It’s nearly 11yrs since I did this summit. I was looking at the WX forecast for Sunday and Ben Vrackie looked to be where the WX would be good. The other possible was Carn na Caim GM/CS-039. Ben Vrackie won because it was more likely to yield a 13cms QSO. If I had chosen Carn na Caim I would have bumped into Martyn and Caroline M1MAJ/M3ZCB!
This is a very busy summit, I counted over 100 people on the ascent/descent or summit when I was there. There are now 2 car parks, 1 about 5mins walk from the old car park. There was space in the new car park and so I parked there. There was also space in the old car park. Both were packed when I returned. During the transfer of crud into my ruck sack ( HF dipoles, 13cms feeder, 13cms transverter, extra batteries) I managed to take my old glasses that live in the bag and leave them in the car rendering me somewhat blind when it came to using phones for spotting, hence the bad spot. I can still see the GPS just without galsses and the 817 is OK. My writing is worse than normal!
The path is impossible to lose or miss and you just follow all the other people on it. I forgot how steep this is, 600m ascent in 4km but really its 300m in 3km and 300m in the last 1km. My legs didn’t like the final ascent/descent, it’s hard work on the man made rock steps. WX was grey but dry. The report said windy and lots of windchill, in fact the windchill temp was meant to be -5C at 1000m. Well it felt like that at 841m! It was perishingly cold. T shirt + fleece + Belay jacket was not enough in the icy wind. I was cold for 2hrs. It was the cold that made me give up in the end.
Anyway, the ascent / descent is straightforward, follow the path. At the top I got out of the wind and rigged the gear so as to not block paths. Lots of people and their dogs came to find out what I was doing. Also lots of overseas visitors, Lithunania, Holland, France, Germany, Italy.
Setup was the 60/40/30 dipole to begin plus the handy on dual watch on 145.500/145.400. I’d alerted the gm13 group I would be QRV 13cms but had no messages suggesting people would be listening. I started on 60m and worked 9 on SSB. GM0EKM in Shetland was loud as was Michael EI3GYB on the Irish West Coast. Ken GM0AXY was loud but he couldn’t hear me and asked Don G0RQL to QSP to me to call him on 2m. 57/55 on the VX170 + rubber duck at 2.5W. I’d not heard any of the 13cms locals call me on 2m but did hear Jack GM4COX trying to chase someone on 2m but he couldn’t hear me. On to 40m CW and 7 worked with ODX being OH3GZ. 40m SSB had G stations and longer distance, F5JKK in Southern France, EA2CKX in Basque Country.
Danny GM6CMQ called in on 2m and we QSY’d to 13cms. Danny had his “big watts” PA in circuit so he was 59+++ and I was just 51. A few metres more height and a tweak of the antenna would have improved that but it was too windy and cold to muck about. The QSO was good and that was enough for me. Also worked Caroline MM3ZCB and Martin MM1MAJ on GM/CS-039 on 2m FM for an S2S and complete. Onto 30m to finish up and 1st was Guru EA2IF/P. Activity was OK but QSB was noticeable. I managed S2S QSOs with F/DL6CGA and then the rather splendid S2S with Gerald GM4OIG. He was only 181km away which is terribly close for 30m but we had a good QSO that was quite easy to be honest. But if anyone wants a reason why /P is worth sending this is it. I was cold and about to shutdown but heard some weak CW. I was not going to struggle as I had a load of gear to pack away and I was properly cold. I head the CW again and it ended /P so I sent ??? and heard ???OIG/P then GM4OIG/P. Now I knew he was going to Corserinne GM/SS-033 and I’ve been waiting 10 years to chase that. So we had a QSO and SS-033 was a complete as was my day.
2x Complete (GM/CS-039 and GM/SS-033)
4x EA2 chasers worked (An EA2 qualification EA2IF, EA2LU, EA2DT, EA2CKX)
So what was a bit of a journeyman activation turned into something rather good. The sun came out once I started down the hill and it was lovely and warm back at the car. Typical.
Ben Vrackie in the distance, miserable grey skies during the ascent.
Ben Vrackie in the distance, lovely warm Autumn day on the descent.
Beinn a’Glho… 3 cracking SOTA summits Carn Liath CS-029, Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain CS-009 and Carn nan Gabhar CS-003
Ben Vrackie, grey morning from Loch a’Choire
Similar view in the afternoon with the lovely blue sky.
It’s quite amazing how everything changes when the sky is blue. Still even without blue sky this was a good day’s SOTAing.