Looking at SOTAmaps, several associations overlap to the north of Madrid. I realized that without really going too far out of my way, I could visit a ten point peak in the EA1/SG association, which would put me over the top for gold level on the SOTA mountain explorer award. I’m not that much into awards, but why not? Having flown 8000 km to get here, another 20 km on the road is a drop in the bucket.
The trails to Nevero Summit (EA1/SG-003) depart from the Puerto de Navafria, near the centro de esqui nordico de Navafria. It being summer, there wasn’t much nordic skiing going on, but the cabin is there. Across the street from the cabin, there is plenty of parking on the Camino Horizontal at 40.986573N x 3.813780W.
I started walking on the wide dirt road to the side of the ski cabin and wandered along it for about a kilometer, all the while waiting for it to start sloping up. I checked my phone’s GPS, and it looked like I was walking to the north of the summit, so I began to doubt that I was on the right trail. I backtracked to the start of the trail and saw a sign pointing back the way that I had just come: “Pico Nevero”. So, that trail would lead to the peak, despite the odd direction.
I took a longer look at the maps at the start of the trail and realized that there is an about 10km loop that goes over the summit. I was conscious that I had a teleconference scheduled in the evening (they are inescapable) and that I had burned some time already in backtracking, so I opted to attack the peak in reverse, and head up the somewhat steeper but shorter slope.
Instead of walking along the road right next to the ski center, I had to angle slightly up along the main road, and take the trail to the right of these two signs. That trail leads past a couple cattle gates and starts climbing almost immediately.
I found the trail pretty steep, so I took it relatively slow (but had to keep in mind time to operate, climb down, and return to the hotel for the conference). The treeline ends abruptly at about 2000 meters elevation, so there is not much shade above that point.
I had some difficulty securing the bottom end of the extensible fiberglass pole and tying it down with guy ropes due to the rocky ground and gusty winds. The winds were welcome, though, because they kept away the flies that had plagued me lower down on the slope (I guess they come with the fields of cows around the summit).
I had a total of 23 contacts, all with European stations. Of these, two were S2s, with HB9AFI/P and 9A/S52CU/P. I had a single contact on 40 meters, with the rest on 20 meters. My antenna was fairly vertical, perhaps a bit more horizontal component would have yielded better performance on 40m.
I did make it back down the mountain and to the hotel in time for my call, which started in the evening and lasted a mind-numbing three hours. So, I guess I learned two things: 1) don’t take conference calls while on leave; 2) it would have been better to walk the long way around, having a gradual slope up and sharper slope down.