I recently learned how to use the RANGE feature of the great Sota Mapping Project facility available at the Sota web page and I looked for the SOTA summits within a 35Km circle from my QTH.
This is what I got:
As I have written here some time ago, we are really blessed with so many beautiful mountains so close to our QTH here. This is indeed a SOTA paradise
I have activated many of them so far, but I found there are still 16 of them that I have not yet activated.
After seeing this, I set a new target for me from now on, which is activating all the summits in the mentioned circle.
Today’s summit was Mt. Ortxikasko, which had never been activated on HF and it looks like this in a couple of pictures I took in December 2014, the first one, and January 2015, the second one, from Mt San Cristobal during my Saturday morning activations, without even knowing the name of that mountain nor the fact that it was a 2 pointer SOTA summit:
I downloaded a track from Wikilocs and this is the route I followed from the nice and small village of Sorauren:
I parked my car by the church of the village and crossed the Ultzama river by this very nice stone bridge which picture I took on my return:
It had rained during the night and the sky was still very grey with the ground pretty wet.
After having just crossed the bridge, I realised that I had forgotten my umbrella in the car, so I returned and picked it up, just in case…
The first part of the hike goes through a dirt road which can be easily driven in a 4x4 and even in a regular car with a careful and skilled enough driver.
At one point, there is a gate with a sign informing that the other side was the local hunting area.
I could hear some dogs and shootings far in the distance but I decided to cross the gate and continue.
After some 3 or 4 Km, the dirt road became progressively steeper, muddier and narrower. It looked like this:
At one point the GPS track took me out of this path and get in the forest to the left, to the higher part of the mountain.
However, it was very easy to follow the right path through the forest with the help of several cairns and coloured plastic straps strategically tied to the branches of the trees whenever necessary.
Not everything was straight forward and I had to take some detours from time to time in oder to overcome fallen trees blocking my way:
The final part was particularly hard after the long hike along the dirt road, because it was very steep and the ground was very muddy, therefore slippery.
After about an hour and a half hike, we (my dog Lucho and I) finally reached the summit:
I set up my 7m fishing pole directly attached to the top part of the trig point in order to have the wire radials elevated from ground:
I had 4 wire radials but due to the trees and bushes density, I only used 2 sets of 2 elevated wire radials parallel to ground about 1.2 meter above it.
The bands were very crowded and it was difficult to find a clear frequency.
In 2 occasions I found a clear frequency but, by the time I had sent a selfspot through SMS, some station had started CQing right were I was about to start.
I finally told Ignacio EA2BD through whatsapp that I would start CQing on 10.130 and after QSO with him, he kindly raised a spot for me and the pile-up started.
I had a great run of 30 QSOs in 23 minutes in which I had the pleasure to give a complete to Santi EA2BSB and Juan-Carlos EA2EEB, who had previousy activated this summit on VHF only. I was also pleased with the call from my friend and ex-work mate Ángel M0HDF from Birmingham.
When the pile up dried out on 30m, I QSYed to 20m SSB and I found again big troubles to find a clear frequency. While trying to find a clear spot to start CQing, I found Manuel EA2DT working a SOTA, so I started my activity on 20m SSB calling SV2HSZ/P for a S2S QSO which we completed with great joy.
Then I moved to 14.321.5 and sent a selfspot with my smartphone while looking at the Sotawatch page and realising that my selfspot wasn’t showing up yet. But I decided to start CQing anyway.
What a surprise it was when after my very first CQ, I got a call from Rob G0HRT, who apparently was sitting on that frequency and heard me when I started to call.
Given that my selfspot didn’t show up, Rob kindly raised a good spot for me and the party continued.
I logged 19 QSOs on 20m SSB, two of which were S2S, the first one with SV already mentionned above and the 2nd one with Antonio EC2AG/P, who kindly called me from EA2/BI-028. We were very happy to S2S again.
These are the complete log and the S2S log:
All in all 49 QSOs and a great, great time in a very nice mountain that I had never ever heard about despite it being less than 35 Km from my current QTH and just 15 Km from my birth town Pamplona.
SOTA is giving us the great opportunity to discover new great places, some times almost next door. Thanks SOTA
This is me at the operating spot today.
The views from the summit were not a big deal, as there are many trees around and the day was very wet and foggy
Let me finish off with some few pictures of the nice village of Sorauren taken on my return.
Thank you and have a nice week.
I’ll be looking forward to contact you in or from another summit soon.
Best 73 de Guru