Winter Activations in Calabria

First activation of I/CL-049, Monte San Nicola - 1260m.
I arrived in Soverato yesterday and had a day in hand before my training course starts on Monday. With the weather mild and sunny, it was an ideal opportunity for some SOTA activity. I didn’t want to venture too far from base on the first day, so I went for a 4 pointer about 40 minutes away. I soon found out that Google Maps needs to be treated with caution in Calabria, not all the roads it suggests are that great. I found myself taking it very steady up a very damaged road. With 12km to go, I was worried if I would make it at all. However, to my relief, I came out onto a main road after about 10 minutes. This was obviously the road I should have taken in the first place. It wound its way splendidly up into the mountains and I found a great place to park just a short way beyond a large municipal picnic area:

There is no path anywhere up to the summit, and no summit cross either:

The activation zone is very large on Monte San Nicola, so I found a nice spot in the sun:

The activation went well. It was interesting how 20m and 30m worked much better for me than they tend to do in Austria. Unfortunately, propagation to Poland was particularly bad and I couldn’t work Mariusz SP9AMH/QRP on any frequency at all, although he was trying desperately at the other end. My new Li ion battery cradle and buck converter worked well, although I have reduced the output to 13.5 volts, so that the voltage stays constant for longer. The cell pack voltage gradually drops below 14.7v, which was what I originally set the output to, so the output rolled back to about 13v; still enough for the full 12w out of the KX2. Here is the log:

I had hoped for a double activation, but as I followed the road along to the next summit, I found more and more snow on the road. Without winter tyres, I would have no way back if I got stuck, and I decided not risk it in a hire car. I turned back and followed the easy road back to Soverato. Along the way - following the main road this time - I found a wonderful picnic spot overlooking an archetypal Calabrien village built into a mountain side:

I decided to stop here and eat my Ciabatta with Bruschetta Calabrese and cheese. The temperature was about 16C, so it felt decidedly spring like. Monday to Friday I have training, but the weather doesn’t look good anyway. Hopefully it will pick up over half term holidays, when I can venture farther afield.
73 de I/OE6FEG/P


Hi Matt,
Congratulation for first activation!
I think those summits are very wild.
I suggest to eat “Pitta and Suppressata”.
have good stay
iw2obx Roberto

A very rare association regional area that one Matt, the I/CL Calabria. Your’s is is my first chaser contact with the region in its entirety, so well done. No SOTA Activators living down in that part of Italy I guess… I’m glad you enjoyed the warm weather and found the right road eventually!

Conditions were much better on 20m band today into Europe than during the week and yesterday. Enjoy your course!

73 Phil G4OBK

And only the third activation in the entire region. It will take a bit more driving and some careful planning. I’m looking to stick to minor (yellow) roads where possible. 4x4 highly recommend.
73 Matt

First Activation of I/CL-015 Monte Scorciavuoi, 1745m

Storm Ciara brought some blustery weather to Calabria, but I was hard at work on my Erasmus course, so no problem there. With the course now finished, I got organised straight away to go north and tackle a 6 pointer. Another weather front brought some light snow to altitudes over 1000m last night, but the roads were all open. There is a law regarding winter tyres in some high altitude areas; if I had known I would have hired a car with them fitted. For now, I’ll just have to chance it. The sun was shining and the snow melted quickly as I made my way up the hill:

The summit has a fence, which makes setting up the antenna a doddle:

The sun on my back was really strong and there was no need for a down jacket. I have got my inReach sorted so that my three pre-set messages are for the summit in question (thanks for the help Andy). This must be done at the villa via internet. I then have to sink the Earthmate Android app with the server and connect my inReach Mini. Once that’s done, the preset messages appear automatically on the inReach. The benefit of this is that you can send as many pre-set messages as you like free of charge, whereas, you only get 10 normal messages in your monthly allowance on a basic €19.99 subscription. This is very handy if you are going to have regular internet access, but it might not be much use if you’re going to be off-grid for weeks. There was a lot of QSB on 40m today, 20 is still working best for me down here. I did, however, make contact with Gerhard OE6RDD, back in the Steiermark, which is always nice. My lithium power pack worked even better than last time:

Setting the output voltage to 13.7V meant the output stayed steady throughout the activation. The pack input voltage was at 15.4 by the time I finished. Here is the log:

The way back down the mountain was very quick and offered some great views of the national park:

The weather is looking good for Monday and Tuesday, tomorrow I have to finish an assignment. The temperature at the coast reached 18°C today, although it was about 5°C when I set off up the mountain. Whilst it is definitely cooler than the Canary Islands, there is a definite spring like feel to the days. The food is very cheap as well: calzone, 500ml wine plus green salad for €11.50. Petrol, on the other hand, is a bit pricey at €1.59 per litre.If I were not compelled to stay at the coast, I would try to stay somewhere more centrally located; perhaps Cosenza.
73 de I/OE6FEG/P


First Activation of I/CL-102 Monte la Rosa, 709m

I got invited to lunch by my Erasmus hosts, so I decided to save the assignment till Wednesday and work up an appetite in the morning with an easy 1 pointer. Monte la Rosa is only 15 minutes from Soverato and there is a very handy parking spot in the village of Petrizzi at the foot of the mountain:

In fact, it is possible to drive almost to the summit itself, but this seemed to defeat the object of getting some exercise before lunch. From the town, you need to aim for the summit with the antenna towers:

It’s a fairly easy walk up a well marked trail. There was only one dog that came out to bark at me as I passed a house; trekking poles are advisable in these parts. I forgot to take any pictures at the summit. To summarise: there is about S3 noise at this summit, so filters help a lot on this summit. There is not a huge amount of space, but I found some trees and an iron stake to use as a mast support. There’s still lots of deep and troubling QSB to make life interesting. I had to clear qso data once or twice during the activation as activators are increasingly sending my RST whilst I am still sending theirs. When I ask for my RST, they are long gone. Sorry to grumble, but if either of the following apply, you might not find yourself in my log:

  • sending my RST over the top of me whilst I am sending and then disappearing.
  • sending 599 73 and then disappearing before I can send your RST and confirm the QSO.

I always send QSL to confirm a QSO. If you hear QSL, you are definitely in the log. If you don’t hear QSL and leave the QSO, you might not be, but that is the chance YOU are taking. Here is the log:

Anyway, after a very pleasant stroll back down in warm sunshine I went to lunch:

Wild boar cooked 2 ways and fresh pasta, served in the sauce from the wild boar:


     73 de I8/OE6FEG/P

First Activation of I/CL-007 Montenero 1881m

I needed a good walk after such a great meal yesterday. I keep toying with the idea of Montalto in Reggio Calabria, but with the road climbing to about 1500m, I worry about snow. Well, today I decided to go for Montenero in the Sila National Park as I know the roads are clear up there. The weather is about as good as it gets at the moment. It’s quite a drive, and breakfast isn’t served till 8, so I didn’t get going up the trail till about 10:50:

There were a few patches of snow, but generally the going was very easy in glorious sunshine:

When got to ridge height, I passed a natural cave:

Finally the summit hove into view, with more significant accumulations of snow now:

There was once some kind of structure at the summit that is now just a heap of scrap metal:

There is also a fence at this summit, greatly facilitating antenna set-up:

The activation went very well with an unusually large pile up on 20m. To top off a great afternoon, I got my first NA DX in a long time:

Lars is almost always the first chaser I work. There should be an award for being consistently first out of the blocks. Thanks to all chasers for a great activation and a fantastic winter’s afternoon in the mountains. It really felt a lot like the Canary Islands today: not a breath of wind and very warm in the sun. Oh, and the crocuses are out:

   73 de I8/OE6FEG/P

First Activation of I/CL-313 Monte Pecoraro & I/CL-055 Monte Trematerra

I got all my assignments finished yesterday, so I’m now a free man; until Sunday. The weather is a lot colder and windier than at the weekend, so I decided to stay local and do a double activation of two 4 pointers. Because all the mountains in Italy are higher, you get your winter bonus even on the 4 pointers. The way out to Monte Pecoraro is quite good, but the roads are full of potholes in the Serra National Park, so I had to take it steady once over 1000m. There is a great parking spot near Monte Pocoraro and an easy trail to the summit:

Like most of the summits here, the top is forested, so no spectacular view I’m afraid:

The activation zone is large, so I found a spot with more space for the antenna:

CONDS still variable. There was lots of QSB, and some chasers had problems getting through. K4 doesn’t help, but see below. Although there was no snow, I was very glad of my down jacket, it was chilly in the wind. My internal KX2 battery is dropping voltage very quickly now, might have to buy a new one soon. Anyway, with the summit in the bag I headed over to Monte Trematerra. This was the summit I passed on when I first got here due to snow on the road. Thankfully, the roads are now clear and I was able to park up by some waterworks, only 2.5-3km from the summit:

A bit of sun on the way up:

Judging by the roadsigns, it is possible to drive up to the ridge, but it seems a shame to do that. The summit plateau is, again, quite large with plenty of room for the Windom:

The activation went a bit better this time and I got my second North American DX of this trip:

The noise of the wind turbines and the dense beech forest gave the whole area a rather spooky feel:

As with Monday, I didn’t see a single other person on the trail all day. If you like solitude, this is the place to come.
73 de I8/OE6FEG/P


Well done Matt,
Binge in Calabria!

1 Like

First Activation of I/CL-051 Monte Gremi & I/CL-111 Serra Schiavello

This was my last day activating for SOTA, I fly back on Sunday, so I have to pack my things tomorrow and buy a few special groceries :wink:. The weather has improved again, although the wind is still fresh and breezy at altitude. I decided to stay close to base, as I don’t like driving for more than an hour and a half just for one summit. The main road out to the Serra National Park is quite quick as well. The road onwards to Monte Gremi is like most roads in the mountains: in poor condition. Finally, after much weaving round potholes, I got to the parking spot:

Monte Gremi is certainly the easiest and most picturesque summit I’ve activated during my time in Calabria:

There was a nice view of the sea this time:

As with Montenero, there was a strange triangular pillar at top which made an ideal antenna support:

With the sun on my back I happily rattled away at the Morse key. For the first time this holiday, I actually met some people on the way back down. Serra Schiavello is just down the road on the way to the coast. The road is very scenic and even though it’s only 1 point, Serra Schiavello should definitely be included in the day’s activities. Once again, there is plenty of space to park, but the summit is a bit overgrown:

All the buildings are abandoned and I set up among some wild growing fennel. The view was still terrific:

The activation went well and, as with other activations at the moment, it included some NA DX:

Well, all good things come to an end. It was time to pack up and head back. The drive along the coast road is very enjoyable. I thought it must be great for kite & wind surfing in summer; just miles of straight sandy beach. I will do one more entry tomorrow with some tips and advice for activators thinking if coming to this region, but after that it’s back to Austria and hopefully some skiing.
73 de I8/OE6FEG/P


Look at the colour of that sky!

Matt, stop this now, you’re driving me insane as we’ve had grey skies and rain since Christmas :frowning:

Thanks for I/CL-051 < s2s > F/AM-364 + 73 de Roger

So, to conclude, I have put together a few tips for other activators thinking of visiting Calabria.

The weather in February can be both warm and spring like and cold and wintery. Zip-off trousers and a down jacket would be useful.

There are many flights to Lamezia airport from all over Europe, but not all lines run in February.

The roads in the mountains are often in poor condition and winter tyres are mandatory in many of the areas we need access to. If you are hiring a car (pretty much essential), then make sure it has winter tyres at a bare minimum, and is preferably a 4X4, which will aid your progress on the damaged roads. The summer tyres I had were piss-poor and barely had any grip on dry roads, let alone wet and snowy ones.

There are both wild boar in the woods and free roaming dogs on the farms. I would not want to go walking here without trekking poles.

Access & Mapping
The Calabrian Mountains are not as wild as you might think, but walking routes are definitely not as numerous as in other areas. The Open MTB map was very useful for showing rights of way. Open Topo just shows trails.

Spotting and Mobile Coverage
I had a mobile signal on all the summits, but it was a bit sketchy in areas. I always take my inReach mini for spotting. It also has an SOS function, which, God forbid, could come in handy.

Radio & Bands
A look at the logs shows 20m was far and away the best band. A QCX for 20m would work very well down here. I used a KX2 and a 40-6m Windom. No one batted an eye at my batteries in Treviso airport.

Getting round Calabria takes time. Speed limits are very low (although everyone ignores them) and roads are bendy. A central location like Cosenza would work well.

Must Try
The local deep pan pizza, called Pinsa.
The local Calabrian wine.
Seafood is often marked with a star in the menu if it is from frozen and not fresh.

Hope that helps. In general, there’s a real spring like feel down here and I really enjoyed my trip, highly recommend.
73 de I8/OE6FEG/P SK