Mt. Armotoa EA2/NV-028 by EA2IF/P on 10/05/2015

After not having activated last weekend due to bad weather, I did it successfully this weekend on Saturday and Sunday with a glorious weather both days.
Firstly I did my Saturdays morning activation of Mt. San Cristóbal while my daughters were having their weekly rock climbing training. That short activation was on 20m and produced 20 QSOs.

On Saturday evening, I decided that I would activate a new unique on Sunday: Mt. Armotoa, which is a bit more than 100Km from my QTH, in the NorthEast corner of Navarra, close to France and our neighbour province of Huesca.
I got up at 6h45 local = 4h45 utc but I later found out that I miscalculated both, the driving and the hiking time, so the result was that I got on the air 75 minutes later than my Alert announced.

The hike started at 7h00 utc from the parking spot (N 42.86413 W 0,92263) by the bridge over the Belagua river close to the village of Isaba, between the valleys of Roncal and Belagua.
It was a demanding hike with steep slopes but it was clearly marked, so no problems to follow it.

Following a picture showing the village of Isaba shortly after having started the ascent.

As the hike continued and more height was gained, the views of Roncal Valley were beautiful, with the Mt. Kakueta forestfree Summit (EA2/NV-011) on the right hand side and the unactivated Mt. Belabartsaitsa (EA2/NV-044) on the left hand side:

I didn’t take any more pictures during the ascent because I was late and I didn’t want to make the delay even greater. I had a GPS track with me, which included a softer but longer way to get to the Summit and a tougher but shorter one. No need to say that I followed the tough shorter one.

It was tough indeed and I had to cross some areas of dense vegetations with bushes and trees as well as using my hands grabbing rocks and bushes in several occasions in order to climb the rocks of an extremely steep final attack to the Summit.

When I finally got to the Summit, it was 8h35 utc and before starting to set-up the station, I enjoyed the ashtonishing views while taking some pictures and recovering from the tough hike.

These are some of the beautiful views I enjoyed:

This one shows Isaba village and again unactivated Mt. Belabartsaitsa (EA2/NV-044)

View to the East where some of the higher Pyrenees mountains can be seen with the last snow patches.

This one shows non-SOTA Mt. Ardibidegaina (1309m a.s.l.) on the foreground among many others further away.

This one shows non-SOTA Mt Saitsaderra with SOTA Mt. Kakueta Summit (EA2/NV-011) seen behind to the left.

After the pictures session, I set-up with again my ECO mobile GP antenna and one elevated wire radial.
I started my activation on 20m SSB this time and logged 24 QSOs including a S2S with Jana DG5WU/P.
When the pile up dried up, I announced QSY to 30m but, unfortunately, couldn’t even make a single CQ call. I had planned to use the ECO mobile 80m band antenna for 30m but I couldn’t even hear the QRM of the band when I tuned on the 30m band and SWR was very high, so I thought the 80m band antenna definitely wasn’t a good choice to try on 30m. When I changed to the 15m band ECO mobile antenna I found out the root cause of not hearing any band noise on 30m. It was a faulty contact on the crimped BNC connector of my RG-174 coax, which had been slightly pulled out when hooked by the branch of some tree or bush.
I managed to push the coax into the BNC and the electrical contact returned, so I started to copy some signals on 15m. By this time, I didn’t want to change back and try again the 30m band with the 80m band antenna. Sorry…
After a self spot and several CQ calls on 15m CW, I didn’t get any single call back, so I decided to go back to 20m but on CW now.
Now it came a new problem. The paddle had been working perfectly while I was CQing on 15m but, for some reason, it stopped producing any dashes when I switched to 20m, so I had to select KYR on my FT-817 and use the dots paddle as a straight key.
In such limp mode, as I had not used the straight key for years, I managed to complete QSO with 15 stations.
At about 10h15 utc, when no more chasers called in, I went QRT with 39 QSOs in my log, packed everything up and descended through the same difficult and steep way I had arrived earlier, as I was fearing that I would get home late for lunch.
During my descent, I took a few more pictures:

See this narrow path between rocks. Difficult when carrying big rucksacks (not my case today)

The way I followed is called the smugglers way. This sort of bunker might be from the Spanish civil was or something related to surveillance against the smuggling activity. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just a shephard’s hut.

Finally, once I got down to the parking spot and while my dog Lucho was drinking cristal clear water from the river Belagua, I took this picture of Mt.Armotoa, a very nice and recomendable Summit to visit…

It’s been a very nice SOTA day and I want to say many thanks to all my chasers and sorry to those that I missed.

I’ll be looking forward to hearing you again from another Summit.

Have a nice week.

Best 73 de Guru.


Hi Guru - thanks for the qso on Saturday. Nice report and pics - jealous as I had to stay at home due to weather and other things that got in the middle
. This brings good memories from many moons ago - I know very well the corner of Huesca where it meets Navarra up North - hiked many summits in the region around Hecho and Anso.

LOL about your reliability issues… It seems I am not the only one that have suffered them recently.

73 Angel

Hi Ángel, yes, the area is absolutely beautiful. I’ve been many years ago hiking and fishing there: Hecho Valley, Aragon Subordan river, Aguastuertas Valley, Ibon of Estanés… nice memories!
The only problem is the over 100Km distance from my QTH and the little time available to go there in these days, plus the cost of fuel.
In Hecho Valley I was camping one night with some friends when I still was in my teens and having spent all or most of my life so far in a city, I discovered there the astonishing beauty and inmensity of the clear sky at night in the Pyrenees mountains, which was full, so full, packed with millions and millions of stars that I had never seen before in such number, with the Milky Way perfectly visible, the falling stars… It’s something beautiful that will remain in my memory for ever…
I’d like to take my family there some time but I’m failing so far on getting them interested about mountains and/or SOTA (including any other ham radio variants)
Regarding reliability issues, I’ll look at that problem with the paddle later in the week and see how it can be fixed. However, let me tell you that I enjoyed working morse in straight key mode and I’m now even thinking on possibly taking with me to the next activation a tiny spy morse key that I bought in Dayton Hamfest back in 1998.

Regarding the issue with the crimped BNC being partly pulled out of the RG174 coax, I have taken it out of the SOTA kit already and replaced it by a piece of RG213 having a PL259 at each end. This is robust enough as to prevent from having that problem anymore.
Take care and have a good week.
73 de Guru