My wife suggested going out and see the autumn in North of Navarra. She kindly offered to do a short activation in the way so I found a new one we could pay a short visit.
This is EA2/NV-152, Mt. Aintzingurutze, a mountain with an unpronounceable name, at 1h 15 minutes drive from Pamplona. Things turned to be more difficult than planned as you’ll see.
Activation date: Sunday October 23rd 2022
I approached the summit by road NA-4040, from Saldias towards Beintza-Labaien.
Mid way I turned left leaving the road and exit by a concrete road (Picture from Google Maps) :
Then I drove up to a farm house called Azkareteko Borda (555 m.) where I parked. See detail on the map:
The summit is then quite close on a short and steep trek:
- Trail length (one way): about 1 km
- Elevation gain: 158 m
- Mountain elevation: 713 m a.s.l.
This mountain has a double summit being the true highest point the Western one, although the activation zone extends all the way up to the Eastern summit which is just one meter below the maximum height.
The route was clear and easy to follow but as soon as we left the car we felt a very strong wind blowing. My wife told me I could speed up as she knew I would install the antenna on top, so I left her at her relaxed pace.
I arrived in the summit. There is little indication, as the path goes on towards the Eastern summit. There is no indication and doesn’t have a mountain mailbox but a few stones piled at one side.
The trees were shaking violently as there was a constant high speed wind and I felt worried if I could setup my antenna safely.
I decided to extend my EFHW wire over the ground and then raised my 5 meter carbon pole. As soon as I erected it and while I was fixing the guy line to the floor I heard a crack and, oh no, I saw my pole broken by half.
Doh! I put it down and considered what to do. I removed the hanging top part and put up again the bottom part with a height of just 2,3 meters. Should it be enough for HF operation?
I was spending more time than usual to start the activation and I saw my wife sitting not far trying to find a shelter in a slope. In a hurry, I moved towards the tree line to find also some shelter for my station.
I had brought my tiny MTR-3B CW rig. It has no volume control and I prayed for it was enough to hear to my chasers!
I put everything and switched on the radio, tuned the antenna and started cqing in 14 MHz.
The wind and the noise from the leaves flapping strongly above my head was so hard that it was very difficult to hear anything. I was calling and could not hear any reply for minutes, thinking this could be a fail activation, but the suddenly I heard the first chaser calling me, great!
I struggled to hear some of my chasers, and specially to the S2S. I had to use both hands to cover my ears pushing strongly over my hood to attenuate the external wind blowing.
After some minutes in 20m I qsyed to 30m that worked better for Europe, although my signal was probably radiated mostly NVIS at that low appex in my aerial.
I am sorry if I miss any of you calling me without a reply, and thanks to the ones I asked for repeats in order to complete the exchange.
I closed the log with 25 qso, being 5 S2S.
I was happy to log under these difficulties Kurt @HB9AFI/P, Jarek @SP9MA activating on OM, @EA5M, a long time without meeting S2S with Dani, Branislav @OM1BD (nice suffix!!) who had a lot of patience to complete my call, and Mario @DJ2MX activating with DL20SOTA.
I was happy to disconnect the radio as I was tired due to the effort of being concentrated standing in an uncomfortable operating position. After returning home I saw data from a meteorological station in that area showing gust of wind at 54 km/hour!
At home I noticed that this mountain had only been activated twice to date and only on phone, and therefore mine was a first time CW. I should get back again and do a proper one with a more calm weather.
On our way back we took some pictures of the lovely valley with grassy fields and little farms and houses sprayed here and there on the bent hillsides.
The autumn color are not yet at its best but the clouds opened and the bright sky provided these nice images:
The pointy peak is Mt. Mendaur, EA2/NV-072, I still need to pay a visit to it.
Ethnographic tip of the day
We completed our tour in the area paying a visit to the village of Zubieta, one of the picturesque small villages of this valley that describe the ambience and culture in the North of Navarra, with robust stone houses that show how they faced the way of living in the countryside against the elements.
Here the XV century bridge:
This is the ancient public washig place, an old custom before the birth of the washing machine:
Strong hands they had:
And the Zubieta water mill that was used to grind wheat and corn, now converted into a museum:
The turbine runner, core of the hydropower:
Thanks for reading, 73 de Ignacio