It seems a while since I’ve written about any trips so here is a quick review of January 2012.
I missed out on a New Years Day walk simply due to idleness. The WX forecast wasn’t brilliant and by the time the WX decided to not rain I couldn’t be bothered to go out.
8-Jan SS-167 Black Hill:
This is one of my nearest summits, about 25mins drive. It’s a banker for when the WX is so uninspiring you don’t want to drive anywhere. It’s in the Pentlands park so the area is busy but this summit is less popular than the others. I’ve done the same route several times now as it’s a simple pleasant walk and the views can be good. Not today, low cloud and blustery but not very cold for January. About 1hr to the top and into thick mist. The peat hags are big enough to offer some shelter from the wind and they weren’t too wet at the bottom. Instead of starting on 60m and then QSYing, I started straight out, un-alerted, on 14.061+/- CW using a Buddipole clone. It was slow going to start with, not like 7.032 CW, but I worked 5 random QSOs before I was spotted by a SOTA regular and the mayhem started! Good fun. By the time I was ready to QSY the wind was much stronger and it was spotting with rain. A quick pull down of the station and back down sharpish, the mist was now down to about 200m. So a 20m CW only activation this.
15-Jan ES-012 Glas Maol:
I’m amazed but it’s 4 1/2 years since I was last up here. Then it was a very misty but quite mild August day. This time it ended up a stunningly cold misty day. I did get some views of Lochnagar before the mist closed in. The WX forecast said around -2C at the summits and not much wind. Parking at the Glenshee Ski Centre I struggled to open the door against the gusts, the car thermometer said -7C. Ha! It was painfully cold booting up so I was glad to be climbing. There was lots more snow that the webcam suggested and everything was hard frozen. Crampons and ice-axe were packed. This is an easy 8 points as you start about 640m ASL. Up the path that follows the Southern most ski tow, past the cafe, up past the next tow, over the bump, across the bealach, up the very steep trench and 500m across the plateau: job done. Except there was enough ice I had to crampon up near the cafe and I kept them until I was into the bealach. The wind was seriously refreshing. The steep path was easy though, I thought it would be fun with the ice.
The cairn/shelter was solid with snow/ice so I sat behind it out of the wind. The ground was like concrete but the cairn provided ideal support for the fishing rod in the wind. I couldn’t get the dipole ends up far from the ground though and this was noticeable on 60m. 40m CW was less of a problem. Popping up out into the wind was entertaining. A steady stream of walkers came past initially in sunshine but finally the mist closed in. Some people out cooked Richard G3CWI by having stoves running making tea and frying sausages. That’s a distracting thing to smell when you’re cold and trying to send and receive Morse.
A rough calculation suggests with the wind being strong and -7C at 640m that it was probably -20C to -24C with windchill at the summit of 1050m. It felt like it and I was pleased to get to the car and certainly had no intention of bagging something easy on the way back especially as that was 11points. Heater on max and thawing out was order of the day.
29-Jan ES-044 Cat Law:
The views should have been good from this seldom activated hill. The WX was for not much wind, 0C and cloud about 800m. Wrong. Windy, cold and cloud at 400m. This summit is in the middle of nowhere. It was a major feat of navigation to find as I got lost twice. This is unheard of with my driving. Anyway some blighters nicked my parking space too. I parked at NO295598 by the castle gates where there’s space for 3 cars just. The path is marked on the 1:50000map but there isn’t any path till N0298588. From there there is a landrover track to the summit. 1C at the car and everything was frozen. I didn’t pack the ice-axe or crampons, it’s not the type of hill that you need them. 1h20 to the top in the strong wind and dreik. Getting boring this January WX.
There was a fence which was gladly used to support the antenna. I sheltered behing one of the cairns. No chance to get the 20m/17m antenna up, it doesn’t like wire fences and needs some free space and without an ice-axe I had no way to hammer in tent pegs. They wouldn’t have stayed put anyway. 60m SSB and 40m CW this time. 40m was busy but really only Gs. I did work LA1ENA, DJ5AV and DL3HXX. And if you can’t work DJ5AV and DL3HXX then you radio is broken because they are 2 exceptionally consistent stations for me on 40m. No pileup of DL/HB9/OK/OM stations though. My antenna had about 1 mm of ice around the wires when I took it down.
Back down the same way in a much stronger wind. The mist did thin out a lot and I reckon this would be a really bonny summit in good weather. The bits I could see suggested it was a pretty place. But a fair drive out for 2points though. Still it was a unique and worth 5 today. The track made it very easy to walk so it was a good points bagging summit.
29-Jan ES-058 Meall Mor:
Sort of on the way back from ES-044. Well not really but this is such a trivially easy summit it would be rude not to activate it and claim 5 points! About 25mins to the top over easy forest tracks and moorland paths for 80% of the way. One steep bank to climb and then a mild yomp to the top. I did seem to be running late as it was 3.00pm when I summited. So 60m only. The mist came down and I sheltered in the March Dyke that marks the boundary between Perthshire and Angus. I decided I must go QRT at 3.30pm to be packed and down before it went dark. As it was, the mist made it quite dark and the sun was down in the mountains. 3.25pm the snow started just as the chasers dried up. That was it, down and out and back at the car for 4.05pm in quite heavy snow.
Nothing exciting really but still 26pts, 1 unique, 1st QSO with Wlat G3NYY, 1st 20m only activation, windchill in the -20C range, 1st use of crampons in 2012 and hopefully some happy chasers as ES-044 is quite rare. Oh, and I discovered that you shouldn’t drink 2 cans of Red Bull then listen to AC/DC’s Black Ice whilst driving home as it’s impossible to attain any kind of respectable fuel consumption and you absolutely, positively have to overtake every vehicle on the A93/A94.