73 Amateur Radio Magazine May 1988 , page 84
author : Chod Harris VP2ML
Santa Rosa CA 95402
MOUNT ATHOS AT LAST!
In Septemper 1987 six Greek amateurs ( SV2RE , SV2UA , SV2UF , SV2QO , SV2WT and SV2TX ) staged what many DX-ers around the world were starting to suspect would never occur: a legitimate operation from Mt.Athos.No Greek amateur had obtained permission to operate from the Holy Mountain since Manos SV2IW was on in 1980. In the intervening years,the Greeks have carefully scrutinized every operation from the remote peninsula,and quickly cried "foul" whenever they found problems.
For example , the Greeks bitterly fought DXCC acceptance of Frank Turek DL7FT's operation as DL7FT/SY/A , and even convinced the Greek authorities to revoke Frank's reciprocal amateur license.(The DF7FT/SV/A operation was eventually accepted for DXCC credit.) Then in 1986 the Greek stopped several italians from mounting a "radio propagation study" from Mt.Athos (See "Almost Athos" in the May 87 "DX" column.) Whenever the Greek amateur community objected to hams from other countriesoperating from Mt.Athos , Dxers around the world said , "Why don't you operate form Athos?" After several years , Dxers were beginning to despair , and started talking about deleting Mt.Athos form the DXCC list. So it was great news when the Greeks announced that they would soon be on from the Holy Mountain.
The operation began on the evening of Sept. 15 , when Nick Georgiadis SV2RE , president of the Radio Amateur Union of Northern Greece , received word from Apollo SV2ASP/A , a 35-year old monk at the DOCHIARIOY MONASTERY , that he had finally obtained entry and transmission permission from the Holy Epistasia. Nick had been negotiating for several years with Appolo , who is studying for his own amateur license , to get this coveted permission . The permit was valid for 15 days.
Nick immediately sprang into action , and started to round up amateurs who could get away for a two-week Dxpedition at a moment's notice.Many local hams had already used their yearly vacation time , and others had commitments that prevented their getting away for two weeks.
But within two days Nick pulled together five other amateurs and hundreds of pounds of amateur radio gear, including the following : YAESU FT-101 , FT-102 , ICOM IC-720A , IC-740 , IC-745 and KENWWOD TS-520.They also brought along VHF and UHF rigs and antennas , beams , and generators. At 5 AM on Sept. 18 , the group stuffed themseives and all their gear into a small rented van and headed out of Thessaloniki for the port of Ouranoupolis , where they expected to catch the ferry that serves the roadless Athos peninsula.Unfortunately , the hoat operators refused to allow their cans of gasoline for the generators.The amateurs had to settle for a single 25-liter can , enough to run the generators for a single day.Despite the short planning period and ferry problems , the group landed at the 1000-year old monastery of Dochiariou and quickly erected their antennas: tribanders and multi-band dipoles.The monastery loaned a two-story building to the amateurs , and provided generator power during the day , allowing the group to use their linear amplifiers.The monks even provided gasoline for the DX peditioners'own generators for contacts at night.
QUITE A HAUL
Using eight HF rigs , the six operators made almost 23.000 QSOs in 13 days using their own callsigns /SY. They tried to keep three stations on the air at all times , breaking only for meals and generator maintenance. As might be expected , nearly half of their contacts were with European hams , but they managed about 7.000 contacts with North American Dxers , 4.000 with South America , and even 1.300 Oceania QSOs.The Japanese amateurs couldn't hear the group , as a steep mountain blocked the path to the northeast.George SV2UA and Nick ended up hauling an entire HF station and generator to the top of a 1.200-meter high mountain to make about 1.000 Asian QSOs.Most of the contacts were SSB , but SV2UF/SY made about 3.000 CW QSOs.
Considering that none of the operators were either experienced Dxpeditioners or contesters , the group did a very fine job handing out Mt. Athos contacts.
A controversy , however , tainted this operation.After the group returned to Thessaloniki , some of the DX publications printed a false rumor that the group was demanding $5 for QSL cards , which would be a violation of DXCC rules.There was no truth to the rumor , and the Greeks have never even asked for donations , altrough the trip entailed considerable expense to the individual operators.The local radio club SV2SV handled the QSL chores for all six operators , and no additional donation or contribution other than return postage was required.
The group established excellent relations with the monks at Dochiariou , and fully expect to return for another Dxpedition in the near furure.Perhaps they can set up a station better suited to Asian contacts , and maybe even take along some experienced CW operators and Dxpeditioners to make even more contacts mext time.Meanwhile Apollo continues to study for his amateur license , between his work and religious duties , which take up to 16 hours a day.Apollo has taken the CW test once , but has not yet passed it.
When he does , Mt.Athos will fall way down the list of Most Wanted countries.