Recently three US members (K4UEE, N4GRN and W6IZT) of the Malpelo 2012 DXpedition flew to Cartagena, Colombia and met with six of their Colombian counterparts. The purpose of the two day meeting was to make some critical decisions about the upcoming DXpedition to Malpelo Island. Also, checklists and inventories were finalized and all team members’ responsibilities were assigned.
Since it is highly unlikely that the various Colombian authorities will permit another DXpedition to Malpelo anytime soon; a decision was made to extend the DXpedition to 16-17 days from the previous 12-14 day plan. The approximate dates of operations will be January 21, 2012 through February 5/6, 2012.
Four team members will travel with all equipment, radios, antennas and infrastructure to Malpelo in early January. They will be transported by the Colombian Navy. They will arrive about two weeks prior to the rest of the Team and will set up camp, the two operating sites, radios and antennas. They will spend about 30 days on the island. This will allow the rest of the team to begin radio operations immediately upon arrival by chartered vessel.
As mentioned there will be two operating sites, each with a complete complement of antennas and radios with amplifiers. The first operating site will be co-located with the Colombian marine’s camp on the east side of the island. It is clear to East Coast USA, EU and Africa. In order to have a clear shot at JA/Asia, the Pacific region and W6/W7; the second operating site will be located near the top of the highest mountain peak on the island. However, to lessen the physical risks to the team members, the operating site will be located on platforms situated below the actual peak. Still, it will be a 45 minute uphill climb to reach the platforms. The antennas for that site will be on the top of the mountain peak. At times, there will be as many as nine stations QRV with the capability of dual mode operations on all bands.
Safety of the team is paramount. We will be installing a winch system to hoist team members and all of our equipment from our chartered ship’s Zodiac onto the island. From there, manpower will carry the equipment the 300 meters straight uphill to the marine camp. The trail to the elevated operating site is extremely dangerous. We will utilize harnesses and safety ropes to minimize the risks. This is going to be a difficult and expensive DXpedition. Every effort will be made to maximize QSOs while protecting the safety of the team members. It is a delicate balance.
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Jorge Prieto, HK1R
Bob Allphin, K4UEE
Gregg Marco, W6IZT