Goodness me, that was a chilly one!
Thursday 13th December 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
Not a classic night on the radio either. Conditions were generally very poor. There were occasional brief hints of openings. Some stations reported a very short-lived opening to Italy, while I heard a Finnish station calling CQ TEST on 6m CW - but very “in and out” - and also short-lived. Other stations suggested possible Sporadic E, but my hunch was meteor scatter.
The evening started with the 6m FMAC - and quite probably the last ever FMAC. Good riddance to them I say; waste of time and don’t deliver the intended (flawed) aim of attracting youngsters and new licencees into VHF contesting.
I was then surprised with the arrival of Simon G7WKX on summit. He went off to set up his 6m dipole. Despite being only 50 yards away, somewhat remarkably, he didn’t seem to cause me any QRM whatsoever. I rather suspect he got a bit more from me, especially when the SB6 was beaming right over him! In any case, Simon said he was only doing a short stint on 6m before doing the main activation on 2m.
As I say, it was a poor night, and painfully cold. Temperatures dipped down to -3 as Simon packed up and walked back over to the topograph where I was. Activity was slow on 6m SSB so we stopped and had a chat for a while, which was very enjoyable. Just as Simon was about to descend, my mast collapsed, so he kindly helped me get it in position again before he went. It was great to meet him for the first time, and hope to do so again, maybe as a joint activation.
At this point I began to shiver quite dramatically such was the cold, so I got into my bothy bag which significantly eased the discomfort, and the temperature indicated on my clock moved from -3 up to +2 over the next few minutes. Those five extra degrees afforded by the bothy bag were unbelievably welcome.
A total of 45 QSOs, all on 6m. 3 on FM, 1 on CW and 41 on SSB. Further difficulties plagued me - something jammed in the SOTA Pole and I couldn’t fully collapse it, so I had to carry it down at the length of two sections. Fortunately, that was just about short enough that it could be threaded into my car for further investigation in the morning. Then on the drive down towards the A54, I hit a big patch of ice the full width of the road and went into a spin. This only stopped when the back end of my car went into the grass bank on the right of the lane. Thankfully, I was driving very slowly due to the conditions, and the only effect on my car was a bit of mud on the bumper.