SOTA Activation Report for Moel Siabod, GW/NW-010 on 13-05-11.
Moel Siabod - 872m, 8-pointer.
G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P - HF QRO on 40 & 160 / 4m FM QRP.
IC706-2G to Link Dipole (80 thru 20) with loading coils for 160m. 9Ah Li-Po battery.
IC-E90, 3.5W on 70,450 MHz to extended 2m helical with counterpoise. 1.3Ah Li-Po battery.
QRO Pack: 11.5kg.
All times BST (UTC plus 1) UOS.
This was another short-notice afternoon activation decided upon at around 11am the same day. It was also the last of our weeklong family holiday in Betws-y-coed. Today Denise & Hazel had promised Jack that they would take him to the zoo in Colwyn Bay so I did some quick thinking and asked them to drop me off for an assault on Moel Siabod - GW/NW-010-8 from Pont Cyfyng. Jack owns a ‘stick with a horses head handle’ but he wasn’t allowed to take it to the zoo. As it was already coming up to noon I knew I’d only have around four and a half hours to play with. The WX forecast was good until 16:00 but that turned out to be optimistic.
This was the second completely new NW for me this week. Usually I would be doing Tal-y-Fan on the last day but this, although harder, was more convenient to access; being about 4 miles from our location. It also meant that I would have more time and the advantage an extra 4 points. The route was one plotted a few years ago but never used. I also had an alternative from the A408 but that was further away. Both were in the GPS.
It was raining quite heavily when we arrived at the start point so waterproofs had to be donned - never a good thing. The start is easy to access from the A5. Coming from Betws’ you turn left on the C-Road at SH7341 5719 (168m), which leads to Pont Cyfyng. After about 100m you can park. The route is indicated with a wooden sign, ‘Moel Siabod.’ Bear right over a cattle grid to start the ascent up a tarmac single-track private road.
After about 5 minutes the road swings sharp right and the path goes straight on. After winding around it joins a track which you follow uphill past a building on the left. There is a long mostly straight section of track with three ladder stiles at SH 7315 5675 (283m), SH 7282 5653 (336m) and SH 7236 5623 (388m). Just before the last one leave the track on a grassy path to the right. Climb the ladder to cross the fence and follow the grass path. After a while the surface becomes a natural rock fissure, slippery today but there are parallel options in places.
Further up, the gradient increases significantly (SH 7145 5576 (644m)) and the surface becomes loose. Eventually you are confronted with the summit ridge seen end-on. The ridge is mainly scattered rocks and boulders with grass between. I rejected it. This is the point to bear right and follow a grassy path (SH 7125 5550 (709m) which steadily gains altitude in a most agreeable manner with the summit ridge on the left. Cross another ladder stile at SH 7109 5539 (730m) and continue on grass. Within about 400m of the summit you start to encounter rock fields. I lost the path (if in fact there is one through the rocks) and ended up ‘taking on’ the rocks in a bee-line from roughly 200m out. Three more path waypoints here: SH 7085 5513 (784m), SH 7060 5491 (824m) and SH 7050 5477 (850m.)
The summit was shrouded in cloud and it was soon raining. There was a shelter but it was occupied. I later noted that it was the largest one I’d ever seen bar none; GPS‘d at SH 7054 5470. The trig point was big and solid too. Prior to the summit photos I GPS’d the top of it at SH 70532 54638 (872m).
The ascent took from 11:24 to 13:51; there were a lot of waypoints to mark on the way though not many photos in the rain and low cloud higher up. The dipole was set up near the edge about 30 or 40m from both the shelter and the trig point.
MOEL SIABOD, GW/NW-010, 872m (2,861 ft) 8 pts, 13:51 to 15:43. 6 deg C. Overcast with rain showers and 15 mph wind. Low-Cloud most of the time. Good phone coverage on all parts of route (Orange). (IO83AB, WAB:SH75.)
40m CW - 21 QSO’s:
After phoning Roy G4SSH to set up a sked on 7.032 it turned out to be busy requiring the use of 7.033. I also wanted to say I’d be on 160 latter and 40 SSB if I had time. I set the power to 40 Watts in case 40m was not working close in. I know Roy is vigilant so wondered why he wasn’t coming back to my calls. With the power jacked up to full he heard me but could only give me 229. 40 wasn’t working too well to Scarborough but next in the log was Kevin G0NUP; also from Scarborough.
Alain F6ENO was a lot louder as were some of the G’s who called in so my power was reduced to around 60W. Good to know one band was doing two jobs. Strangely, some of the DL’s were down on their usual signal strengths. In addition to five G stations, the following call areas were worked: F, DL, LA, SM, OE, HB9, OK, S51, I1 & EA. The latter was a weak EA6/DJ5AA and with 100W it took seven or more minutes to get ‘GC0OOO/P’ and ‘GW/NW-010’ over to him. Many stations were reporting QRM and this must make it difficult to be confident that a QSO is good. For instance Frank DL6UNF tried a second time but was assured ‘good QSO in the log.’ Normally 10 to 30 Watts has worked well on here but today even with 100 it seemed like a bit of a struggle and time was slipping away.
At the end I announced a QSY to 1.832 MHz. Roy picked this up and in contrast to the earlier 229 we now had a pair of 599’s!
160m CW - 3 QSO‘s:
In a rush and with the hope of fitting in 40m SSB, I started on here without proper slug adjustment making the VSWR shoot up intermittently. Power used was 100W throughout and with the status quo I worked G3WPF Reg, EI7CC Pete & G4RQJ Rob. Signal reports ranged from 559 to 579 outgoing / 419 to 579 incoming. Before making the final CQ’s the slugs were tuned properly but there were no further takers - nothing audible at all.
4m FM - 1 QSO:
After packing up the dipole the shelter was used for try on 4m. It was 3 or 4 minutes before anybody came back. In fact only one did - G8BUN worked from Snowdon the day before. Robert was the second op this holiday to ask about the ‘C’ in the club-call.
With a rendezvous time to keep, I left the summit at 15:43. Once the rock field was crossed the descent was a simple reversal of the up route. Roy phoned on the way down to ask how Top Band went. Frank G3RMD had emailed him to enquire. I listened carefully with Frank and other ‘missing’ stations such as EI2CL & G4OBK etc but didn’t hear a whisper. Better luck next time but Cheltenham is a long way in daylight on 160m this time of year.
By adding a little gentle running now and then, I was back to the ‘car’ by 16:38 but no car. The zoo trip had taken a bit longer than planned and 3-year old Jack had to be dragged away from the Tiger. To be fair they did meet the pre-arranged time of 17:00. I waited beside the A5 filling in missing times in my log and sending texts in the rain.
Walking: 700m (2,297ft) ascent, 2 x 4.5 km = 5.6 miles up & down (unconfirmed).
1 hr - 27 min up.
55 min down.
(2 hrs - 22 min total walking time.)
1 hr - 52 min summit time.
4 hrs - 14 minutes gross.
Navigation: GEKO 301 GPS (inc altimeter).
40m CW: 21
160m CW: 3
4m FM: 1
Like NW16 this seemed a friendly mountain even though the views were poor today. I did see down into the valley below a time or two but was much too busy to dwell on it. It isn’t that pleasant when you can see all your carefully prepared radio gear and the log getting wet but it has been far too sunny over the past couple of months for my liking which made sitting in the rain less unwelcome. Again the activation had to be curtailed and sadly the only voice radio was on 4m.
We come to the end of our week in Wales. All the expeditions have been half-day ones. The seemingly slack approach to SOTA planning has done me a wealth of good this holiday. I haven’t given SOTA a thought the night before which coupled to a lazy breakfast and morning, means I can actually sleep. I need not start getting anxious until noon. This also fits in with other family members. The activations have been less demanding too with some lightweight VHF only work. I think there may be some more of those when we go to LD in June with the walking group. Finally, qualifying Snowdon on two consecutive days was a memory that’ll linger for some time.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED including the Top Band ops for and spotting assistance. Also to Roy at the other end of the mobile phone.
73, John G4YSS
(using SSEG Club callsign, GC0OOO/P).