Monday, December 19, 2022

ZS/WC-043 Maclear's Beacon (Table Mountain) Nov 29th 2022

A challenging climb (unless you take the cable car) with easy VHF QSOs to activate | 2 points

This was my first SOTA activation in ZS land and provided my first ever QSOs in the country too.  Coupled with the iconic status of Table mountain and stunning views made this a memorable activation.


I have climbed Table Mountain several times, having worked in Jo'burg in the 1990s and then living in Cape Town in 2011.  I have usually taken the Platteklip Gorge route, which takes 2 ish hours and is like ascending a very long staircase, around 30-40 degrees inclination for much of the way but on a well made and popular/safe route.  If choosing this route, take plenty of water, a hat and sun screen as the sun and heat can be relentless.  The route starts near the bottom of the cable car and once at the top requires an easy flat 15 minute walk to Maclear's Beacon (in the opposite direction to the cafe/cable car top station).  I chose this route for the activation.

An alternative route is Skeleton Gorge, which starts at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, for which an entrance fee is payable.  This is a longer but more gentle route, taking 3-4 hours, but much of it is in the shade.  We took this route with the kids in 2011.

A week before arriving in Cape Town I had contacted the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre to see if there were any SOTA chasers that would help with activations.  I received a very warm welcome and several offers of help and advice.  I was also invited to join the SOTA/POTA Whatsapp group (Covering SA and Namibia) so that I could post details of intended activations and self spot.  This was hugely helpful and again the community were very supportive.

Back on Table Mountain, I climbed the final few metres to Maclear's Beacon, called 'CQ Sota' on 145.500 and enjoyed 7 QSOs covering Cape Town and the suburbs. 

Phil (ZS1WW) was very supportive in the planning stage and so was very disappointed not to hear me calling, despite being on the roof of his downtown office.  He later shared the diagram below, which explains the 'radio shadow' that some of the city is in - worth remembering.  Also worth moving around the summit to maximise coverage.


Next activation: ZS/WC-965, Vasco Dagamapiek (Cape Point)

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