For third year in a row, I was spending a couple days camping in northern Navarra, near the Pyrenees. During the year I use to activate summits near my home town, Pamplona, and I rarely have the chance to visit the higher mountains in Navarra as they are far to reach and take longer to climb.
Therefore I wait for my holidays to organize hiking these mountains. This year I planned visiting two new summits for me.
Day 1: Mt. Kartxela, EA2/NV-004
This is the 3rd higher mountain in NV; yes, we don’t have a NV-002, as it was retired and relocated as of EA2/HU-080 (Mt. Ezkaurre, that I visited last year).
Mt. Kartxela is a very impressive mountain located at the Western part of the Pyrenees range.
Activation date: July 20th 2021
The trail starts in the valley of Belagua, a few kilometers near the border with France.
Drive from the village of Isaba (road NV-137) and park at about 1400 m a.s.l., after km 50, near the abamdoned military mountain barracks.
- Track length (one way) is 4,5 km, not too long, it seems…
- Elevation gain: about 580 m.
- Max. elevation: 1982 m. A pity I can’t get 10 points due to the 18 missing meters, hi!
Just from the start of the trail you see it’s impressive shape:
The track length isn’t very long but if you see the vertical profile you realize that the hard real climb is concentrated since the middle of the track:
I woke up early at 06:30, got my breakfast and drove for half an hour from the camping site at Zuriza. Weather has been very hot the last days and I didn’t want to arrive late in the summit.
The hike took me about two hours, and I arrived in the summit at around 08:00 utc.
See some pictures taken during the ascent, excellent weather & views!
I reached the middle of the track, col of Arrakogoiti (1416m.). From this point the ascent starts, see the remaining route to reach the summit : (hopefully cows were in calm)
As you progress the smooth grassy path changes and you have to sort big rocks:
Once you reach the col of Binbaleta (1680 m) you have new summits at sight, that were hidden until now; in the middle Mt. Barazea EA2/NV-007 and further left Mt. Ori EA2/NV-003:
The summit is not far; you turn Southwest and keep on climbing to reach your target.
From the summit I see now three top SOTA mountains:
I carried light gear for the activation: LNR MTR-3B, 3 x LiIon 18650 batt, EFHW triband antenna and the VHF handheld Kenwood TH-F7, plus lots of water, sun cream and food… Not very light in the end!
I started running VHF FM with the handheld which produced 4 qso.
Summit is not very big, but there is a flat area enough to deploy the EFHW antenna (a short one coil loaded for 40m) and then I ran on 14-10-7 MHz.
I tried to watch SOTA spots but my smartphone wasn’t worky. The summit is too close with France. Internet wasn’t operative and therefore I couldn’t see any spot today. Nevertheless, when running HF CW the glorious RBN was in charge of producing a self spot and a pile up soon.
I enjoyed the calls I got, many were frequent chasers, others were new to me.
Being spot blinded, I was delighted to get also S2S. I also spend the last minutes on the summit performing a band scan that produced the final ones.
All in all I closed my log with 55 qso, including S2S with Elena EA4DOS/P & Alejandro EA4DON/P, the gentle and very active couple in his summer tour in EA2/HU-076, Andre F5UKL/P, I guess close to mine, Paul SM/DL6FBK/P together with Lars SA4BLM/P, Mikel EA2CW/P, Jaan SM0OEK/P, Matt DL/OE6FEG/P and Paul HB9DST/P.
I was very happy enjoying the pile up from this nice mountain shack I was on:
It is very rewarding to have such activation running the tiny MTR-3B. I was on for 1h 20 minutes and when I recharged the 18650 batteries in the afternoon they just topped with about 500 mAmps. I love such low battery consumption plus the true 5w out I got from this rig!
I packed everything and it again took me 2 hours to arrive to the car. I stopped here and there to drink, eat some food and to take some more pictures on my way back. I saw a nice cloud retained without passing over my path.
I got back to the camping and prepared a good dish of cous cous with eggs, tomato, nuts, tuna and avocado; delicious!
Later I went to the camping bar and was surprised to find a known US Sota activator standing as a beer in the counter!
Tomorrow I will try the second SOTA activation… Now I must rest a bit!
73 de Ignacio