More than 300 kilometres from any land, summer and winter attacked by meters high freezing Atlantic waves, access only for mountaineers with special tools; that is Rockall. Located in the North Atlantic, this island has been visited only sporadically. Specially trained marines and the dare-alls of Greenpeace were the only ones who could stay on the island for more than a few hours. Now a group of die-hard amateur radio operators took up the challenge to land on the island in order to make thousands of radio contacts.
Rockall is the summit of an old volcano located between the North tip of Scotland and Iceland, sticking out 20 meters above the Atlantic. Landing on the 500 square meters rock is very difficult as it has steep slopes at all sides. The area is infamous for its high seas and very changeable weather all through the year. Many shipwrecks in the neighborhood are proving that.
“Island hunting” is a very popular radio sport. Before, the bigger the number of different countries contacted, the higher the status of a radio amateur. With modern equipment and more people going on expeditions, the world grew smaller and it is not uncommon radio amateurs have contacted all 338 countries. The next challenge is to contact radio amateurs from as many islands as possible. So radio amateurs are setting up expeditions to ever more deserted islands to satisfy the needs of their friends.
On all European islands, radio amateurs regularly set up their antennas. An exception is Rockall Island; making it the “most wanted” spot for ten thousands of hams. Except the brave MS0IRC crew, who managed to make a few hundred contacts, all other attempts to activate the island failed. Thorough preparations, fierce training and a wide support have to make this effort to a success.
The group consists of Belgian operators, all of them with an excellent reputation in contesting, DXpeditioning and with many years of IOTA activation experience. An extensive support team will take care of transportation, construction of special made housing, development of antennas and filter systems, etc.
As Rockall is not a Caribbean island with sandy beaches, landing on the rock is dangerous without special preparation. Therefore the team of operators is trained in mountain climbing and going through simulations of the landing from cold water unto steep slopes. Specially made equipment to make the landing possible is tested.
Why going through all these troubles and taking risks? First of all, because the challenge is out there, landing on this island requires much more than just paying for a boat to bring you. Personal commitment, team spirit, physical and mental endurance will be essential. This is what we want to go through to give a new IOTA point to many radio friends. It is too easy for us sitting behind our radio in our warm, cosy radio room and telling others where to go and how to get there. We want to go all the way! We want to rock all!
We recently captured a video of the famous landing on Rockall by Tom Mc Clean. Now you can see what it’s all about!