Rather than chase the NP Fun Day gang from the comfort of the home station I decided to visit my favourite local hill, Foel Fenlli NW-051, and do the chasing from there.
Left home at 1130 and was in the car park 20 minutes later, booted up and set off up the steep path on the northern side. As expected everywhere was very icy but the going was good underfoot and I arrived at the summit at 1220.
I set up the station comprising the FT817 on 5W, 7Ah SLAB, 3 ele sotabeam at 5m high on my Aldi 8m Activator pole. The great advantage of these poles is that the sections push together so that it cannot telescope inside itself like the usual poles. The disadvantage is that it is quite heavy to carry!
For 4m I had one of my military radios, Racal TRA-967 (4W) and a half wave wire dipole to fasten to the pole.
I was ready to go at 1245 and tuning round heard Phil, G4OBK/P in qso on NP-024. After a couple of calls he heard me and we exchanged 54 reports, not bad for a distance of 170km. This was both Phil’s and my best dx of the day although I also worked Geoff, G4WHA in Penrith at the same distance.
I then found a clear frequency, 145.400, called cq on S20, and Keith, G8HXE was first in the log. (Many thanks for the spot Keith)
There then followed a wonderful non-stop pile-up of 48 stations lasting until 1415 when the frequency was at last silent and I could stop for a bite to eat and a coffee!
I had set the beam pointing just east of north and did not have to move it for the entire session, so apologies to any Midlands stations who were looking for me.
I had alerted for 2m ssb also but as time was runniong short due to the longer than expected run on fm I decided to go straight onto 4m. Plus I had lugged a fairly heavy 4m rig up there so I was determined to use it!
First cq call brought in Mike, G1AJI nr. Bolton, then John, G0NAJ in Dukingfield, followed by Brian, G4ZRP on the Wirral (who I also worked on 2m) and then Harold, G3LWK nr. Southport.
I was then about to close down when I heard Gerald, G4OIG/P on NP-015 in qso so I gave him a call for a rare 4m S2S!
So, a very successful afternoon with 50 2m contacts and 5 on 4m.
11 NP summits worked, 2 SP and 1 LD scoring 51 chaser points (plus 8 points I scored before leaving home by working Gordon, GW0EWN/P on Y Garn!)
During the activation there were several showers of very powdery snow leaving a very thin coating on the ground so I decided that it might be safer to descend via the less steep southern side of the hill.
Even this path is fairly steep where it leaves the summit but levels off to follow the Offa’s Dyke path around the western side of the hill.
The path from the summit was very slippy in places, especially the grassy bits so I very gingerly made my way down to the junction with the Offa’s Dyke path.
There was a group of ‘strollers’ on that path just wearing trainers or everyday shoes but the annoying thing was that they were coping with the slippery path much better than I was!
I was slipping and sliding like a drunken ice skater and several times ended up on my backside! A possible cause I suppose is the treads on my boots clogging up with hardpacked snow and ice or the fact that I was unbalanced with carrying a fairy heavy backpack whereas they had none.
I was certainly glad to get back to the car park!
So, 2m fm is certainly alive and well, I think that it’s simply a case that many activators prefer to use other bands and modes.