to be a good amount of interest in working the station, though in a minority of cases this may have been for reasons other than SOTA chasing. Though the following is becoming less true as more countries come on line, there is little point in exclusively using the higher bands when activating in the UK as most of the target audience is within 2,000km. In this case without the higher HF bands precious little of anything would be worked not to mention SOTA chasers but it was a different world which took a little adjusting to.
It’s a bizarre fact that I half expected the chasers to sound different but they sounded just the same as they do at home on 40 and 80m. That took some getting used to as did VK’s and N stations nonchalantly calling in to work EA8 but the initial unfamiliarity of working longer distances soon became the norm.
Steve G1INK was right when he mentioned grit; in his case it was wind-borne and must have been very unpleasant indeed. I was lucky and didn’t have that problem but my boots needed emptying after every expedition. You could hear the stuff ‘tinkling’ into the waste paper bin but there was little point in continually stopping to remove it. Better to ignore the discomfort and carry on.
I must say that after thinking months ago that LP3 Pico Bejenado would be the simplest to activate, I found that I had fallen for Deseadas in a big way, promising that (XYL willing) I would be back before the two weeks was out. That would also provide a second chance for chasers who missed it.
Thanks to all stations worked and to G4SSH; G6TUH; M0MDA; VK2DAG & OH9XX for spotting. Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for telephone liaison for the duration of the activation and for posting advanced alerts the evening before. This help resulted in the avoidance of much wasted time and thereby a fuller log.
73, John G4YSS
(Using EA8/ M1NNN/P)