SOTA: Le Pic Pelé (F/MC-036)

A Brazilian postage stamp commemorating football's Pelé
Probably not the Pelé they had in mind…

Le Pic Pelé was the third SOTA summit that I visited on April 23rd, after Les Cornes d’Urfé and Pierre Beille earlier in the day.

From aerial photos, I could see that there are at least two paths that wind up to the peak, and I marked the base of those paths as potential way points in my GPS. However, following the default Google Maps driving directions, I got to a point where my phone told me to take a left up a road that was clearly too rough for my car.

However, it did seem like a straightforward no-fuss way to get to the top, so I pulled the car over and parked in a gravel clearing, “Le Reculon”, near some stacked logs across the street from the rough road.

My rental car parked at the side of the road on a gravel lot
My parking spot, taken from across the road, at the base of the dirt road running to the peak.
A dirt road leads upwards
The same location, but facing upwards towards the peak, my back to the car.

I followed the deeply rutted and stony road upward, and at one point took a grassy side path that went around a particuarly difficult area, where loose stones had washed down and made for unstable footing. I continued up the path until it leveled out towards the top, and walked along the ridge until I got to a flat, dusty area where several paths meet.

A panaroma of the summit: a central, dry sandy area surrounded by tall pine trees
A panorama of the flat area where all the paths come together.

From here, there is a zig-zagging path that leads to the bald (“pelé” — i.e., peeled, denuded) summit. One website cites a legend about a fire-spitting demon that transformed into a whirlwind and wiped out all the vegetation on the summit. Regardless of how it got that way, you’ll need a support pole on this summit to give your antenna some height.

aerial photo of the summit and surrounding paths
The crossroads is at left and a marker shows the summit.

I started calling on 40m and kept it up for quite a while. I logged 37 qsos on that band, including one summit-to-summit with HB9TVK/P, and a couple other QRP/QRP contacts. On 20m, I had five more contacts and I even got one more on 30m, which makes this activation my personal best – 43 qsos.

A wood post with various somewhat cryptic signs attached
I have no idea what all these markings mean, but this along the path that I took

By the end of this activation, my FT-817 was doing that blinking thing, where the power indicator blinks to let you know you battery voltage is sagging, and that it would like to limit to 2.5W instead of 5W. My external 7Ah SLA battery had been in use all day, and was measuring 12V on receive. I gave a quick call on 2m FM, heard nothing, and packed it in.

That evening, back at the hotel as I watched results come in from the first round of French presidential elections, I filed my logs and did some quick calculations. In a 24 hour period, I had activated four peaks for the first time, made 103 QSOs, and worked SOTA chasers in Belgium, Belorussia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the USA.

Ironically, I have about three times as many QSOs this year logged under F/AI4SV as I do under AI4SV itself. I am hoping to spend some time in the early summer back in the US, so hopefully I can even out that score. Meanwhile, it is back to Madgascar and operating 5R8SV.

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