2012 Malpelo DXpedition to Be Extended
The HK0NA DXpedition to Malpelo -- an island located approximately 235 miles from Colombia’s Pacific coast -- is scheduled for early 2012. Organized by the DX Radio Amateur Club (DXARC) out of Colombia, the DXpedition boasts an international team of 16 operators from eight countries. According to DXpedition leader Jorge Prieto, HK1R it is highly unlikely that the various Colombian authorities will permit another DXpedition to Malpelo anytime soon. With this in mind, he said that the dates of the DXpedition will be extended by two to three days from the previous 12-14 day plan. The approximate dates of operations will be January 21-February 5/6, 2012.
In early January, the Colombian Navy will bring four HK0NA team members to the island, along with all equipment, radios, antennas and infrastructure needed for the DXpedition. These radio amateurs will set up camp, the two operating sites, radios and antennas. All together, they will spend about 30 days on the island. By arriving early and getting everything set up ahead of time, the rest of the team can immediately get on the air upon arrival by chartered vessel.
Each of the two operating sites will have a complete complement of antennas, radios and 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, Europe and Africa,” Prieto said. “In order to have a clear shot at Japan, 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. This operating site will be located on platforms situated below the actual peak, to lessen the physical risks to the team members. Even so, it is 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 on the air, each with the capability of dual-mode operations on all bands.”
Prieto explained that the team’s safety 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. Every effort will be made to maximize QSOs, while protecting the safety of the team members. It is a delicate balance.”
Malpelo is an uninhabited island, except for a small military post manned by the Colombian Army, which was established in 1986. Visitors to the island need a written permit from the Colombian Ministry of Ecology. In July 2006, Malpelo was declared a natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1969, 12 radio amateurs -- including then-ARRL President Bob Denniston, W0DX/VP2VI (SK) -- undertook a DXpedition to Malpelo Island where they encountered pirates and sharks. Click here for their story.