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The majestic Mt. Beriain, EA2/NV-015

Hello SOTA mates,

Motivation:
This is one of the most spectacular mountains in EA2/NV region located towards West from Pamplona.
The beauty of this mountain of 1493m a.s.l., highlighted by a prominence of about 900 meters (the biggest in Navarra area), is such that you should pay a visit at least once in your mountaineering life. As for me, I already had a strong motivation to visit it but I couldn’t find the right time until this activation.

When you look at it from the western side you see a big pyramidal form, like this:

Contrary to what we could estimate, the mountain is very very long, like this when we see in the distance from the southern side: (notice the very summit in the centre of the range)

Enough. We should go up and see what’s there. Let’s meet Mt. Beriain.

Mt. Beriain driving directions:
There are mainly two possible choices for climbing Beriain; one starts at the village of Huarte-Araquil, in the north face of the mountain range. The second is the one we took, starting next the village of Unanua, in the south face.

  • Exit Pamplona towards Vitoria (road PA-34)
  • Take the motorway AP-15 towards Vitoria / San Sebastian
  • Near Irurzun take deviation Nr.112 towards Vitoria (Highway A-10)
  • Leave the highway at exit Nr. 17 towards Arbizu (road NA-7100).
  • Head towards Unanu (road NA-7102)
  • Enter the village of Unanu and pass the church driving East towards the highest area .
  • Leave the village and follow a dirt road. Keep on driving gaining height for about 1,4 km. You can park in several points on the first kilometer. I did next to a fountain, at about 810m a.s.l.

Climb:

  • Trail is 3,3 kilometer long (one way). If you park in the VIllage of Unanu, the trail is 4,7 km.
  • Heigh gain: 680 m (when starting in the cattle fountain).

Trail look like this, being the middle part the steeper path:

The trail starts passing a bleech tree forest, now starting changing into autumn color:

Once we left the forest we could see backwards a nice cloud sea under in the valley:

And in front of us we were approaching the ondulated and vertical walls of this range:

We then reduced our walking rate to start the real climbing, walking carefully through a narrow and stony zigzagging path. You can see it here going vertical:

After a long and wavy walk we reached the top part and started walking comfortably, looking asthonised the dimensions of that wide grassy corridor on top. In front of us, the hermitage on the summit:

After about half an hour you are very close to summit and pass next an impressive crack:

The crack looking back from the summit. Unfortunatelly, it is frequent to notice of accidents in this mountain during winter time in foggy days:

In the summit there is a trig point, the hermitage and all year open refuge. Next the mountain maiilbox we can see the far end of the range towards East. It’s a pity that views today were not that clear, otherwise we could have seen Pyrenees.

Activation:

  • Date, Thursday 12th october 2017, public holiday in Spain.
  • Station: For VHF, handheld Kenwood TH-F7E + homebrew half wave vertical on fishpole. For HF, the CW rig MTR-3B + EFHW antenna, inverted Vee.

I first started on VHF, as I had foreseen a number of SOTA activations planned in mountains in EA2 around me. I installed the Flower pot antenna (vertical half wave made from coaxial cable) and as soon as I set to 145.525-FM I found Alberto EA2DYS/P activating Gorbea EA2/VI-001. He had done the climb on BTT bike, well done!

Then I started CQing and I logged 20 qso in a row, with 4 more S2S: Santi EA2BSB/P in NV-068, Joseba EA2ECA/P from EA2/BI-002 and Salvador EA2OX/P from BI-033.

My longest QSO on VHF with EA2DVT with very strong signals from Zaragoza (161 km far away), not bad for a cheap homebrew antenna!

I switched to HF, on 20m CW and just on the first call logged G4SSH, as usual monitoring on 14.062 I guess; thanks Roy!

Some more frequent chasers were logged and I got 4 S2S on HF, Heinz HB9BCB/P, OE/HB9CLT/P, S5/HB9DST/P and MW/OK2PDT/P on sota-expeditions abroad.

I tried on 30m but it seems propagation was a bit poor today, I just logged a couple more on 40m and end my HF activation. A few calls back on VHF gave me 2 more logged.

I dismantled the aerial and packed everything and I kept the handheld on while eating the sandwich with my wife (thanks her patience!). Just before leaving I payed a visit inside the hermitage. I was lucky to get there the last S2S on VHF with Bidal EA2EHX/P from EA2/NV-008.

Sport tip of the day:
Soon after we start walking back we found a man opening a big rucksack. He was a parchutist preparing to launch. At the middle of our descent we looked back and saw him flying like a bird… Wouldn’t it be nice to go down like this after an activation?

Historical tip. The hermitage of Saint Donato & Saint Cayetano.
This hermitage is the highest one in Navarra. Old documents mention about it at the 17th century.

Inside we find two estatues next the altar, they are St. Donato & St. Cayetano.

The hermitage has a refuge for many people in the other end, with a nice fire hearth and a table. No other facilities are provided.

The hermitage was receintly restored.

Last week an injured mountaineer that couldn’t descend due to a knee dislocation, sleept here until another discovered him on the very morning and called emergency. He was rescued with an helicopter. He couldn’t ask for support the day before due to a lack of battery on his mobile phone… Pity he wasn’t a ham operator with a handheld :wink:

That’s all today, See you soon. VY 73 de Ignacio

11 Likes

Wow! Another mountain I need to climb and activate.

Excellent pictures.

Thanks. You know Andy, welcome anytime :beers: