Before arriving in Barcelona, I spent some time looking over SOTA maps and came to the conclusion that none of the peaks were within a reasonable trip by public transportation, but that quite a few are within an hour and a half ride by car. The Turó de L’Home topped my list — its point value was higher than other peaks, and there are hiking articles online that describe a parking place and a reasonable walk to the top.
The peak is an hour plus drive out of Barcelona along major roadway, and following the route that Google provided, I had to take a couple toll roadways. Unfortunately, the rental car did not include an automatic payment device, but paying by credit card was easy and fast at the toll barriers. In some cases, you just pay along the route, other times you take a ticket when you enter the roadway and submit the ticket at the other end and make payment.
The road up the mountain is a little winding, but in good condition. The road ends in a parking lot, marked with the yellow arrow. The peak is marked with a red star.
I came during the off season, but it looks like during the summer there is a small cabin at the end of the car park, which is presumably manned by park staff.
There is a map to the side of this cabin.
A lowered barrier prevents cars from following the road upward, but it is no problem for pedestrians. Walking along the paved road upwards, the house atop the peak soon comes into view.
The road continues around, and there is another small parking lot, which is not used. Given that it was in the mid-20s Celsius, I was suprised to some residual snow at the side of the road.
Looking out to the north, I saw snow-capped peaks, which I assume are the distant Pyrenees.
Just beyond that, a trail runs to the top of the peak, right up to the house.
There is a plaque on the side of the house indicating that the site was initially established as a weather station in 1932.
To the south, there is a somewhat lower hill with a commercial telecommunications tower and microwave dishes.
The peak rises to the right of the house, about even with its roofline. In the center of the peak is a concrete block with an embedded geological survey marker. I ended up duct taping my SOTAbeam telescoping mast to this. I used a lot of duct tape.
The mast supported the far end of my LNR end-fedz 10/20/40 antenna, and I lifted the near end with a stick held in place with a pile of rocks. As usual, the rig was an FT817 running 5W.
There is a ring of metal near the peak, which might at one time have served as the base of a pole. It is only about 2-3 cm deep and was filled with dirt, but I did consider using it as the base for my portable mast. However, I reasoned that if I did this I would need to support the mast with guy ropes, and was not sure that I could drive the stakes into the ground. Given some substantial wind at the peak, I thought the duct tape solution was quicker and more secure.
I had set up an alert, and was auto-spotted by the reverse beacon network when I started calling on 20m. I worked a total of 36 stations on the outing on 40m and 20m. Calling on 10m, or calling SSB on 40m and 20m produced no results. According to the log, I worked stations in England, Germany, Hungary, Spain, USA, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Swede, Italy, Canada, Romania, Norway, and Austria.
Coincidentally, I got an email after the activation that my Swiss contact, Manuel, HB9DQM, was planning to work the same peak the next day when he came to Spain. As I write this blog post, I see from the SOTA site that indeed, he was up there on March 18th. Of the six times the peak has been activated, a third of them occurred this week.
After packing away the HF antenna, I dialed around on 2m FM and was stunned to hear Vittorio, IS0ANY, calling from Sardinia. I was amazed that he could hear me at all since I was running 5W to a 2m/70cm whip antenna. I calculate the distance as about 540 km, which is the best I’ve ever done on 2m.
I still had some sunlight, so I drove down to EA3/BC-015, one of four peaks in the EA3/BC association that run in a line from Barcelona up the coast. From EA3/BC-008, EA3/BC-015 was to the southeast.
Again, I followed my Google-generated map, but shortly after turning off the paved road running through a town, I realized that the rental car was not going to make it up the dirt road. The dirt road was rough but passable past some houses, but beyond that it was heavily eroded from run off, with deep furrows and ruts deeper than my cars clearance. GPS said that I had about 7.5 kilometers from that point, and not knowing where I was going, I decided to call it a day.