SOTA: 5B/CY-019 Kalogyria

I tried and failed to activate Kalogyria earlier this year and did not have time for another attempt before leaving Cyprus, so hopefully this information will benefit the next person making the attempt.

Here is the culprit – one of the tire nuts, which proved impossible to remove when my Landcruiser’s tire blew out as I wound the trail on the way up the mountain. My tire iron had a hard time maintaining a grip on the nut and after a few attempts I stopped because I didn’t want to strip it. When I came back up the mountain with a better tire iron, the nut was finally removed forcefully by applying enough force to break the bolt off within the nut (right image).

This is a six-point summit, which is located on the western side of the island, just above the Kannaviou reservoir, a good landmark for navigating to the start of the trail towards the peak, which branches off from route E703 to the west of the dam.

From there, follow the dirt road along the edge of some farm land and find the road that wraps around the west and then northern edges of the lake. That road is smooth, but has some large humps that require high clearance. There are a few nice fishing spots along the way. To the north of the lake, the road splits (the red versus the dotted green road in the picture above). I took the road to the right (red), which involves driving over a steep hump and some rough ground before settling down to become a gravely, generally one-lane, road that follows the outer edge of the mountain.

There was a lot of rock fall, and I got out a couple times to push some of the larger boulders aside on the way up. Going around one corner, I heard an unusual whooshing sound and stopped to check the car: the front left tire had blown. These tires were in good condition, but perhaps three years of mountain activations had taken their toll.

There was a large gash in the tire, so I set about changing it. I blocked the wheels and cranked down the spare from under the car. However, when I got to the point of trying to dismount the wheel, I found that a few of the tire nuts would not budge. I had successfully changed the tires on this car in the past, but I suspect at the most recent servicing, the nuts had been put on with a pneumatic wrench. My tire iron was slipping off, and since I could not budge the last few nuts, I aborted the attempt, locked up the car and considered my options.

The position of the car (heart) was a long way from the peak (marker) and it was already early afternoon since it had taken me a while to drive there from Nicosia. I decided to pull the plug on activating the summit and hike the ten kilometers back to E703, where I coordinated with my wife to pick me up in our other car. Instead of walking the way that I had driven up, I walked just a bit further up the path to where the two roads came together again and walked down the road that I had not taken (the green dot road).

I cannot say the green dot road is really better than the mountain side road as it has some deep furrows in it, but when I came back with friends to finish the job of changing the tire, we took that road to avoid being stuck behind my car and to allow the possibility of getting in front of it to pull. We went up with a high-clearance pick-up truck, which required one of us to get out and guide the driver at several points.

Eventually, we got to the car, and using a cross-shaped tire iron, we were able to have two people pushing/pulling at a time. That and a little WD-40 helped convince two of the nuts to come free. The final nut was particularly obstinate and the only solution was to apply enough torque to snap the bolt off the wheel. Enough of that bolt was left to still be useful, but even if it were not, I don’t think that being down one bolt would have compromised the mechanical integrity of the wheel.

With the replacement wheel in place, we made our way slowly down the mountain, leaving this peak unactivated for now. My advice for the next activator is to take the dotted green branch of the road up, as I think it is less dangerous than driving along the edge of the mountain. I suppose it would also be a good idea to go with a buddy and ideally a second vehicle. The other take home is to get one of those cross-shaped tire irons and make sure that the wheel nuts can be loosened manually if needed prior to setting out.

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