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Mt. Irakurri EA2/NV-069 by EA2IF/P on 26/08/2021

Mt. Irakurri is about 65 Km North of Pamplona, near the village of Leitza, birth town of the famous Harrijasotzaile (stone-lifter) Iñaki Perurena, who established a record lifting a stone of 320 Kg in 1994.
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Stone lifting is one of the typical Basque rural sports.

Here you can see the location of this mountain with respect to Pamplona:

A mountain dirt road can be taken by the road NA-170 and driven all the way indicated by the red arrows in the following picture,

up to the point where the last red arrow changes to blue, which is where I parked my car. The blue arrow section is the part I hiked, which took me just 10 minutes.
This following picture shows the summit from where I parked my car and started the hike:

This selfie taken when I just arrived to the summit, shows the place where I parked my car down where the blue arrow points.

I setup with my 7m fishing rod tied to the trig point, with a 14m long endfed wire hung from the top end as a sloper down to a 9:1 unun from which a 5 m long counterpoise wire was extended on the grass. This was connected to my FT-817ND and the MFJ-941B antenna tunner in my SOTA-kit.
Close to my operating spot, I also had a Diamond dual band mobile whip connected to my FT-23R HH for 2m FM.

I started my activation about half an hour later than the alerted start time on 40m CW, where I logged 20 QSOs in about 25 minutes.
Then I QSYed to 30m, where I logged 5 QSOs after about 15 minutes QRV.
The next band was 20m CW, where I logged 5 QSOs after about 15 minutes QRV.
After 20m, I QSYed to 15m , but some 10-15 minutes CQing there didn’t produce any single QSO.
Without chasers on 15m, I decided to look at SOTAwatch for any possible S2S and I realised that Eric VA2EO was activating on 20m CW. There I went to find that I was able to copy him, very weak but workable, so I gave him my call for S2S.
Eric’s good ears copied my call right away and we managed to complete our S2S.
That was the icy on the cake for me.
I then QSYed a couple of Kc down and started CQing for some possible transatlantic chaser, but nobody called in and given that the Sun was very low, almost hiding behind the horizon, I decided to call it a day, pack-up and descend in the fog, which had been wrapping the summit since the begining.
At the beginning, twice in the middle and also at the end, I called CQ SOTA on 2m FM but nobody called in. It’s true that I forgot selfspotting for 2m FM. Sorry…

This is the full log with 31 QSOs and 1 transatlantic S2S with Canada.


Not great views to show you from this summit, unfortunately, other than clouds, which also offered nice shapes and views:


I don’t know how that pink arrow appeared on the left hand side…

Let me post this final picture of my loyal SOTA companion, Lucho, the dog.

Thanks dear chasers for your calls and QSOs, particularly, thanks Eric @VA2EO for your good ears and the S2S QSO.
I’ll be looking forward to copying you all again from a SOTA soon.

73,

Guru

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Hello Guru, nice photos of you and Lucho. Thanks for the report and photos. Always interested in your rig set-ups.

Take care, stay safe. In vk3 we are in lock down, have been for some weeks; same as vk1 and vk2. :weary:

73 de Geoff vk3sq

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Thanks Guru @EA2IF for sharing your activation details and snaps.

I remember reading Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” decades ago and thinking that that part of Spain was possibly more arid. Now I know better.

Paul

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Hi Geoff,
I’m always pleased to activate SOTA and later share with you all my experience.
Sorry about you long lasting lockdown. We are more or less living quite a normal life, wearing face mask in public but the fact of having had most of the population vaccinated, has made the return to this more or less normal life possible.
Good luck for you all in VK!
73,

Guru

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Hi Paul,
Several Western movies were filmed in the Almeria desert, South-East of Spain and possibly that created the idea of an arid Spain. But Spain is not the Almeria desert. It’s true that Central and South of Spain can get much less precipitation and much higher temperatures in average than the North, but that doesn’t make it a desert at all.
The North of Spain is anything but arid. It’s very mountaineous and always green thanks to the influence and humidity coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.
You can see yourself the green in the North of Spain of this satellite view:

See this picture I took when I first activated this summit in 2016:

If you want to come over some day, I’ll be pleased to help you enjoy the beauty of our SOTAs in the green North of Spain.

73,

Guru

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Hi Guru @EA2IF

Thanks for helping educate me more on Spain.

You’re right we can be full of pre conceived notions of what is what, only to discover we are miles off base.

I like Spain a lot and have visited it periodically over many decades and will happily return under any excuse!

I’ve often wondered about a trip west from Barcelona through the Pyrenees and then along the Atlantic coast possibly blending hiking (SOTA), art/history and great food/drink.

When based in the UK my nearest “big” airport is Edinburgh and pre covid I researched direct flights from EDI to “exotic” locations and Asturias came up as a destination (don’t remember the airport).

Anyway, long story short, I’m very interested in your kind offer and hopefully we can make something happen.

Paul

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Hi Guru,
Your signal was quite good for a far qrp S2S. On my side, I was also at 5w with my KX2 and an efhw cut for 20m.
Absolutely no qrn from my summit, the nearest town was at least 100km away from me, hi!
What was special yesterday was that it took 2 tries to me and Christian F4WBN to have a succesful contact, most of the time, he is even stronger than most North American chasers and you bang, you did it on the first try, why?
Thanks for sharing your story.
73 de VA2EO, Éric

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Hi Paul,
Your idea sounds very attractive. You can have several SOTAs of different difficulty levels along the Pyrenees range and even several never activated ones. Then, as you get to my EA2/NV land, you can take and follow the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela in the West coast, which would be a perfect way for you to have a great cultural experience combining the mid age romanic art in the towns and villages along the Way with several SOTAs, as Andrew VK1DA did back in 2019.

Asturias is IMO one of the most beautiful regions in Spain, with several Km of coast to the Cantabric Sea (Atlantic Ocean) and the Peaks of Europe mountain range just a few Km inland from the coast.
There are at least 2 SOTA activators living there, one is my old friend Javier EA2GM, who lives in Oviedo, the Capital city of Asturias, and I’d also like to have a chance to visit him and have some SOTA completes with him over there in EA1/AT.

When ever you decide to visit Spain, just let me know and we’ll try to arrange something if possible.

Take care.
73,

Guru

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Hi Guru,
At that time I was activating Mount Union W7A/AW-006 and looking for you but didn’t hear you.
I like your interesting report, the pictures and especially your dog, Lucho.
73 de W7AMR Attila

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Well, that’s the amazing magic of radio. The Sun was very low when we had our contact and right a few seconds after we signed off, your signal even improved on my side to a 42 or 53 as opposed to the 229 I gave you during our QSO. It probably was due to the grey line enhancement.
I chased you again from home yesterday, so thank you and congratulations for your consistent successfull signal accross the Pond.
73,

Guru

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Dear Attila,
It would have been a real blast should we have managed to make a S2S QSO, but conditions are still very difficult and EA to Arizona on QRP is very, very difficult nowadays. I’m chasing some activators in the NA East coast, but further inland is still very difficult. We’ll have to wait for some more sunspots to show up.
Regarding Lucho, he is 9 years old now but still looking very nice. When I’m walking him on the streets or in a park, several people use to make comments about what a nice looking dog he is and I totally agree.
Take care dear Attila. I’m sure our time for a new SOTA contact or even S2S is getting closer.
73,

Guru

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Guru,
Thanks for your note.
I always take my dog with me for activation.
I showed Lucho’s picture to Pamacs (6 years old).
He says “bow-wow” to Lucho.


73
Attila

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Hi Paul,
My friend Javier EA2GM lives in Asturias and he has been activating SOTA this morning. It was a 1st ever activation. He sent us a video through whatsapp. I don’t know how to share that video with you on the Reflector, so I’m going to show you just a few shots taken from that video:
Several SOTA summits here:

The Cantabric sea (Atlantic Ocean) can be seen in the 2 following pics:

As you can see, a green SOTA paradise…
I hope you’ll like it.

73,

Guru

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Hi Guru @EA2IF

Thanks for sharing your friend’s photos and Asturias does look really beautiful.

I’m convinced “it’s a must” for me.

Paul

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A quick search showed me there seems to be direct flights between Edinburgh and Oviedo, which is the capital city of Asturias EA1/AT.


As you can see, there’s a huge offer of SOTA summits to choose from.

If we move to the East, there seems to be also flights from Edinbourgh to Santander, which is the capital city of Cantabria EA1/CT.


This is also a green and very beautiful region with a great offer of SOTA summits to choose from.

Next to the East, you could also fly to Bilbao, which is the capital city of Bizkaia EA2/BI and has quite a big airport with several regular international flights.


This region, has a smaller offer of SOTA points due to the not so high a.s.l. mountains, but it’s equally green and beautiful.

Further to the East, you’ll find Gipuzkoa EA2/SS, with the beautiful San Sebastian as capital city. It has a small airport and I’m not sure there are incoming flights from Edinbourgh.

Not far to the South, you’ll find Alava EA2/VI, with the green Vitoria-Gasteiz as the capital city. In addition to its offer of SOTA summits, it also has a small airport but I’m not sure there are incoming flights from Edinbourgh, at least on a regular basis. But it’s worth checking, just in case.

Finally and next Eastbound you’ll find Navarra EA2/NV, by the French border, with a small airport in its capital city, Pamplona (my QTH) where I don’t think there are regular incoming flights from Edinbourgh, but, again, it worths checking just in case.
However, there’s an airport in Biarritz (France) which is not far (1h 20min drive)


Navarra (EA2/NV) also has a vast offer of 161 SOTA summits and beautiful green landscapes.

Well, as you can see, there seems to be several options; you can’t miss the North of Spain.

73,

Guru

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Hi Guru @EA2IF

Thanks for doing some basic research for me and sharing the destinations and surrounding peaks. All looks very enticing indeed.

I’ll reach out via direct messaging to follow up with questions and ideas about a possible trip.

One quick question which might be of interest to a broader audience as well is what months offer the best WX?

Paul

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Feel free to do so, I’ll be pleased to be of help.

This is a difficult to answer question. As I mentionned above in this thread, the North of Spain is green and that’s because of the rain, the snow, the fog and all the humidity coming from the Cantabric Sea (Atlantic Ocean).
I’d tend to say that the best months weatherwise are from June to September. The temperatures will be warm (20’s C) and quite rarely too hot (30’s C or higher), but it must be kept in mind that it’s reasonably probable finding very cloudy and rainy days in that mentionned time frame. I remember having spent 6 days of July in a rental appartment at the beach of Laredo in EA1/CT several years ago with my family and it rained all day long over the 6 days. Well, that probably was an exceptional week but it may happen.
We’ve had some torrential rains causing floods in some areas of Navarra EA2/NV just a few days ago.
Nowadays, with the climate change, we are seeing more and more unusual things regarding weather and we must be prepared to see anything.
But we must be optimistic, we’ve had beautiful days this summer and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your visit to the North of Spain.
We will receive the visit of Armin DL6GCA in Pamplona tomorrow and he will be able to tell you several things about his SOTA and tourism experience in EA2/NV.
73,

Guru

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