SOTA: EA2/ZG-065 (Monlora)

I had a business trip, which included Barcelona and Zaragoza, Spain. When the visit to Barcelona got cancelled mid-trip, I diverted to Zaragoza a day early and rented a car so I could get far enough outside the city to activate some SOTA peaks. I managed plotted a trip to three sites: EA2/ZG-065, EA2/ZG-060, and EA2/ZG-011, the first two of which had never been activated. I am glad to report that I managed to reach all three sites and get the car back to Zaragoza-Delicias train station in about ten hours. This trip is doable in a short visit with a rented car, but since many of the roads involved are dirt, you would only want to try this in dry weather. I think some of those roads could challenging if they turned to mud.

The summit is not subtle. This is the view from east of the summit.

The first site is Monlora, a mountain-top monastery. The road here is paved all the way, so I think any car could make this. GoogleMap navigation suggested a bizarre route, essentially up the side of the mountain facing Zaragoza, and I don’t think there is a road there. Maybe it is an old goat trail. Instead, look at the activation site and follow that road back to the city of Luna. Then plot your way to Luna from wherever you are, and it should be fine.

The Google route is in blue, but take the yellow route, further north, take a street across Luna, and then follow the parallel road on the other side of the hill up to the real road leading to the site.

Coming off the highway from Zaragoza, the mountain is very prominent: a large, flat-topped hill with a building and some commercial antennas at one end. The approach winds up and around the mountain and makes a final turn towards a flat, straight road running directly to the church. At that turning point, there is a small parking area, and that is where I recommend parking. To the side of this parking area is a memorial sculpture in stone and metal.

A memorial sculpture and plaque.

A path leads from that sculpture towards the trig point. If you have a mast and want to strap it to the trig point, you can definitely do that, but it will require a bit of a jump up to the ledge.

Trig point! I didn’t see any designation on it, but I also did not clamber up for a look.

Not far beyond this, there is a sign that lists the days of operation of the monastery. I don’t know how busy it gets up there on those days, but consider picking another day for your activation. The day that I went, I did not see a single person.

At the far end of the road is a church building of some sort.

The monastery, presumably. Looks more modern that I would have expected.

Next to that, some commercial antennas.

The whole area is very well maintained and there are some park benches along the road, which might be a consideration as an operating position.

While the trees near the antenna farm were larger than the ones at the other end of the plateau, I wanted to put some distance between my activation and those antennas, so I went back near the trig point. I found a place that had a tree high enough to support the far end of the end-fed antenna and a smaller bush to support the feed point.

This very humble low-hanging end-fed halfwave antenna did a fine job.

The antenna did not have a lot of elevation, but it worked fine. The noise level was low and I had no problems related to the antenna farm. I ended up with 24 CW contacts on 20m and another 4 on 40m. I heard a little activity on 10m, but had no replies. Best contact of the day: EG4GURU, a station commemorating SOTA’s Guru, EA2IF, who passed away last year.

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