Glyder Fawr NW-003 and Y Garn NW-004
Thursday 9th July 2009
This was another day that Paul and I had arranged to carry out a couple of activations, but we had not decided where we were going. After checking the weather forecast a multitude of times during the week, we eventually decided that it should be sufficiently cool and dry to attempt the activation of Glyder Fawr NW-003 and Y Garn NW-004. Having been out on nearby Tryfan NW-006 a couple of weeks previously, we had a good idea of our approach route from Idwal Cottage and left the final decision as to the precise route until we were actually walking and the weather conditions were known. For some strange reason, we no longer trust forecasts!
The usual routine swung into action at 01:50z when I awoke 10 minutes ahead of the alarm. As one might expect, I was just getting back to the point of sleep when it went off! I was away from Northampton on time at 02:30z and at Paul’s QTH in Stourbridge by 03:45z. It was my turn to drive, so after the usual welcome cup of coffee and loading the car with Paul’s kit, we were on our way within 20 minutes. The roads were very clear and we made good time to arrive at the parking spot at 06:10z. This allowed us ample time for preparation for the day ahead and we set off up the mountain at 06:38z. It was a pleasant morning, cloudy down to summit level and a light breeze in the valley – more or less ideal.
We reached the temporary footbridge at Llyn Idwal and took our first major decision of the day – the route ahead. Neither Paul nor I fancied the ascent via the Devil’s Kitchen with the scree ascent up Glyder Fawr that would follow. We therefore decided to tackle the ridge route of Y Gribin which was high up to our left. The first problem was finding where the track departed from the path along the left side of the lake. It was not easy to see on the ground and we later found out that we had missed this, since it appeared that the correct route was alongside a wall. Evidently we were in good company in not finding the route as we periodically came across signs of boot marks after cutting left off the path to ascend the side of the valley. We could see a grassy patch below Y Gribin and decided to head for that, ascending via a gulley partially filled with scree, up which we carefully picked a route.
Once onto the grassy area, we met the track that we should have located down near the lake and after turning right we had a short stint of relatively easy walking to the foot of Y Gribin. The ridge is just a mass of rock and very steep. There were several potential routes in view and after some discussion we decided to head for the end of the ridge as this gained us height in the shortest distance – wrong! For some strange reason I was leading at that point (a rarity indeed!) and I soon found myself astride a rock with a sharp drop to my left and a very steep slope to my right. We had literally peaked too soon. I extricated myself from my lofty position and traversing right, we found a more commonly used track – well, rather a series of rocks showing evidence of the passage of humankind, along which we made our way and eventually we once more started to gain height. The route increasingly became a rock climb rather than a scramble. We were soon using full rock climbing techniques – definitely 3 points on the rock surface at all times. In places, a step backwards would have meant a very quick 100 metre descent. Needless to say, I do not recommend this route for anyone who does not have rock climbing experience. The route is apparently graded 1 / 2. Taking each stage carefully took time, but safety was paramount and I must to admit to feeling a certain amount of relief when the route eventually flattened out and became a track. We were pleased not to be descending via this route, but it had been tremendous fun!
Once we attained the summit of Glyder Fawr we found that there were three rocky outcrops to provide us with some shelter from the cold wind that was now blowing. The weather was still generally cloudy with the wind increasing during our ascent – this was almost ideal while we were walking, but quite chilling once static. Paul took the highest outcrop and found a convenient rock to sit on while I chose another one that had the basis of a stone shelter on one side, fortunately on the side away from the wind. As we set up the cloudbase descended and the summit became quite damp.
Paul had taken his short pole for the activation and chose to hold this while operating. Putting a few calls out on his alerted frequency at 09:45z, he had no response. A call on 144.300MHz however brought back Dave G0ELJ who was just slightly quicker than Frank G3RMD on the call. Dave spotted Paul which provided a reasonable run for a weekday – 13 contacts in all. Signals were quite strong, though with pronounced QSB. Paul was particularly pleased to have a contact with Carolyn G6WRW in Kidderminster as the path was not an easy one. By 10:25z Paul had no more takers and decided to pack the kit up as he was starting to get chilled at his rather exposed position.
With the success of 70cms on Tryfan NW-006 two weeks earlier, I decided to let the band stand on its own two feet this time around and so went for it from the off. Mike G4BLH was first into the log. He was using an FT-817 into a Moxon antenna – signals were 59 both ways! This forbode well for an attempt on 23cms, for which Mike had set up a 35 element yagi on a temporary pole in the garden. With 1 watt output, he was 56 and raising the power to 10 watts produced a 59 signal with me. My 280mW to the quadruple quad received a 54 report from Mike. Back on 70cms, things were a bit slow to get going, but I managed to work 6 regulars in all. Frank G3RMD and Phil G4OBK were worked initially on CW and later on SSB. Graham G3OHC and Don G0RQL were worked on SSB and John GW4BVE came on to provide me with a contact. At around 10:30z, I decided there was no-one else to work on 70cms, so I dropped the pole and put up the HF dipole. After a couple of calls on 10.118MHz, John G4WSX answered which was quite a surprise. Roland SM1CXE followed and then there was a pause in the action while the spot placed by John took effect. From 10:45z, a steady flow of calls came in until at 11:00z someone decided that I was using their frequency and plonked a huge carrier on top of me. I could detect people still calling me, but it was not possible to make out calls, so reluctantly I went QRT. Apologies to anyone that missed out, especially as for once there were 10 chaser points on offer!
It didn’t take me long to pack up the kit and we started our descent in the direction of Y Garn NW-004 at 11:12z. I was taking my lunch “on the hoof” and after eating a snack bar, I took a bottle of Lucozade out of my pocket and opened it…… champagne fizz or what? Now I know what it’s like on the podium after an F1 race! Fortunately, I was able to wash my hands and jacket sleeves in a stream a little later on as we approached the small lake known as Llyn y Cwn approximately mid-way between the summits. Our descent was down the horrible scree slope that we had avoided on our ascent. It was not a very pleasant task descending, but we came to the conclusion that it was far easier than an ascent would have been. Thereafter the route was very straight forward from Llyn y Cwn and we reached the rocky outcrop at the summit of Y Garn by 12:30z.
After a quick chat with a very pleasant lady who was sitting in the small summit shelter, we set up nearby in similar fashion to our previous summit. Paul was very quickly off the mark with Frank G3RMD first in the log and the one to provide the spot at 12:51z. The run took in most of the people that had been worked earlier, plus a few more to make a total of 17 contacts. This included an S2S with Rob GD4RQJ/P. Signals were very similar to earlier in the day, with some QSB in evidence on the signals of those farther away. Paul finished his activation at around 13:45z.
On 70cms, I was very slow off the mark and it was not until 13:03z that I worked Frank G3RMD on CW for my first contact. This was a difficult path directly over the summit of Glyder Fawr. Frank kindly spotted me and contacts then started to be made. I again worked Mike G4BLH, this time with reduced signal strengths. However, we made it okay on 23cms and to add a bonus to the operation, John MW1FGQ called me straight afterwards with signals 58 out / 53 in. I worked another 3 people back on 70cms and then put up the HF dipole. After a couple of CQs, I was called by Norman GM4KGK in Stornoway. After a pleasant chat, no further contacts were made on the band despite almost 15 minutes of CQ calls on 10.118MHz. I guess the frequency is not monitored in the same manner as 7.032MHz and in hindsight I should have self-spotted.
I started to pack away at 14:15z and we were making our descent by 14:24. We had decided before the activation to descend via the route off the north end of the summit that veers around to the north-east and back to Idwal Cottage. It appears that you are literally going to walk of the end of the mountain, but the gradient is not that bad when you get there. Again great care had to be taken as it was steep, but it was certainly no worse than the descent from Glyder Fawr had been. Fortunately it was only slightly damp under foot and we had no problems getting down. Eventually this route took us almost to Llyn Idwal where we cut left down to the parking spot on a more direct route which brought us into a narrow gorge and effectively made a complete circular tour. We were at the car by 15:48z.
After getting back into “civvies”, we had a snack before leaving the parking spot at 16:15z. The A5 was running quite slowly with quite a bit of traffic out to Llangollen – how much easier it was coming the other way first thing in the morning! We reached Stourbridge at 18:45z and after a short rest and a coffee, I set off home to arrive there at 20:46z. All in all it had been another very satisfying day and a productive one with another 18 activation points gained.
Many thanks to everyone that came on to work us, particularly as it was a weekday and contacts, particularly on 70cms SSB would not be easy to find were it not for the dedication of the chasers that follow us around the summits. Thanks to G0ELJ, G4BLH, G4OBK, G4WSX and G3RMD for the spots. Our next visit to Snowdonia will be later in the summer as we start to work towards completion of the NW area which we hope to achieve sometime next year.
73, Gerald G4OIG
Distance walked – 9.5km. Time taken - 5 hrs 32 mins. Total ascent - 924m
Mileage drive - total 382miles (672km). Time taken - 7 hrs 6 mins
Glyder Fawr NW-003
GW4MD/P 2m SSB – 13
GW4OIG/P 70cms SSB – 6, 70cms CW – 2 (repeated on SSB), 23cms FM – 1,
30m CW – 14
Y Garn NW-004
GW4MD/P 2m SSB – 17
GW4OIG/P 70cms SSB – 6, 70cms CW – 1, 23cms FM – 2, 30m CW - 1