After acquiring an FT817 earlier in the week I was looking forward to trying it out from a summit. With the weather forecast for this weekend looking good I settled on Sunday as it looked to be the better day of the two.
Having activated G/SP-005 Pendle Hill early in February, the next nearest 2 point summit was G/SP-007 Fair Snape Fell, so that would be my target for Sunday. In a very unusual act of good planning for me, I had actually packed most of my gear the night before so after finishing my GB2RS broadcast & net at about 10:25, I packed the rest of my gear & made a quick dash to the shop & to the garage for some fuel.
The journey to the village of Chipping was quite pleasant, but once through Chipping & onto the single track lanes heading to Fell Foot I was a little unnerved to see not just black ice, but proper sheets of ice on the road surface where the sun does not reach. I took things very carefully from that point on & arrived safely at the very busy parking spot at Fell Foot.
There were several paragliders enjoying the glide down from Parlick, & finding that it was quite warm I dispensed with my hi-vis jacket & donned my normal outdoor waterproof jacket. The main reason I bought my FT817 was in an attempt to reduce the weight I carry. My FT897D is a superb radio & if I could take it up every summit I do I would, but with the lowest weight I have yet achieved being 21 Kgs, a steep ascent is more like weight training than aerobics so the relative light weight of today’s 17 Kgs including motorcycle helmet, did make the ascent a little easier.
Today I think is also the first ascent when I had found walking poles truly beneficial, & not just something to raise the ends of my HF link dipole above the ground.
I ascended skirting around the west face of Parlick & was passed by several walkers coming back down the hill. From a distance I had already seen that there were patches of snow in the higher gullies & once heading towards the ridge between Parlick & Fair Snape Fell I came across some very frozen Snow with deep footprints in. This must have been there for a while as my 127 Kgs did not even dent the surface!
While part way up the track to the cairn at the top of the western face of Fair Snape Fell I heard John MW3SBH/P calling CQ SOTA from GW/NW-002. I listened while he worked an Irish station & speeded up my pace in order to get into the activation zone & work him Summit to Summit. I left the track & headed more directly uphill until I was satisfied that I was no more than 10m below the cairn shelter, which would put me no more than 20m below the true summit. I called in & those magic words “Summit to Summit” worked a treat & he called me back straight away. Thanks for the surprise QSO John
I continued up towards the Cairn shelter which at that time was quite busy, I even had to miss greeting the trig point as it was being used to support a gentleman’s camera. I headed East about 100 metres & decided to set up away from other fell visitors where I would not be in the way.
I had many enquiries from curious members of the public, & everybody seemed to be really enjoying the fantastic weather.
The object of the exercise was to find out how well 5 watts performs on HF, as I have been very impressed with other stations I have heard using that power level or less. I started to set up my 80/60/40 link dipole & on raising the pole disaster struck, it snapped!
It has served me very well & is used not only on summits but at home as well, so it was only it a matter of time before it happened.
A quick repair using Insulation tape & up went the aerial only a couple of inches lower than normal.
Then came disaster number two, I had left the patch lead that connects my rig to my ATU at home, so that would severely limit the number of bands I could use.
Thankfully, when I made my link dipole I made it resonant on the bands it is intended for & a quick test on 60m gave 1:1 SWR
I checked the 60m channels & heard Walt GW3NYY/P on GW/SW-028, so when he called QRZ I called him using those magic words again & we worked each other at 59 both ways. I left Walt to carry on & while finishing setting up heard Gordon G0EWN/P on G/NP-022 on my 2m handheld, so that made it 3 QSO’s & 3 summit to summits so far. Not bad going I thought.
I put out a CQ on FL & was answered very quickly by Robert G0PEB in the Isle of Wight, who was followed by several other regulars. Unfortunately the band was badly affected by QRM today so I tried a little channel hopping to avoid it & give as many chasers as possible the chance of working me. This worked up to a point but I am still very sorry that I didn’t manage to complete a QSO with GI4SRQ. I resorted to a self spot to alert chasers to my next channel, FA, which did remain clear as the QRM seemed to be concentrating on FE & FM at the time. After working a few more chasers on what remained a generally clear frequency & with a final call bringing no takers I decided to try a different band.
My antenna is resonant at 3.666MHz but that seemed to be in use so I took the bull by the horns & put out my first CQ SOTA call on 3.532 CW at a steady 15wpm. 3 calls brought no response so I went back to 3.666ssb I called there. A couple of continental stations appeared on the frequency & it was obvious they were not hearing me.
Not being confident enough to use CW on 40m I looked for a clear frequency & found 7.160MHZ was not only clear, but gave 1:1 swr. While I was just making myself comfortable Fabri, IZ1GLX called CQ so I called him & low & behold he gave me 57 into Mondovi!
So 5 watts into a HF dipole does work
I packed away the HF set-up, put up my 4m J-Pole & called CQ SOTA on 70.450MHz FM. I was answered straight away by Mike G4BLH who kindly spotted me, although I notice he made me a G7 instead of G0 I then had a further 4 QSO’s on that band before deciding to give 2m ssb a miss & simply set up the driven element of the SB5 as a vertical dipole & put out a call on 2m FM.
My first call was answered by Paul M6PMA, who was followed by Steve GW7AAV and several other regulars.
After packing up I heard Helen MW0YHB/P calling CQ from GW/NW-044 & once again those magic words worked & I was very happy to give Helen one of her very few summit to summit’s of the day.
I then heard Tony 2E0LAE working Helen from home so asked him to QSY & had a nice chat with him about using AM & we agreed we would give it a go at some point, probably on 10m. Tony, if you read this could you let me know the time we worked & the report you gave me, I couldn’t write anything down at the time as I had packed everything away. I know I gave you 59.
With the temperature much lower than it was only an hour before I made a hasty exit from the summit as the sun set in the west. I was little concerned that I might also have forgotten my head torch & would not like to descend this hill in the dark. Fortunately there was plenty of light from the very nice sunset & & although the sun had set 30 minutes before I got back to my bike I could still see comfortably.
On checking my rucksack when I got home I had remembered my head torch, so I wouldn’t have been feeling my way down.
All in all a very enjoyable day
Many thanks to all stations that worked me under what were at times difficult conditions.
I took plenty of photos & have quite a bit of video too so I hope to put them online in the next few days.
2m FM - 20 QSO’s
60m SSB - 19 valid & 1 part completed QSO
40m SSB - 1 QSO
4m FM - 5 QSO’s
5 Summit to Summit QSO’s
Thanks again & best 73,