The ideal way of getting out is to join a mountaineering club. Pauline and I attended a meet of the Mercian Mountaineering Club at Ystradfellte this weekend; good company, car sharing, cheap accommodation (£5 per night at the Croydon Caving Club Hut) and a communal traditional Burns Night supper Saturday night!
I had posted SW001 Pen y Fan for Saturday 26th Jan, but the cold light of dawn was accompanied by wind playing the kazoo on an adjacent tree and a sullen spatter of rain on the window. A bacon and sausage butty brought wise council and we diverted to Fan Nedd, just a handful of miles up the road with an ascent from a high pass on the eastern and sheltered side of the hill. There was no mobile coverage so I couldn’t tell anyone of the change.
The going was rough, the hillside having been drained with diagonal cuts, and I will swear that a metre is taller than it was twenty years ago, but we reached the impressive cairn on the NE summit at 1245, only to get thoroughly shot blasted by a fierce wind as we crested. It was impossible to raise the mast on the summit, so I consulted the map and found the lower cairn was within the activation zone. The map was then torn from my grasp and was last seen heading towards Denmark at about 60 km/hr - for all I know it is still travelling!
I was able to lodge a dipole in the top of the cairn and operate from its shelter whilst Pauline started the descent. Two calls on 2m SSB brought no reply and I was in no position to hang around so I rotated the dipole to vertical, called on 2m FM and got an immediate answer from Mike 2W0MCB in Brecon. S2S contacts with Bea MW3YBW and Carolyn GW6WRW, equally windswept on Corndon Hill MW013 followed, then Geoff M3SFW/M and finally Jim 2E0CHO in Dudley, and then silence. Two more CQs went unanswered so I thankfully packed up and baled out after explaining SOTA to an interested passer-by.
Almost a smash-and-grab, and not the posted summit, so apologies to those who missed me and those I missed, but it was definately not the conditions for lingering on the summit!
A strong party from the Club did indeed do the Pen y Fan ridge that day and at times had to crawl!
Sunday saw Pauline too tired to face another hill despite improved conditions (blame it on the previous evenings wine and whiskey!) so we did the famous Waterfall walk…which was even more knackering!