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 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.
I 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:
|Tue 6th||EA8/LA-005||Montaña Blanca||599||28.9777||-13.6407||1||4|
|Wed 7th||EA8/LA-001||Peñas del Chache||670||29.1189||-13.5199||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|
La 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:
|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
After 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:
|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|
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!