I woke late this morning and seeing the bright sun, blue skies and needing some fresh air a walk on a hill was needed. The nearest hill that I have not activated this year was Titterstone Clee Hill (G/WB-004) so that is where I went.
I layered up knowing it was going to be cold on the hill as the vehicles on the drive were well iced up; it wasn’t too long before I was on my way. As I approached the Clee Hills from the Cleobury Mortimer side I could see the tops were covered in a beautiful white cloak which contrasted with the green lower parts and the still cloudless sky.
The single track road which leads to the car park below the summit of Titterstone Clee had not seen much traffic and the icy surface didn’t help with progress as I slithered to the top, I really should have taken the ‘van and not my car that has wide high-performance tyres. When I eventually got to the car park there was only one other car there. From the car park I took the longer gentle track past the disused radar mounts and set myself up near to the trig point in a little snow-hole sheltered from the slight chilling breeze.
Being an unplanned activation my Li-Po batteries were not fully charged and had been used on a previous long activation. So choosing the two (I usually carry 4) with the highest voltage (one for the rig, one for the amplifier) I started on 17m thinking I wouldn’t be on that band too long as listening before getting underway it sounded quiet. Very quickly after the spot hit the SOTA site the pile-up started and didn’t really stop for 40 minutes or so. I didn’t have any great DX even with asking Europe to standby while I called but still 58 stations made it into my log before the band started to drop away and I noticed the batteries where getting a beating from the cold.
As you may have noticed I will usually try to do at least two bands so today was going to not going to be an exception with 40m being the second band. The only problem was battery capacity. I carefully checked the 4 batteries and again chose the highest voltage units. I could have easily called it a day at that point, there were plenty of nice contacts, but it was still nice on the summit and I had not got chilled and I saw Paul GM4MD/P had been spotted on 60m; a band I can not use with my vertical.
The best way to conserve batteries is to run QRP so the amplifier was only used when absolutely necessary to get over the QRM and splatter from adjacent frequencies while I waited for Paul to find me. 23 calls made my log including Paul in Scotland before I pulled the plug with the rigs battery showing well under 11V; I really was reluctant to go. The vast majority were made with me running 2.5W well under my usual 35W. Sorry I wasn’t up to my usual standard and sorry if I missed any of you.
I hope I didn’t push my batteries to far (they will be probably OK) I will only find out when they are recharged, if they don’t get pregnant they will be fine :o)
I finish my walk by taking a longer route by dropping off the north side of the hill and then swinging anti clockwise round the summit back to the car park which was now full with people enjoying the beautiful snowy hill and clear blue skies. If I had a fully charged set of batteries I would still be there now.
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a very good new year