This was to be my 100th sota activation and I wanted to cash in on some winter bonus points. Barry 2W0PXW (ex M3PXW) was keen to get out after a spell with his car off the road so we decided to do a joint activation. I had told Barry about GW/NW-034 with the access track, making it a relatively easy 4+3 points. We decided to give it a go with the possibility of one of the Horseshoe Pass pair on the way home.
I had to cancel this summit in the last couple of weeks due to very poor wx conditions, so it was like a vendetta, I wanted to crack this one.
The drive up was uneventful but as we came off Llandegla moors and skirted around the western side of Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042, the first signs of the wx that faced us showed it’s hand, with the wind picking up speed and driving rain. We turned left at Bala, onto the B4931 which lead us to the right hand fork in the road which would take us through Rhos Y Gwaliau and along the narrow lanes to the start of the track up to the summit. As we left Rhos y Gwaliau we encountered the first of the hailstones. At the start of the track we almost cancelled but Barry decided that his Renault Espace had enough ground clearance to at least drive part of the way to the summit, I have to admit, I thought he had no chance, because in parts the track had deep craters and random large rocks strewn everywhere. I have to take my hat off to the lad though, his driving skills took us to within 300-400 yards of Foel Cedig, so we parked up and made the decision to set up just one station due to the worsening weather. We took a few photos of the surrounding area and of each other (Barry needs to learn what the focus control on my camera does) then we dumped my rucksack and camera in the car and took Barry’s equipment along with my 7 metre pole and SB3 up to our operating position along side the track at Foel Cedig, which is just 1 metre below the summit.
Trying to set up in the estimated 40-45mph winds was almost comical except for the fact that it was difficult to stand up and very cold in the wind chill. I dread to think what speeds the gusts achieved. We opted to use just the dipole elements of the SB3 vertical to make four quick contacts each and qualify the summit, then we would attempt to fully assemble the beam and switch to horizontal SSB. We used Barry’s FT-857 and 17ah SLAB, with 50 watts. My initial call on 2-fm was answered by Mick 2E0HJD who was then passed straight over to Barry. We decided that we would both work each station who called in and get as many in the log as quickly as possible, not a way I like to operate but it was the best we could do in those conditions. A new and nasty threat began as large hailstones began to fall almost horizontally and pepper us, they didn’t half sting when they found a bare patch of skin on the face.
After we had both worked Mick, Mike G4BLH, then Roger MW0IDX followed and we both smiled when John GW4BVE called in and qualified the summit for both of us, another six stations followed on fm before we switched to ssb and erected the now fully assembled beam horizontally.
When fully assembled the beam had a mind of its own in the high winds so we took it in turns to try and hold it steady, this wasn’t as easy as it sounds because we couldn’t hold it with a gloved hand, so bare fist it was until we both ended up with a numb hand after a very short time.
My initial CQ on SSB brought the Brummy Mafia flooding in led by Don G0NES, Brian G8ADD and Graham G4JZF. Barry’s Dad, Arthur GW1LDY also found his way into the log, along with Phil G4OBK over in Yorkshire with a very respectable signal both ways.
Even in such bad weather conditions we both enjoyed our first 4 pointer but decided that in the interest of safety it was time to pack up ready for the walk back to the car.
It was such a strange feeling when we got ourselves back into normal clothing and comfy in the car, it felt like a centrally heated room after being out in the elements for just fifty minutes.
A surprise was to follow for Barry as I poured the soup I had prepared earlier, Bachelor’s condensed cream of mushroom, nothing exotic for Barry and I but it might as well have been a Sunday roast, it was delicious and warming.
Thanks to all of the 17stations who called in and worked the pair of us (34 contacts in 29 minutes) and thanks to 2E0HJD, G4BLH and G4OBK for the spots.
I have put some photos on Flickr now.
2E0HJD (fm) 2E0HJD (ssb), G4BLH, MW0IDX, GW4BVE, M1AVV, M0VTS, GW7AAV, 2E0FZK, M0PER, G6CRV, G0NES, G8ADD, G4JZF, M0PNN, GW1LDY, G4OBK.
73 and all the best for New Year from Mike GW0DSP and Barry 2W0PXW