A Bad Day Comes Good - GM/ES-080

Carn-mon-earn on a driech day

The plan today - Simon @GM4JXP would climb Hill of Garvock GM/ES-085 and I’d do the above summit. Both 1 point Uniques for us and the summit to summit between each others hills would be Completes for us both. Simples!

Things didn’t work out as planned…

The weather forecast wasn’t the best today and there was a shower forecast at 1300. However, at 0900, when I stepped out of the car at Durris woods upper car park, it was into a steady drizzle.

My ascent was short, straightforward and all on forest roads. Which was just as well, as there was constant WhatsApp chat back and forth between Simon and me. I was in woods, but Simon was sitting in an exposed car park and feeling the full force of the wind and rain. He eventually set off on his short hike just as I was approaching my summit, some 45 minutes after setting off. We’d both agreed “quick and dirty” on 2m FM would be the order of the day. Enough people knew we were coming. We’d forget about HF. Get the point, get the summit to summit and then bale.

His story is here:
GM/ES-85 Hill of Garvock fail - a Victor Meldrew moment

The summit was grim. At least five masts adorned the plateau, their tops disappearing into the gloom. I too now felt the wind and it pushed the fine drizzle into me, quickly wetting. There was still tree cover, but small and thin, yielding no cover at all. I spied a raised stony mount behind one of the mast compounds. Closer inspection revealed a trig. Crouching down at one side with my back to the trig gave enough shelter. It would have to do. The mast went up on the opposite side, jammed in rocks and supported by a single guy, it also jammed in between rocks. The FT-857d came out last, just as I was ready to spot. I was able to shelter the radio and phone with my body. I was rigged for 2m FM.

Yay! This is going to be fun…

I had a good run on FM, getting nine in the log fairly easily. Three had been pre-warned. Simon would and should have been the fourth and qualification, but if you read his story, you’ll know why there was no sign of him. Anyway nine in the log, which is good for this part of the world.

I commented to my last caller that I might go down now, but had planned to do some 2 m SSB. He asked me to QSY to 144.300 MHz for a quick QSO. As he only had a white stick antenna, I left my yagi vertically polarised and we made the QSO.

I had to leave my shelter to re-rig. The aerial and feeder was soaking wet, although the drizzle had stopped now. Briefly. Everything still worked, so all good.

set up for SSB

I put out a couple of calls. One of my FM contacts came back for a QSO and thanked me for operating on SSB. A couple of more calls. Then a voice in the back of the box, just above the noise floor. I picked up a call sign. Holy Moly!, it was Don @G0RQL! The QSO wasn’t completed. He disappeared.

I re-spotted myself and put a message in the comments, “I can hear you Don”. Shortly after he came back and we completed. WOW! 694 km to North Devon, that’s 432 miles. I really wasn’t expecting that! Later, in an email exchange between us, Don told me that there was QRM at his end and he had asked me to QSY. I didn’t hear this, so Don held on until it was a bit quieter.

When it came time to pack up, I realised how cold I was, having been sat in the rain for an hour. I then spied the tea mug I’d carried with me and left on the trig. Still nice and warm after 4 hours. Happy Days!

Hot tea, made by Mo at 7am

I was rather happy on the way back down. The wind eased when I entered the forest plantation and I may or may not have sang a few choruses of Foo Fighters on the way down. “Done, Done and I’m on to the next one…

Eleven points left to Goat. I’m in no hurry now, having too much fun. :smile:

Fraser MM0EFI


Great effort on a truly on a horrible day of weather here. Tried hard to catch you on 2m SSB but could barely hear you, and you obviously couldn’t hear me. 432 miles to Devon but not 24 miles to my QTH. Radio, eh… :rofl: 73. Mike


I was going to wait and see if you came up on 40m, but looked at the rain radar map of Scotland, and went to dig the garden instead - looks like it wasn’t as bad as it looked to be on the radar.


Sorry Mike. You would have been off the back of my beam, through all of that metalwork behind it. I wasn’t inclined to get up and turn it, however I would have had I known you were listening.

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No problem. Work meant I couldn’t get clear to catch you in time on FM so it was a last-minute shout on SSB anyway. Glad you didn’t try to turn the beam - you might have drowned in the process…!:rofl: Catch you again soon as your MG nears. Brilliant…


Congrats Fraser, WTG!
I’m looking forward to you logging 11 more. Try to stay dry.

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I looked at the picture with the masts and thought “Wow Hill of Garvock has a load of masts just like Carn-mon-Earn!” then read the text properly. D’Oh!

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There you go, a bit of power, a yagi and a dedicated and well-equipped chaser at the other end. Amazing what can be achieved. I just wish there were more Dons around on 2m SSB.


Fred, that’s a lifetimes work on 2 m SSB. :joy:

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It actually has some cell towers and other bits and bobs. Not sure if they were there when you did it. It must be the easiest hill to climb in GM/ES.

I’ll bet, I am never to successful on VHF. Congratulations!!

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It should be mandatory to have one 2 m SSB in order to qualify a summit. :joy:


I got my Goat on 2m and 70cm so I’d vote for that suggestion Fraser. However, as roughly 90% of SOTA activity is on HF, I somehow doubt it would be popular. They just don’t know what they’re missing. Their loss, but somehow I don’t think they care. :joy:


To be fair, unless an Activator is equipped with an outdated Yaesu radio (817/847/857/897) or has splashed out £1500 on an icom ic-705, is 2 m SSB even an option?

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…and here is the activation video. I didn’t carry my camera that day but when I realised it was Don, I grabbed my phone. 1min 31 secs.


Yes, there’s plenty of inexpensive transverters (new) around and even the occasional microwave modules transverter advertised for very little. The downside is that it complicates the set up, but no more so than adding a linear amp for HF does. Most people won’t even go down that route.

I suspect the main thing against 2m SSB is the lack of confidence in achieving results added to the need for more complex kit. The KISS principle wins the day. Most operators have been brought up on HF operation. It is only the likes of former Class B licencees that have a background in VHF / UHF that are willing to give it a go.


I’ll be taking my “outdated” legs and 817 (it’s newer than my legs) up Windlestraw Law GM/SS-087 tomorrow and will try 2m ssb as well as my usual HF bands. Also on higher HF bands using @HB9EAJ multiband end fed.

Will call on 144.300 and qsy as required :wink:



Good luck Alan! Don’t think I’ll make it up a hill tomorrow. Packing the Land Rover for the Mull Rally. We’re going for a week and the radio kit is going too.

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