LA1K / LA100K / LA1UKA

Easter “Σάμος” SOTA-trip with SV8/LA1K/P

Last year during our jubilee year, a trip to Samos (Σάμος) was initiated by club member, Greek representative and Samos local, Irini (Ειρήνη)! An offer and initiative were brought up on our workspace on Slack, but it got buried in the threads unfortunately, and forgotten about. A month later, the contest CQ WPX RTTY 2023 was scheduled and Irini, LB5DH and LB5PI were set to work the station during the day. As RTTY is more open for chit-chat compared to SSB the topic was brought up again rather frivolously. It only took mere minutes until LB5DH and LB5PI realised the housing for the week would actually be free at Irini’s family and suddenly looking up airplane tickets became way more interesting than QSOs. A SOTA-trip with LA1K/P to SV/AG was somewhat sporadically gonna happen after all.

Map of the island with all the SOTA locators overlaid on top. It’s a bit bigger in real life.
Courtesy of and Google Maps

Swoosh, skipping a few months ahead until the 11th of April, the trip begins! Before we left Trondheim for Easter celebrations, we had already packed the radio equipment, as we wouldn’t return to our clubhouse in the meantime. With us, we brought the one and only FT-891, HeathKit tuner, antenna and some very small batteries to accommodate the sizes allowed to carry on airplanes. Our usual mast is too long for normal airplane luggage, so we planned to source it in Samos. LB5DH had most of the shack with him and was able to complete a setup and run a few QSOs from his vacation destination in Volda. The lacking mast was compensated by borrowing his great grandfathers old bamboo fishing rod. For the trip we decided to use the LA1K callsign instead of LA100K, which was the jubilee-callsign for the year. This was because we thought the remainder of the club should freely be able to use it, and because a CQ with “SV8/LA100K/P” would quickly get tiresome.

LB5DH’s setup in Volda, with makeshift stand crafted from the remaining snow

LB5DH and LB5PI met up in Athens (Αθήνα) one day early to mostly see the Acropolis (Aκρόπολις) (a brand new tourist attraction) as Irini would be arriving a day later from a trip to Italy. We didn’t get to activate any SOTA-summits here unfortunately, as we were going to acquire a mast for our antenna when arriving in Samos. The next day, 12th of April, everyone met up at Samos, and we were greeted by Heidi, Irini’s mother. An avid hiker herself, she had already gone ahead and bought the pole we needed for our setup from a local fishing shop. The rest of the day we had a quick look around at the town of Pythagoreio (Πυθαγόρειο), where we were staying for the week. Irini had to catch up on her formal Greek very quickly though, as the electric company had shut off the power to the condo! A quick phone-call and a meet-up at Heidi’s place for dinner, we laid out a rough overview for the rest of the week. Heidi had been on a lot of the summits already, and could have been an avid SOTA-participant herself if she had a license!

Named after a metro station?
Paying late bills!
Gyros and planning!

The next day we woke up early and got ourselves a rental car we needed for the rest of our travels. First on the list was SV/AG-063, Profitis Ilias (Προφήτης Ηλίας) on Mount Karvounis (Καρβούνης). Irini and LB5PI had voted for a big Jeep that looked really cool, and LB5DH voted for a more compact Suzuki. We messed up the order, so undemocratically LB5DH’s choice was the winner after all. A car, which LB5PI dubbed, “The Senior Citizen’s Off-Roader”, whining about it the rest of the week. Nevertheless, it was quite the vigorous little thing and got us up the steep mountain and muddy roads with no problems; we even forgot it was 4WD as we didn’t even need to use it on most of the trips!

…and we’re off!
From the left: LB5DH, Irini, Heidi and LB5PI

After a final trek to the top on foot, we arrived at the top elevated at 1160 meters. With a good view of the rest of the island and several messages from Turkish cellphone providers, welcoming us to their country, hopefully the radio conditions with the rest of the world would be good as well. As it turns out, they were! We got the station up and running very quickly and the QSOs we needed for an activation and casual QSOs, as Irini didn’t have a license just yet. Unfortunately, the battery voltage regulator we brought along malfunctioned, so for the rest of the trip we had to pay close attention to the remaining power. A phone call to the maker of the regulator was quickly placed from the summit for troubleshooting to a less than impressed LA2QUA.

Getting started with the antenna
What a view! That’s Vathy in the distance

The following day, we decided to go for the closest summit, which was within walking distance from the town. It wasn’t much of a summit, more like a lean hill with a nice flat field. Perfect placement for our setup, we might add. Just like the previous day, the activation of SV/AG-069 Triada (Τριάδα) went without any problems and with plenty of battery left. After walking through tall grass for a while and reaching the paved road again, a question was brought up if there were any ticks here. To which Irini replied quickly with a laughing, “yes, lots!”

An abandoned shack, now our shack
Nice with some flat, firm soil for once!

Saturday the 15th, we were back to using the car again to travel to the island’s eastern side. We traveled to the biggest city, Vathy (Βαθύ), previously known as Samos City, and went up the mountain road to the closest Profitis Ilias (Προφήτης Ηλίας) chapel. Our goal was to walk from here over to the summit of SV/AG-066 Theios (Θείος). This day however, proved to be very windy and we thought we should give it a try another day when the weather was calmer.

You just have to trust us, it was very windy!

Instead, we went even further east to the bottom summit SV/AG-067 Georgios (Γεώργιος). This summit had a walking path from the woods and when we parked we were greeted by two wild dogs that must have smelled our lunches. After some shoo’ing we walked up a long set of stairs before arriving at Zoodohos Pigi Monastery (Ιερά Μονή Ζωοδόχου Πηγής). The summit wasn’t in reach just yet, but in the road further towards the top was a military base. As we couldn’t cross through we had to go through the rocks and bushes on the side, meanwhile being not discreet at all and barked at by some guard dogs a lot smaller than the ones that greeted us by the car. Eventually, we arrived at the summit and set up our camp. It was more rocky and not as easy QTH as the day prior but we eventually got everything set up nicely. Mid through our activation though, a lot of noise came from the bushes and we were wondering if some of the military personnel were having a stroll through. Suddenly, a pack of goats ran just beside us. Luckily they weren’t as curious as other goats we’ve met and we were able to activate once again.

The flattest surface area was almost in the woods at this summit
Cute little goaties

Succeeding having gone up to the summit twice, as we forgot some mittens at the top, we still felt we had some energy left and decided to head out for a second activation of the day. A first for any of us! We chose SV/AG-065 Profitis Ilias (Προφήτης Ηλίας) as it was on the path home. At this point it may be confusing that two summits have the same name, as well as several other landmarks. The explanation we got was that Ilias, (Elijah, Elias) was the Prophet closest to the heavens, thus the chapels are built on peaks and named in his honour. This peak was no different and a beautifully decorated chapel was located at the top. At this spot however, there was a thick growth of bushes, and LB5DH suggested that we should try an elevated antenna for the fun of it. It worked nicely once again with the summit being activated.

We’re not beating around the bush…
…we’re just surrounded by it!

After two trips on the same day, we got more tired than we had expected, so we rested for a day between our trips. We also had arrived just in the middle of the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations, so there were a whole lot of celebrations that Heidi and LB5DH participated in, as Irini and LB5PI were fast asleep. With a day off however, it was back on track with the hikes. This time we went south to the town of Spatharaíoi (Σπαθαραίοι), and the mountain Bournias (Μπουρνιάς), which of course had locator SV/AG-068. After we reached the top we realised there were a lot of telecom-antennas here already, so hopefully there were enough room for our antenna as well. By this time we already had become very quick at setting up and packing down our equipment, so it probably became the shortest stay at the top of any summit we reached. Later during the day we realised we hadn’t gotten a QSO with our club at home and wondered if we should set up at the garden of the condo at home. At this time it was getting dark, and as we were only having a 10-20m antenna, neither of us could hear each other anyways and we had to try from a different top.

Irini setting up the antenna in record time!

The day after however, was the last full day of the trip. Some of us were getting pretty tired, and some had come up with pollen allergies. So, we decided to take the day off, like most tourists probably would. We would however, not give up on a QSO with LA1K at home just yet, and decided to try out the radio one more time. This time we established a QTH over at the beach. We put up our shack over at a closed water sports rental and placed the antenna firmly in the sand. Had this been during the summer the beach would probably have been too crowded to pull this off! In Trondheim, Heidi LB9WI was manning the station and we tried to get contact. We tried different bands 10, 15 and 20 meters, and even though we could hear LB9WI and she could hear us, we couldn’t hear each other on the same band. As we were about to give up, we decided to give a last effort on the 17 meter band. At our QTH in Trondheim, the 17m and 15m share the same bandpass filter, so LB5DH had to guide how the coaxes should be swapped over the phone. To our surprise, on the 17m band we were able to hear each other and LB9WI got the QSOs safely logged. By now, we had achieved most of the goals we set for our trip and there was only one thing left to do; it was time to get back home.

Trying to reach Norway from the south of Samos
Troubleshooting with the 17m band

When the trip was originally planned, the tallest summit, SV/AG-025 Kerkis (Κέρκης), was what we aimed for. Sleeping bags and proper hiking shoes were jammed into the luggage between the radio equipment so we could take on the tallest summit, and sleep beneath the skies, just like Profetis Ilias. However, the cloudy weather would not give up and all days of our visit the summit was fully overcast. We managed to get 5 out of 8 summits on the island though, so perhaps it’s a sign from Ilias himself that we have to return one day to complete it all. Regardless, we had a nice trip to Samos and were able to see lots of historical places and have many amazing hikes.

Little kitty on forklift

The Norwegians Henrik (LB5DH) and Sondre (LB5PI) would like to thank Irini and Heidi for showing us around and the Samiots would like to thank LA1K for the visit!

Featured image details:
At the top of Karvounis SV/AG-063 by the chapel Profitis Ilias
With: LB5PI, LB5DH and Irini, Photo: Heidi

1 Comment

  1. Sverre Holm (LA3ZA)

    Nice report. Samos is a nice place for a tourist, and also for radio. I was SV8/LA3ZA a couple of years ago from there.

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