Wednesday, 29 April 2015

EA6/MA-066 Puig se San Marti Activation

After lunch in the beach bar in Port de Pollenca we drove less than 10 miles to the outskirts of Alcudia. We used a road which leaves the MA-3470 at N39.49.25.9" E3.06'06.3". The road is quite drivable with care, but you need to look out for potholes. After our activation we used the other part of the road to exit on to the MA-13 at N39.50'39.0" E3.05'24.7". There is little to choose between the quality of both approaches. The car can be parked at N39.49'58.4" E3.05'48.9" and the summit to the right climbed from there. The more easily reached hill with the masts on the top to the north is not within the activation zone as the coll where the car was parked is well over 25m below the highest point. 

Not the summit - the nearby drive on hill with the masts is outside the activation zone
On our way to the top we chatted to a couple of climbers who had all the kit and were doing several climbs out of a reference book which they showed us. We continued the easy way which involved a short scramble to reach the summit which took us 20 minutes from the car. The view over the Bay of Alcudia was stunning, but as I had forgotten my camera I had to use my mobile phone to take a few pictures:

On the summit of MA-066 Puig se San Marti
Dave G3TQQ with the Bay of Alcudia as a backdrop
Half way through our activation we had a short sharp shower but fortunately Dave had his small brolly to protect the transceiver and we also donned our rain jackets. The shower quickly passed allowing us to finish the activation in the dry with 49 contacts completed on the 20m band in CW and SSB in 40 minutes. 

This was my final 14th activation of the 10 day holiday and I will certainly be returning back to Mallorca as soon as I can to do some more...

EA6/MA-050 Na Blanca SOTA Activation

After returning from the activation of Fumat MA-048 and having breakfast, Dave G3TQQ and I took the hire car back on to the Formentor peninsular to drive to a point beyond the Formentor Hotel. We parked near the end of the road at N39.55'27.32 E3.09'07.6". 

After leaving the MA-2210 we were a little confused as the road appeared to pass through large gateposts into a secure area. The road was serving the Formentor Hotel. We went this way without a problem, but discovered a less forbidding way back using a back road to the north of this road to the hotel. If you go this way I suggest taking a left fork not far after leaving the main MA-2210 road on the corner.

I kept driving (tarmac road) until I could go no further and parked in the widest part of the road about 100m before there was a chain across the road. From here we climbed a bank to find a path which was well marked with small cairns every so far, right to the summit of MA-050 Na Blanca. We ignored the Pivado sign at the start of the path as did the other hikers we witnessed taking the same route during the morning... 

Dave G3TQQ indicating the start of the path to MA-050 where it leaves the lane where we parked
The cairns made route finding easy and we reached the summit in 55 minutes. Here is the route shown on David Brawn's Northern Mallorca Tour & Trail Map - a GPX trace can be downloaded from the SOTA Mapping Project:

This was an excellent well marked out walk, indeed, one of the best of our holiday, yet it was not featured in any walk book we had. One station was set up just off the summit using a thick stalk from a dead shrub to support the pole. 

Dave G3TQQ pegs out the 30/20/17m dipole - the 20m links are set
Looking to the summit of MA-044 two miles to the west of Na Blanca
Looking north to the summit of MA-041 El Pal - the only summit on Formentor that has still be activated (May 2015)
Looking north east to Fumat MA-048 that I activated a few hours previously
As this was a first time activation I allowed Dave G3TQQ the opportunity to be the first to claim it, which he did with a QSO with Don G0RQL. Between us we completed 56 contacts in less than an hour on the 20m band including several summit to summit contacts: Log2map by ON6ZQ

Station: Yaesu FT-817 5 watts to a link dipole fed with RG-174 at 5m AGL

The writer Phil G4OBK about to leave the summit of Na Blanca
After our activation we went back to Port de Pollenca for our lunch in a beach bar with the ladies, before heading off for our afternoon activation of MA-066 Puig se San Marti. 

EA6/MA-048 Fumat SOTA Activation

This was my second visit to Fumat MA-048. I led a group of walkers up to the summit the previous day carrying a 2m handheld - but I only made two QSOs with EA6/G4OOE and EA6/G3TQQ on that occasion... 
Looking down on the MA-2210 road from Fumat on the Port de Pollenca side of the tunnel
Today on my last full day in Mallorca I needed an early start in the hire car... Later in the morning I was to collect Dave G3TQQ for an activation of MA-050. Then we were to meet my XYL and friend Kay for lunch in a beach bar, before heading off for our final activation of the holiday which was MA-066. 

It was easy negotiating the hairpins leading on the Formentor peninsular - for a change. At 6.00 am local time they were traffic and cyclist free. The MA-2210 road runs through a tunnel at the bottom of Fumat Mountain. 50m after coming through the tunnel an area on the left has been created which will accommodate about five cars and this is where I parked. From there you need to walk uphill for around 350m and then climb up the banking on your right to reach the donkey trail path, which is a zig zag stone path formerly used for conveying supplies to the Formentor Lighthouse before the road was constructed.
Fumat is the large finger of rock on the left of the picture
Formentor lighthouse just after sunrise during my activation
The donkey trail zig-zag can be short circuited in places and then you soon reach the col. The climb to the top looks a lot more difficult than it actually is. 

I was set up and on the air for 0528z which was just after sunrise. EA6/G3TQQ and EA6/G4OOE were worked again back in Port de Pollenca. Europe was still partly asleep and lacking in propagation, however I made up for it with three contacts with stations in Australia. With Fumat being quite pinnacle like, the shadow of the mountain on the ground below me was interesting. The summit pictured on the right ridge is EA6/MA-041 El Pal,  which to date has not been activated. 

I was operating for 45 minutes, but disappointing as the total number of contacts was, the quality DX worked made up for it. It was too early for 18 MHz - the band was tried but no contacts resulted from repeated CQ calls. 

Link Dipole on 5m pole in use on Fumat EA6/MA-048
I left the summit to head back to my hotel in Port de Pollenca for my breakfast, and to collect Dave G3TQQ before returning to Formentor to activate Na Blanca MA-050. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

EA6/MA-065 Puig de sa Cova Negra SOTA Activation

After our problems earlier in the day we had a change of plan. The intention was to finish off with a scramble to the summit of MA-066 which overlooks the Bay of Alcudia, however due to a shortage of time we opted to drive east to the town of Capdepera, near to the eastern coastal resort of Cala Ratjada. The summit was activated for the first time by Juerg HB9BIN two weeks before we arrived...

After Nick had negotiated the one way system in Capdepera, which was a pleasant clean town with a square, we found our way on to the winding pot-holed road which led to the summit. We realised on reaching the top that the road had been built to serve a radar station. The end of the road is gated and this is within the activation zone:

The area above and behind the radar array had been landscaped and looked almost like a rockery, and after an easy scramble up this is what I saw from the trig point:

Operating position for my station on Puig de sa Cova Negra - no interference was apparent on HF
Dave and Nick set up slightly below me amongst the "rockery". They were just about within shouting distance:

Time was short so after less than 30 minutes on the air and with 45 contacts logged between the three of us we went QRT and headed back to our hotel in Port de Pollenca. 

Equipment: FT-817 X 2 (5 Watts) - Link dipoles X 2 on 5m poles
Operators: G4OBK - G4OOE - G3TQQ Bands used: 17m & 20m

EA6/MA-053 Puig de Son Segui SOTA Activation

As the Alsatian dog came towards us I started to realise that I had chosen a hopeless route to the summit of Puig de Son Segui MA-053....

After leaving MA-060 we drove to a parking place near a path that I thought would lead us to the summit of Puig de Son Segui. It didn't - and we wasted well over an hour in the process. What made my error more ironical was that Juerg HB9BIN had sent me a route used by Martin DF3MC which I had failed to load on to my GPS. The start of that route however, was still in my memory and we were able to have a fresh start later on a much easier route to the top.  Here is a map of the two routes taken. The red route is the one to take...

Access to EA6/MA-053 (on foot only - strictly no vehicles allowed) is via the red track
The story is not that straight forward though... Our first attempt in finding the summit led us to a large house with a metal gate, we could hear a dog barking and bravely went through the gate to see if we could get permission from the owner to cross his land to reach the summit. It was at this point that the Alsation came into view and so we beat a hasty retreat getting on the right side of the gate just in time...

We retreated from the gate and attempted to find a way past the house and garden without success...
The owner of the house did not appear and we spent 40 minutes then trying to find an alternative way to reach the summit through the woodland surrounding the property. This was not possible as it was heavily wooded, fenced and walled so we used the access road which went to the house to return to our car. 

After a rethink we drove a mile or so to the start point of the alternative route which was provided by DF3MC, which can be seen on the map in red. Here we parked, and I attempted to communicate with one of the locals in English with a modicum of success, and parking was allowed, as was access to the Puig de Son Segui - providing we went on foot up the gated track. 

Correct parking place for MA-053  - local man with dog (left) and Dave G3TQQ to the right
It took less than 30 minutes to reach the activation zone, and then we walked on past various fenced and gated water installations (probably underground reservoirs) to a high watchtower where Nick and Dave set up their station.

Watchtower and enormous trig point (left of picture) on MA-053
I walked back for around 400m and set up adjacent to a compound. Conditions were not so good, and I made just 27 contacts on 10, 14 and 18 MHz. K4DY in CW was the best DX on the 18 MHz band and KI4SVM was worked on 14 MHz SSB. 

EA6/G4OBK operating position on MA-053 Puig de Son Segui
Back to the car then and a search for food and drink... fortunately we found a cafe in the first village we passed through.... this was after deciding that we ought to change our plan due to a shortage of time, and make for the most easterly summit on Mallorca MA-065 which was a "drive on".

Dave and Nick having lunch in the village cafe of Santa Eugenia

EA6/MA-060 Santa Magdalena SOTA Activation

I activated this summit with Nick G4OOE and Dave G3TQQ when we took a day off from a walking holiday in Mallorca in April 2015.  This was a three summit day and we moved from place to place from our hotel base in Port de Pollenca in a hire car.

The summit car park is easily reached from the main Motorway which you leave at the Inca intersection. We found a large car park and picnic / barbecue area less than 1 Km from the summit itself where there is a large concrete cross.

Car park and Picnic Area near to EA6/MA-060
A wide footpath leads from the car park to the summit.

Approaching the summit of Santa Magdalena, MA-060
We had a grey day and it started to shower towards the end of our activation, fortunately Nick had his station under a small shelter and Dave had a small brolly which was sufficient to keep the radio dry whilst the short sharp shower passed over us.  I set up near to the summit cross...

We operated close to the large cairn and cross on the summit

I remained on 20m CW and SSB for 30 minutes and logged 37 stations - best DX was a contact with CU3BL in The Azores: Log2Map by ON6ZQ  

We packed up in damp conditions (at least this was the last we saw of the rain that day) and then made our way to EA6/MA-053 which turned out to be more difficult than it should have been... see next blog report. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

EA6/MA-052 Puig de Maria SOTA Activation

The summit of Puig de Maria is easily reached via a steep hill from Pollenca town. If you arrive in a vehicle there are several places where you may park on the flank of the hill after leaving the main MA-2200 road south east of the town. We parked at N 39.52'14.5" E 3.01'02.2" as the road got quite rough after the next hairpin bend. 

The Sunday Market in nearby Pollenca Town
For more detailed information than I have of Puig de Maria go to this link: 

The road is a mixture of concrete and tarmac going to rougher cobbles near the top... 

The steps to the monastery - within the activation zone of EA6/MA-052
After a visit to Pollenca Sunday Market, which was of great interest to our walking group, (there was a fine live Latin jazz band playing in the square), we all set off for the top. A former monastery lies on the summit with cafe.  The service is slow but the open sandwiches made in the Mallorcan way are superb and quite cheap. Canned beer and soft drinks are also sold and there is a sitting out area which is popular. 

View of Pollenca Town from Puig de Maria MA-052
Nick G4OOE and Dave G3TQQ set up their station as soon as they arrived.  I was hungry, so after the rest of us had lunch the walking group departed.  I set up my station just as Nick and Dave were packing up.  We were warned not to operate within the walls of the Monastery by Juerg HB9BIN, who had been here a week before we arrived, so we chose a place outside of the walled garden area to set up. 

Nick and Dave had concentrated on 14 MHz (20m) and had worked all stations calling them (33), so I set up for 18 MHz (17m) and had an enjoyable hour long session as conditions were very good.  I finished on 10 MHz (30m) with 6 contacts and then I finally worked Dave and Nick on 2m FM as they were back in Pollenca. My log totalled 40 contacts using a Yaesu FT-817 and link dipole. K4MF was worked in USA. the other contacts were all over Europe: Log2Map by ON6ZQ. Puig de Maria is one of the most popular summits to activate in Mallorca and I was the 6th operator to put it on the air. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

EA6/MA-046 Talaia Vella & EA6/057 Serra de la Punta SOTA Activations

The two summits EA6/MA-046 and EA6/MA-057 lie between the town of Port de Pollenca and the village of Cala de San Vicenc on the north east coast of Mallorca. Between these two places there is a walking route called the Siller Pass. Access to MA-057 can be gained from this pass. It is unclear if access can be gained to MA-046 from the pass as I climbed it from the housing area north of Siller. 

The routes I took to both summits - GPX tracks can be downloaded from the SOTA Mapping Project
These two summits were activated on separate days, however for someone with reasonable fitness and agility both summits could be activated in the same day. A degree of scrambling and surefootedness is required on MA-046, and to a slightly lesser degree, on MA-057.  

EA6/MA-046 Talaia Vella activation

I activated this summit for the first time on the afternoon of April 25th 2015. It was activated soon after that by Adrian, EA6/MM0DHY on May 11th 2015. Unfortunately the stations who made contact with EA6/MM0DHY that day did not spot Adrian's activation and I was denied the opportunity of an easy SOTA Complete! In fact Adrian was QRV on that occasion for 30 minutes on 20m CW and I was in the shack at the time but not listening to 14062 KHz... enough moaning about the "none-spotters".... (We know who you are thanks to the open log system employed in the SOTA Database which is run by Andy MM0FMF)... so on to the report of my activation...
EA6/MA-046 is the farthest summit - seen from MA-057 when I went there two days later
After enjoying a walk from Port de Pollenca to Cala San Vicenc, where our walking group had a leisurely lunch, I returned with the group via the Siller Pass. At that time the nearby summit of MA-057 Serra de la Punta, was being activated by Nick G4OOE and Dave G3TQQ and I was able to make QSOs with them on 2m whilst on the path coming back from Cala San Vicenc. 

At Siller on the outskirts of Port de Pollenca (N 39.54'37.6" E 3.04'39.0"), amongst spread out homes with large gardens, a tarmac road goes north. I would suggest if coming by car that you park it somewhere in this area as there is no parking on the road north which ends at a final large house at N 39.54'49.0'' E 3.04'30.8".

From here a path leads through thick bushes for 50m and then goes on to reach a clearer, gradually rising rocky climb. The ascent from that point to the summit took me exactly 72 minutes. I had to back track once when I reached a precipice to my right which was unassailable.  A friend from the walking group, Steve (non-radio ham), was celebrating his 63rd birthday and expressed an interest in coming with me up to the summit. Here is Steve on the early part of the climb:

There were few landmarks to record on this climb, it was just a case of picking ones way from rock to rock following the easiest contour - which I found quite challenging and enjoyable. Just prior to the final scramble I came across these large red hearts painted on rock and also the green painted tortoise like rock just above the red hearts only a few metres below the summit, also pictured below:

A minute after taking the photo of the tortoise rock I was on the summit, finding a convenient place to set up my QRP station.

EA6/G4OBK/P station location on MA-046: Yaesu FT-817 - 5 watts to a 20m half wave dipole at 5m AGL CW/SSB
I didn't have much time to spare as our walking group had a meal booked in a restaurant in Port de Pollenca at 1715z to celebrate my friend Steve's birthday, so I only had time to operate on the 20m band in CW/SSB, and of course on 2m FM, where I returned the favour to G4OOE and G3TQQ (who were then coming down from EA6/MA-057) by giving them a QSO with MA-046. I managed to complete one contact per minute on average, with 36 QSOs in 37 minutes, before closing down at 1501z.

View to Serra del Caval Bernat and Cala Boquer from the summit of Talaia Vella
The descent proved easier than I thought it would, and I was back at the tarmac road by the first house in 40 minutes for the stroll back to our hotel in the town. 

Log2Map by ON6ZQ shows the location of all contacts made from MA-046, (except for EA6/G3TQQ and EA6/G4OOE which Log2Map was unable to place).

Steve's (in pink shirt) birthday party (Phil G4OBK in yellow shirt) with Phil's XYL Judy (in blue dress) with other Ryedale Walking Group members
EA6/MA-057 Serra de la Punta activation

Route taken to MA-057 Serra de la Punta - GPX track uploaded to the SOTA Mapping Project
Three days after my activation of MA-046 I had an early start, driving our hire car as far as I could towards the Siller Pass footpath and parking at a vee in the junction of two tracks at around N 39.54'25.3" E 3.04'14.0" where the track becomes a split private drive. The right of way takes the left hand of the two tracks and soon reaches a metal gate (the Mallorcans like their gates). The route then becomes a rugged footpath until a track is reached. To strike out for MA-057 the track is left behind at a building on the right, which I believe is owned by the local water board, I turned left here (N 39.54'36.2" E 3.03'52.5") to start the climb proper to the summit:

Looking for landmarks, there were few, however I did encounter this water point for the goats who abound in this rugged terrain:
White water vessel with tap and tripod at N 39.54'45.5E" E 3.03'33.8"
From the building to the top was quite a scramble and it took me 35 minutes to arrive at the summit cairn after leaving the track at the building pictured above. 

Cairn on EA6/MA-057 early morning on 28th April 2015 - summit was previously activated by G3TQQ & G4OOE

After working Nick G4OOE and Dave G3TQQ on 2m FM, who were still in the hotel waiting for their breakfast (SOTA Complete's all round!), I found a hole just large enough in the rock to accept my fishing pole and started calling CQ after a self spot on 10 MHz. At 0545z My first contact was with top German Chaser DJ5AV. The first UK station worked was Micky 2E0YYY/P for a summit to summit contact on 20m.  I followed this with Terry G0VWP and Mike G6TUH. At 0610z I worked Andrew VK1MBE in Australia on 20m CW on the long path.  M0HOQ Peter in my home town of Pickering was also worked on 20m SSB.  

Log2Map of the 25 contacts made is here
Antenna mount on EA6/MA-057
After taking a few pictures from the summit I made my way back to the hotel in Port de Pollenca in time for a well deserved cooked breakfast, before leading members of the walking group on a walk over the summit of Fumat MA-048 on the nearby Formentor Peninsular. 

Cala San Vicenc from the summit of Serra de la Punta MA-057

Friday, 24 April 2015

EA6/MA-040 Talaia d'Alcudia SOTA Activation

Our second day activating.  This was totally different from the first day when we concentrated on activating the easier Mallorcan summits which were accessible from a motor vehicle.  The Talaia d'Alcudia MA-040 has to be reached on foot and that is probably why it hadn't been activated before. 

Talaia d'Alcudia MA-040 as seen from the balcony of our hotel in Port de Pollenca
The walk route was chosen by the leader Anne from the Walk! Mallorca book by Charles Davis. Between us we agreed that Anne would lead the ascent with the group and that the three radio hams would leave the start 20 minutes earlier to allow more time for our activation of the unique summit. After we had lunch on the summit I was to lead the group back to the car park on the coast, near to a bar called S'Illiot. We returned the same way as we came up, the other group members climbed to the summit via a steeper alternative path. 

Three Amigos en-route to the summit at the Coll de Ses Fontanelles
It took me 40 minutes to reach the summit from the coll - the 1 h 40 min time on the sign refers to a longer route which goes around the back of the mountain. Here is a map of the route taken - which was also uploaded to the SOTA Mapping project in GPX format: 

As we approached the summit there appeared to be small Dr Who type Tardis cabin on the summit with an antenna on the top of it. It is hard to see it on the photo below which was taken looking up, and unfortunately I did not take a photo of the "Tardis" (which was an emergency hut for fire watching I believe) when we reached the top:

The summit was very busy and we had lots of visitors from several nationalities asking us what we were doing. It got busier later when our walking group members joined us...

EA6/G4OBK/P operating
Dave EA6/G3TQQ logging QSOs as Nick EA6/G4OOE admires the fantastic view over the Bay of Alcudia

Working with 5 watts on 14 and 18 MHz it was clear that HF band conditions had improved since the previous day with 34 QSOs being logged in less than 30 minutes. K4MF (Gary in Florida) was best DX. Log2Map (Thanks ON6ZQ). Between us we completed 75 QSOs having decided it was wise, with plenty of time available and the numbers of people coming and going to the summit, that operating one shared station was sufficient.

After eating lunch in between making contacts we packed the gear up and I led the walking group off the summit back to the car park at S'Illiot bar the same way as we had arrived:

We stopped off in Alcudia for a refreshing drink on our way back to Port de Pollenca. Here we are with other club members sat outside the bar in question: