My wife suggested earlier in the week that I should go walking at the weekend to try out my Christmas presents (most to myself! ). I have done Helvellyn twice before, the last time being in 2005 and it scores highly on my favourites list. I looked at the weather forecast and the forecast was for very cold, dry and sunny weather - a plan was forming!
I left home at 0640 and was surprised to see that the car wasn’t frosted up at all. The journey to the Swirls car park at Thirlmere was uneventful, with very little traffic on the road. The only problem being that the washer jets froze on the car, with lots of wet grime on the roads, this wasn’t good!
I used the ‘tourist’ route from the Swirls car park over the footbridges and along the mostly paved permissive path. The path was frozen over quite severely in several places.
Mid way up the path I saw a hot air balloon flying over Thirlmere, what a lovely sight! http://www.flickr.com/photos/24901892@N03/3166457052
After a couple of near horizontal incidents, I hit the summit at about 11am. It was very cold at the summit, so out come one of my Chrsitmas presents - my duvet jacket. There was a breeze at top and I was told by the Helvellyn’s official weatherman, that he was measuring the windchill at -15.9C! My jacket performed brilliantly.
Firstly I ate my lunch at the summit shelter, accompanied by a cheeky Robin and a few dogs cleaning up crumbs! http://www.flickr.com/photos/24901892@N03/3166457068 Next my task was to qualify the summit on 2FM. I moved away from the shelter to leave the other diners in peace.
I managed to find a collection of small rocks on the flat plateau between the summit cairn and trig point. I sat myself down on the ground and used a few of the rocks to wedge my SOTABeams rucksack special antenna upright. http://www.flickr.com/photos/24901892@N03/3166457058
At first, contacts were hard to come by. I waited patiently for 15 minutes to work GW0EWN/p on Snowdon G/NW001, eventually exchanging 59+ reports both ways. A kind chaser then spotted me on SOTAWATCH, and bang, it was like someone had turned on a pileup!
I operated for 1hour 26 minutes, which looking back I think is impressive considering just how cold it was! Apologies to Linda 2W1FKA/p on G/NW053, my battery ran out mid-QSO, but we did manage to exchange reports and locations, so it was a good contact. It’s a long time since I’ve used a whole battery on an activation! A number of chasers commented on the wind noise on my transmissions and I apologize for that, next time I’ll remember to take my umbrella for shelter!
The descent was a little more exciting than the ascent, with a few ‘horizontal moments’! I wish I could have done what some other mountaineers were doing and paraglided back down to the car park!http://www.flickr.com/photos/24901892@N03/3166457064
In all it was a brilliant mountain day, having lots of radio contacts, watching a hot air balloon for an hour or so floating around the mountains, seeing someone jump off the mountain with nothing more than a large kite strapped to their back, befriending a Robin -who followed me down for a fair while and the icing on the cake - the beautiful views from the summit!
In total I had 26 QSOs including 4 Summit to Summits(GW0EWN/p on G/NW001, GW4DDL/p on G/NW053, 2W1FKA/p also on G/NW053 and M1YAM/p on G/NP008).
73 and happy new year to all,