Planning a SOTA DXPedition on the Canary Islands 6

In January I’m lucky enough to be in-between job contracts and have the opportunity to spend 2.5 weeks on the Canary Islands (EA8) activating a total of 16 SOTA (Summits On the Air) peaks across Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera.

The choice of the Canary Islands was no accident, it’s the nearest place to Europe that offers warm sunny days in January, they just happen to have a bunch of amateur radio opportunities there too! As the Canary Islands are part of Spain they’re also signed up to the CEPT agreement, so no licensing issues and you’ll hear me signing EA8/M0JCQ/P.

The islands are all volcanic so essentially I’ll be operating from a whole bunch of volcanoes, hopefully all of which remain inactive! This is quite exciting and in some ways this is more adventurous than some of the proper DXPeditions operating from nice accommodation on a quiet beach – admittedly from harder to reach locations 🙂

The Equipment

The equipment will consist of my Elecraft KX3 transceiver and various antennas, including a SuperStick Vertical, home made linked dipoles and an end fed antenna as a third backup. The idea with the equipment is to have spares which I can revert to if needed.

For navigation I’ll be taking a SatNav for the car, a Garmin GPS unit for finding the summits, alongside traditional paper maps and of course a compass.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote SOTA SummitsI chose Lanzarote as my first island as it has plenty of pretty easy summits to activate. They all hover between 500-600m ASL and I should be able to activate all of the recognised summits except for EA8/LA-009 Timanfaya.

This one has never been activated, so during research I was excited to activate it for the first time, but I quickly found out that it sits in a very bad place inside the Islands most important and iconic National Park. On entering the park you are forbidden to leave the way-marked path. This path goes nowhere near the summit and the ground at the summit can exceed 100C! So there’s the reason its never been activated and probably never will be!

Here’s the schedule for my activations on Lanzarote:

Date Ref Name ASL (M) Latitude Longitude Points Activations
Tue 6th EA8/LA-005 Montaña Blanca 599 28.9777 -13.6407 1 4
Tue 6th EA8/LA-008 Guatisea 544 28.992 -13.631 1 4
Wed 7th EA8/LA-001 Peñas del Chache 670 29.1189 -13.5199 2 6
Wed 7th EA8/LA-003 Corona 605 29.1849 -13.484 2 6
Thur 8th EA8/LA-002 Atalaya de Femes 608 28.9184 -13.7826 2 8
Thur 8th EA8/LA-006 Hacha Grande 561 28.8878 -13.7806 1 5
Thur 8th EA8/LA-007 Pico Redondo 561 28.9042 -13.7769 1 3
Fri 9th or Sat 10th EA8/LA-010 Montaña Negra 509 28.9963 -13.6778 1 4
Fri 9th or Sat 10th EA8/LA-004 Guardilama 603 28.9641 -13.705 2 7
Fri 9th or Sat 10th EA8/LA-011 Señalo 507 29.0044 -13.7151 1 3
Sat 10th EA8/LA-009 Timanfaya 511 28.9995 -13.7437 1 0

La Palma

La Palma SOTA SummitsLa Palma is said to be a hikers paradise and very lush, which is in contrast to Lanzarote’s stark black volcanic landscape. I’ll be flying here from Lanzarote to save time, as they’re at opposite ends of the Canary Island chain.

La Palma offers some very big summits, all of which have only been activated once before. All three offer 10 points with a 3 point winter bonus, so 39 points for 3 summits. This is where the hiking and activations get serious!

All three of these will be a challenge physically, but EA8/LP-001 Roque de Los Muchachos offers the biggest operating challenge, at the summit they have a space observatory and there are strict flux density limits imposed on any radio communications. This essentially boils down to using a maximum of 1 watt from the summit. Now, I don’t know CW (yet!) so this leaves me with a tough activation relying on 1 watt SSB or running PSK31 or CW through my iPad, should be fun!

Here’s the schedule for my activations on La Palma:

Date Ref Name ASL (M) Latitude Longitude Points Activations
Tue 13th EA8/LP-001 Roque de Los Muchachos 2421 28.758, 28 45 28 N -17.8829, 17 52 58 W 10+3 1
Wed 14th EA8/LP-002 Deseadas 1950 28.5706, 28 34 14 N -17.836, 17 50 9 W 10+3 2
Thu 15th EA8/LP-003 Pico Bejenado 1853 28.6939, 28 41 38 N -17.8756, 17 52 32 W 10+3 1

Tenerife & La Gomera

Tenerife & La Gomera SOTA SummitsAfter La Palma I’ll be catching a ferry to Tenerife and from which I will do a day trip to La Gomera island. Tenerife is home to EA8/TF-001 El Teide, the highest mountain in the whole of Spain and at 3715m ASL it doesn’t disappoint.

El Teide will be a real challenge, not just because of the height, lack of oxygen and risk of altitude sickness but also because the summit itself is very restricted. You need to apply for a permit for a specific 2 hour slot on a specific day in which to make your ascent from the base camp, this I’ve done and received. On paper I’m due to be at the summit on Tuesday 20th Jan between 1100-1300. What isn’t yet clear to me, is whether this is just the time period in which you need to pass the security barrier on the way up or whether you need to make your ascent, in my case activation at the top and final descent within this time as well. As I said this will be tough!

Here’s the schedule for my activations on Tenerife & La Gomera:

Date Ref Name ASL (M) Latitude Longitude Points Activations
Sun 18th EA8/TF-002 Guajara 2715 28.2177 -16.6136 10+3 9
Mon 19th EA8/GO-001 Garajonay (Gomera) 1487 28.1112 -17.2507 10+3 2
Tue 20th (between 1100-1300) EA8/TF-001 El Teide 3715 28.2737 -16.6431 10+3 2

 

Conclusion

I’m still planning and ironing out the finer details of the trip, but I’m looking forward to this string of activations a lot. I’ll be active on the higher HF bands (20m/15m/10m) hoping to work back to the UK on QRP.

I’m looking forward to working plenty of SOTA chasers and I’ll post updates on here as I go. Keep an ear out for me!

6 thoughts on “Planning a SOTA DXPedition on the Canary Islands

  1. Reply Tim Kerby Jan 10,2015 16:55

    Have you considered running CW as a digital mode? I’m sure some people do that in contests using a software keyer and software to decide the morse. Might give you an extra option from the tablet with the right interface.

    Tim
    2M0TXK

    • Reply James Stevens Jan 16,2015 08:11

      Hi Tim,

      I had considered this, but in the end it all worked out using SSB using between 1w to 2.6w I was able to make 19 QSOs and successfully activate the summit, numbers were most definitely down compared to other activations but considering the low power some people simply couldn’t hear me 😉

      Cheers, James EA8/M0JCQ/P

  2. Reply Garry Jan 16,2015 00:07

    Good luck….worked you mobile this morning before work on 10 meters. Low but very readable. Your station was getting stronger but had to work! Garry KF5VDX south texas mobile operator….73 I’ll be looking for your next SOTA operation

    • Reply James Stevens Jan 16,2015 08:15

      Yes, it was nice to work you Garry, it was quite a surprise to have a ham from Texas call in, let alone a mobile operator on his way to work. I was limited to 10w out yesterday on the Elecraft KX3 but worked a number of U.S stations, I totaled 105 QSOs during a very enjoyable activation 🙂

  3. Reply Thor Jan 18,2015 18:48

    thanks for the QSO today. What a great activity. Would love to work you on Teide, but will be at work ;-(. Thor, DO2JX

    • Reply James Stevens Jan 19,2015 16:34

      Glad we could work each other, it was a nice activation yesterday and a lovely walk down at least, the walk up was scary 🙂

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