ARRL December 2022 Article
Hjörleifshöfði, Iceland (TF/SL-216) is a small summit located in the southern part of Iceland. The summit is an easy hike and offers amazing views when the weather cooperates. The summit is bare requiring activators to get creative in getting antennas in the air.
Summit Name: Hjörleifshöfði, Iceland
Location: Vik, Iceland
Date: August 4th, 2021
Weather: Foggy, 56 degrees
On a Scale of 1 to 5
Hiking and activating Summits on the Air (SOTA) in Iceland had been on my list for a long time. I finally got a chance this summer (2021) to do it. My wife and I decided to hike both the Laugavegur Trail and Fimmvörðuháls Trail in 3 days thanks to nice weather. Along both of these trails are numerous SOTA summits. Prior to the trip I made waypoints of each summit location. Some had been activated before while others had not. How hard could it possibly be to activate SOTA in Iceland? I crafted a SOTA expedition plan with thoughts of banging out summits and collecting QSO’s and points.
Well, it didn’t go as planned. The first summit was at the trailhead of the Laugavegur Trail.
Since we had a weather window, we decided for the sake of time to bypass it and start the hike at the lava fields instead. Looking back I wish we had completed it as it was reasonable hike up with nice views. If I do this hike again, I would spend a day at the Laugavegur camp doing day hikes.
For my full Iceland review, check out my information on the :
- Hazards and Technology
Another viable SOTA summit was located to the west of the Álftavatn Lake Hut. This also had a trail and would have been very doable. However, we were planning for a 20 mile day so we bypassed it. This area is also a nice spot to explore and day hike.
Past the Álftavatn Lake hut a couple of miles is the SOTA summit, Hattafell (TF/SL-094). As you can tell from the pictures this was a beast of mountain due to the severe steepness of it. I’m sure it could be climbed but I wasn’t going to do it. Note, in the picture it is the green covered 3k foot summit.
Lastly, is the summit at the Skogas Waterfall. Considering we had completed 50 miles in 3 days with 12k elevation gain, we were not too motivated to do more climbing. The logistics of the bus back to Reykjavik proved to more important.
After returning to Reykjavik we got some sleep and the next day rented a car to ironically drive right back to the area we left from. We drove down to Vik, Iceland where I did a late afternoon aftivation at Hjörleifshöfði (TF/SL-216). We were lucky as we had the whole summit to ourselves. While it was foggy the temperatures were pretty mild.
I set up my antenna mast on a small pole that was in the ground and started out on 40m calling CQ SOTA de TF/KB1HQS. Being an extra licensed operator gave me CEPT privileges to operate in Iceland. Being an Extra class license finally paid off, as it allows me to operate as TF/KB1HQS without any additional permits from the Icelandic government thanks to the CEPT rules. If you ever decide to travel internationally and operate amateur radio, getting your Extra license is worth it. If I was a general license, the same oppourtinity would not apply.
I made all my contacts on 20 meters after trying 30 and 40 meters. This was my first international SOTA activation and first activation to have all DX contacts.
Radio gear for this trip was my Mountain Topper 5 Band and Yaesu FT1DR HT. My usual loadout of antennas included my Packtenna End Fed and Arrow VHF antenna.
I gave 2m VHF Simplex a try (145.500 Mhz) with no takers. I wasn’t surprised considering there are only 330k people in Iceland, and I imagine the % of those who are licensed to be very small. Add the fact I was almost three hours away from the largest population center on the island (Reykjavik), my chances of contact were dismal.
While I didn’t get to do the big Iceland SOTA expedition that I had envisioned, at least I had put all my plans in place. Iceland is so remote, logistically complicated and expensive that you really need to have all your planing completed before showing up. Due to the extremely high cost of everything, I felt like there was a large $$ meter constantly running and I needed to make good use of my time while there.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend Iceland for travel and SOTA.
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