SOTA: 5B/CY-001 (Chionistra)

I had been saving this one for while, the tallest peak on Cyprus, also known as Mount Olympus. In the winter, this summit is a ski slope, which seems hard to believe now that it is the summer and temperatures are routinely peaking over 40C. I headed up the mountain to get out of the heat.

The ski slope is just behind, the base is to the left. The view is northward.

One of the complicating factors for this site is that there is a military base on the summit itself. Authorities on Cyprus get a little twitchy when people approach their military installations, particularly if they have a camera or worse, radio equipment, in hand. However, this peak is something of an exception because the hill is dual use and frequented by skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers. So, there is a fenced in compound at the very top, but it is not unusual to see tourists milling around just outside the fence. I still wouldn’t recommend pointing a camera at the installation, but I had no problem setting up an operating position about ten meters from the perimeter near the top of the ski lift.

X marks the operating position.

The summit altitude is listed as 1950m in the SOTA database, but since the top is occupied by the base, it is necessary to activate somewhere outside the fence at a bit lower elevation, but still within the 25m vertical activation zone defined by the 5B Association. See the map below where I have highlighted the 1930m and 1920m contours. To be safely within the activation zone, I recommend trying to be at or above the 1930m contour.

Here’s the view down the ski lift towards the ski resort. For winter activations, you could ride the lift to the top.

There are a few options, and I picked the one that I thought would be least confrontational, but was not optimal for radio. There is a trail that cuts across the access road just south of the facility. There is a gate across the bottom of the trail, so you cannot drive it, but there is plenty of parking to each side of the main access road. I followed that trail around to the east and then north, not far from the top of the ski lift. That area is relatively flat and has a few pine trees that not really tall enough to be very effective antenna supports, but worked fine to keep the end of my counterpoint elevated above the ground.

The disadvantage of this position is that the take off path to the north-west is obstructed by a hill and a huge radome. I had no problem being picked up almost immediately by the reverse beacon network the previous day under similar ionospheric conditions, but I went twenty minutes calling CQ from this peak before I registered on the Reverse Beacon Network. During that time, I worked seven stations that are not typical SOTA sloths, but must have just spun the dial and heard me calling. When I did finally reach the RBN, there was a flurry of activity with some familiar call signs including two S2S with Polish activators. My general impression was that my signal was getting out reasonable well to the north, but that my signal into most of western Europe was attenuated.

When I switched to 20m from 17m, my battery voltage was dwindling, so I turned the power down a notch from 5.0W to 2.5W and worked another seven stations. My impression was that the skip was better on 17m, and that I probably should have started there. Hard to say, since 20m is a more popular band in general. Overall, I had 26 QSOs, so not too bad.

There is an area above the 1930m contour to the northwest of the compound, but it is further from the access road and not a place that people typically go. Whereas occasional tourists wander the path out to the ski slope, I think you would attract the wrong sort of attention bush-whacking the other way around the facility.

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