Mount Athos & Monk Apollo

From The Weekly DX SV/A – Mount Athos – SV2ASP/A, Monk Apollo, has been away from Mount Athos most of the summer. SV1DPI, Kostas, sent him a homemade interface to use for RTTY and PSK31. Apollo use to be QRV on RTTY, however over the last three years has not been able to operate this mode because of a broken TNC. Apparently NCDXF donated a new one (PTC II) but Apollo has not be able to get it set up. It’s not exactly clear when he will go back to Mount Athos, probably in about 15-2Ø days, but it is hoped that he would then try RTTY and possibly PSK shortly afterwards. He is very comfort with RTTY and can manage the pileup better, plus this may mean more hours on the air as it will cause less noise for the other monks. Most DXers don’t understand that Monk Apollo tries to be on the air as much as possible in his “free time.” He often works the bands while the other Monks rest. QSL Printer LZ1JZ ( ), Tony, has donated a new QSL design, which is a four sided folded card and can be seen at . If you work SV2ASP/A make sure you QSL via Monk Apollo’s QRZ.COM address. It does work and he is very reliable at confirming QSOs.

The Autumn/Winter 2004 issue of the Northern California DX Foundation Newsletter included an article by George Varvitsiotes (K6SV) about Mount Athos (SV2/A), one of the rarer DXCC entities in the world. The article piqued my interest in learning a little more about this very unusual place, and here is some of what I discovered. A self-governing entity encompassing an area of about 150 square miles in the Macedonia-Thrace region of northern Greece, Mount Athos is situated on the easternmost arm of the Halkidiki Peninsula that extends southeastward into the Aegean Sea. Since the first inhabitants settled there in the middle of the first century, it has been dedicated entirely to prayer and the worship of God. Presently, there are 20 monasteries in Mount Athos, mostly Greek, with each being a separate administrative territory. A total of about 1,500 monks reside in Mount Athos, which is considered the center of Orthodox Christianity. Access is very restricted, and no women at all are permitted. The Greek name for Mount Athos in Greek is “Agion Oros,” which means Holy Mountain. There really is an actual “Mt. Athos,” a 6,670-foot high peak. It is said that the Virgin Mary took refuge in the region after encountering a fierce storm at sea while en route to Cyprus. She called it a beautiful garden and it has since been generally referred to as “The Garden of the Virgin Mary.” It is today still called one of the most beautiful places on earth. Ironically, from a transportation standpoint it is virtually cut off from the rest of the world. There is currently only one licensed amateur radio operator in Mount Athos, this being Monk Apollo (SV2ASP), who operates on an irregular and very limited schedule. According to the NCDXF newsletter article, he is more likely to be heard in the days following Easter week each year. Unfortunately, no other amateur operations are permitted from Mount Athos, and no visiting amateurs are permitted to operate Monk Apollo’s station or use his callsign. Combining these severe restrictions with Monk Apollo’s limited on-the-air time, the opportunities to add Mount Athos to your DXCC entity totals are rare indeed. Nevertheless, the entity is workable and when you do work it you should consider it a real prize. It is truly . . . a world of its own!
Myron, W4UR

I think the whole Monk Apollo story is facinating. How cool would it be to get a QSL card from Mount Athos?!