The first Tinto-fest took place today. This saw 2 Mountain Goats, a Polar Bear and sundry others activate Soctland’s most activated SOTA summit for a 4 way activator extravaganza!
Or to be a bit more serious… tomorrow is the Magnum Rally. This is one of the few remaining rallies that still takes place North of the border. There’s a SOTA stand there and Barry GM4TOE, Jack GM4COX and myself will be manning the stand. With Barry having come down from above the snow line in Tomintoul for the weekend he decided he was going to visit Tinto and see what the fuss was all about. So me and Jack decided we’d accompany him and give him a hand in case he got lost on the deserted ground that Tinto stands on.
Tinto is a nice walk but it’s oh so popular. Arriving in the main car park around 11.50am I was lucky to get a space as someone left. But the hill was quiet for a Saturday with only 27 cars parked in the car park and on the road. A stream of wee brightly coloured ants could be seen stretching up the path. The WX was mainly overcast but the cloud base looked to be about 1000m. There were some nice patches of blue sky so I took my sunglasses. Silly boy. That caused the sun to hide. The only real problem was the wind. It was a fair old stiff breeze and it was properly baltic. Seriously cold.
I set off up the path, past the singing fence and up. For once it wasn’t drizzling, snowing, blowing a houlie which is the normal Tinto weather. The path was very dry, even the wet boggy bits were dry. Much like the white bits in Eric Olthwaite’s mother’s black puddings which were black! I’ve never seen the path so dry. Anyway the more I climbed the more the wind blew and the colder it got. Halfway a bloke asked me about the pole in my bag so I told him (nicely) what was going on. He went on to say that there was another bloke about 10mins ahead of me. So I knew either Jack or Barry would be at the top when I got there. I just bimbled on along the excellent paths until I was at the humungous cairn which sits atop Tinto taking about 1hr 5mins from locking the car.
Barry and his son Alastair were hiding round the back trying to get out of the wind. Did I mention the wind? It was diabolically cold at fierce at the top. A proper Arctic blast. Barry had rigged his survival bag on the fence as a windbreak and was setting up his link dipole. Jack was hiding in his all weather 20m vertical and windbreak setup working assorted Europeans on phone.
Now I like to think I’m quite clever at rigging gear but Jack is simply in a league of his own, so far in advance of normal people it’s scary. The 20m antenna and shelter consists of an aluminium stake and fishing pole, the stake holding the pole vertical. A back guy holds the pole against the wind. The radiator goes up the pole and attaches about 1m AGL to the radials and feeder. A tarpaulin provides effective wind shelter and a few tent pegs anchor it in place. A fine porta-shack! It all collapses to almost nothing with the aluminium stake being stored inside the fishing pole. That are many more clever touches to make setup and take down easy. And it worked really well too!
With Jack away Barry went on to 60m to start. I was happy to leave my gear in the bag and just grab 4 contacts on Barry’s setup. 60m was dire though. We worked Allan MM1BJP on SS-066, in fact all 3 of us did. We had to hop about to find a clear frequency as there were some French pirates making 5.3715 hard work. Conditions were pants. Brian G4ZRP was heard calling in but lost in the QSB. I worked 4 and Barry continued on on 60m for a while. He tried on 40m but conditions there were hopeless too. Jack had no troubles on 20m.
Jack’s wife, Anne GM4UXX, wandered up to find out what we were up to and also bagged 4 contacts on 20m. However, she refused to stay as it was now even colder and windier. With the overall propagation being down right naff and with the sun hinding and the wind being perishingly cold, we decided that as we had qualified the hill 4 times we could declare Tinto-fest over and get down into the warm!
Ann left first whilst everyone packed up. I walked down with Barry and Alastair back to the car park. Jack had taken my scenic route up from near Dungavel Hill and thence to Lochylock Hill and alogn the ridge. We left him to walk out with the wind on his back. We had to walk down into the searing icy blasts. Only when we were back nearer the singing fence did I start to warm up. Of course the sun was out by now too.
So not a bad quick walk for a Saturday afternoon. It would have been nice if it had not been below zero with the windchill but you can’t have everything. We did activate the hill 4 times to give away some points and it was nice to have a chin wag and walk with such pleasant company.
Distance walked: 7.2km, total ascent: 480m
Andy (Polar Bear #189)