The UHF Mountain Goat GW/SW-002 Activation on 2 April 2017
I started to add 70cm to my 2m activations in March 2014 as I was getting bored with waiting for Rod, M0JLA to finish on HF. The VX-7R will switch from 2m fm to 70cm fm by the flick of a switch and the Sotabeam dipole seemed to work even better on 70cm than on 2m so it was a no-brainer (or so it seemed). However I needed to activate these summits to get the points and this meant getting some replies and a minimum of 4 call signs – hence it wasn’t very long before Rod was waiting for me!! Three years later I did my sums again and contacted Andy MM0FMF to check that I really was very close to 1000 points on UHF (don’t take any notice of the scores shown on the database as they record the points accrued on activations when at least one 70cm contact was made and don’t check that you had 4 70cm contacts on that day). The great white chief agreed that only 7 more points were needed so the top of the Black Mountains -Waun Fach, GW/SW-002 (8 pts) was the obvious target but before attempting thisI visited 2 or 3 smaller summits to get a few more points and also to try and regain some fitness after an enforced layoff.
The forecast for 2 April was very fine so the adverts went out (thank you Sotawatch – when do I get the bill?) and we drove to Talgarth and then on a back road beside the church to commonland at Rhos Fach (SO188333) where parking is easy.
The bridle path makes a long steady ascent up the NW scarp of the Black Mountains and the path had been improved
– or rather was being improved as we were walking, as we passed many white bags of stones and then found 2 lads hard at work with shovels and a wheelbarrow.
They were making a very good job of the steep part of the path and the only problems were some soggy patches once we were onto the long SE walk towards the summit. However these soon ceased and we walked along checking on the progress of the gliders which were launched on by plane from the nearby airfield. Just before the gradient increases for the final push to the summit the new path was joined and we sauntered (rather than floundering) through the peat bogs and up to the flat summit.
My radio was tuned to 145.500 and had been quiet until a few steps before the top when the CQ SOTA calls came in from EI/ON4TA/P on Tonelagee in the Wicklow Mountains. This was a shock as we thought we would need a beam to hear Phil rather than on the handy with stick aerial! He even heard my reply as long as walked towards the west to take advantage of the takeoff in that direction. That was the first S2S of the day on 2m fm and Phil agreed that we’d try 70cm later but this we never managed – probably because we were both so busy getting other contacts, many of them S2S! This was quickly followed by GW4VPX (Allan on GW/SW-003, 70cm/2m), MW6LPU (Lee on GW/SW-023, 70cm/2m), G6GGP (Paul on G/CE-002, 70cm) so the call went out for the vital fourth 70cm contact …and G4WTF (Ian in Hereford) came in and gave me the vital 8 points. Many thanks Ian and a just reward for the many times you have gone into the garden to put up a suitable aerial or gone rushing inside to get the extra power to ensure a vital contact. Without such help from chasers I would never have reached this total. However I was not allowed a rest as the S2S continued to arrive on 70cm GW4AZS (Adrian on GW/MW-001), G0LGS (Stewart on G/CE-001), 2E0EFK (Tom on G/WB-021, his FIRST activation. Well done Tom and I hope you don’t think the sun always beats down and S2S will be pouring into your radio. It isn’t always quite like that!) and G7HEM (Mike on G/WB-12). Out of the 22 contacts on 70cm (I think that is a record for me), 7 were S2S and the others ranged from Wolverhampton, Churchdown near Gloucester, Birmingham, Gotherington, Llandrindod Wells, Cannock Chase to 8m NE of Coventry. I think I gave the 70cm airwaves quite a bashing to celebrate my mountain goat. Some of the 10 2m contacts were duplicates but also included Merthyr Tydfil and EI9GLB (Jim in Dublin) just as it was a very poor contact. Thank you everyone for the marvellous response to my calls and for making it a great day. After the first couple of calls I was using the dipole but M0JLA managed all the S2S just with the handy and the stick aerial. I must admit the promised 70cm beam was never erected as it didn’t really seem to be necessary – but it got an airing later…
After 45 minutes we packed up the kit and started the walk back
and could see how much work had been done by the path builders while we had been ‘playing radio’.
They had each emptied 6 bags and were hoping to do 3 more before packing up – despite the stream of walkers, including many DofE groups which had walked through their ‘building site’.
As the sun was still shining we decided to go to a nearby 1 point hill which as lovely views of the whole Brecon Beacon range and requires almost no walking! Hence we were calling on The Begwns GW/MW-025 at 1547 and immediately found GW7HEM, Mike on G/WB-015 his 3rd hill of the day with one more to go! We couldn’t make contact on 70cm but I talked to 7 people on 70cm mainly in the Gloucester/Cheltenham area but also Hereford and just north of Cardiff. Then out came the promised 70cm beam and I called and called and nothing was heard until I found a conversation between two people near Tewkesbury who were kind enough to let me prove that the beam actually worked – before I packed it all away again.
By the way, in case you are wondering, I am not hiding from the police (or even a member of the Mafia) but it was very bright (the shades and hat) and also very cold in the wind (the scarf and mitts) and I like to keep warm!
I won’t be giving up on 70cm as I have found it fascinating to compare the signal reports with those given for 2m and it is not that unusual for the 70cm to come out top. I hope I have shown that it is possible to make contacts on this band but I don’t want it to get too popular or I won’t be able to find a space when I look for one! Thanks very much everybody, chasers and activators, for your help and for the grand party on UHF Mountain Goat day’