On Monday 24th March, well past the winter bonus period, I spotted an opportunity to activate Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012.
The forecast was dry, with a southerly wind strengthening and veering from south to east during the day, and this turned out to be accurate.
I parked at the Pistyll Rhaeadr Cafe, happy to pay 2 UK Pounds for use of car park and toilets. From there I walked up the valley towards Llyn Lluncaws, then following high ground until I was looking down onto the lake, intending to turn west and take the path up the edge of the escarpment to the ridge.
However, the southerly wind was pushing me towards the drop, and the shaded rocky path was covered in ice. Not a good combination. I chose to leave the path, and zig zag up the open hillside, joining the ridge just south of Moel
Sych at the end of a derelict fence. It was fairly heavy going through rough grass, peaty haglets, and increasing patches of snow as I climbed. The ridge was a different world, the snow lying here was crisp and frozen, and bathed in sunlight.
I was pleased to reach the small stone shelter on Cadair Berwyn, as by now the wind had increased to an icy blast making it difficult to stand upright.
A cautious experiment with the fishing pole confirmed that using the full length in this wind was out of the question, so I extended it to around 3m, supporting the 2m wire Jpole. Seven contacts ensued before it went quiet, and I moved to 12m. Some improvisation was required here, as the five eighths wave vertical was not an option. I used the same piece of wire in inverted V form, supported on the 3 metres of fishing pole, and matched with the Electraft ATU.
I managed a chance, and very welcome, S2S with M0KCB/P on G/NP-015 using SSB, followed by CW contacts with G6DTN N1EU N7UN W6UB N4EX K4DY YO2MFC AE4FZ NE4TN 9A6W W4DOW and VE1WT.
As yet Unable to self spot, I am grateful to RBNGate, which makes CW far more productive than un-spotted QRP SSB.
By the time I had packed up after a successful activation, the wind had increased further, and veered easterly. At least I wouldn’t be walking directly into it, and neither would it be pushing me towards the edge of the escarpment.
I enjoyed a slightly surreal moment walking back across the col from Cadair Berwyn to Moel Sych, as there was another hardy soul heading towards me. The strong blustery side wind made us both stagger a zigzag path through the ankle deep frozen snow, and I pictured a scene from a film starring Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris, with two drunk or exhausted comrades converging across an otherwise deserted and featureless snow field. Alas, too late to make that one! “A little breezy” he bellowed as we passed, at the lowest point of the col. “Indeed” I grinned “Lovely day, though”.
The descent was otherwise uneventful, and I enjoyed a cup of tea and a slice of chocolate cake in the cafe before moving on.
For me, Mynydd y Briw GW/NW-060 is on the way home from the Berwyns, so I called in for a quick point grab. This time, the wind was less of a problem on a lower summit (1 point rather than 8), though still noisy.
I worked G8JVM G6LUZ and M6NKP on 2m FM, plus N4EX UT7FO G4OBK NE4TN NS7P VA2SG and SP8RHP on 12m CW.
As I packed up, I noticed that the BNC connector close to the 2m Jpole was loose, the (crimped) braid connection having failed. This could explain the unexpectedly low number of 2m contacts on these activations. It reminded me of the need to review the mechanical construction of my antennas…
A good walk, a brush with the elements, a little off-piste path finding, 9 activator points, 2 new uniques, 1 S2S contact, 2 more 12m challenge multipliers; all in all, a good day out.
A big thank you to all stations who called me, and apologies to those who didn’t get through. The antenna on 2m might account for some, and I’m sure that I missed several callers on 12m because of QRM or acoustic wind noise making copy difficult.
Oh, yes, whilst working Phil G4OBK from Mynydd y Briw, I had a photo of him in my pocket - nothing weird, though, I had just printed off a page of his blog with notes on how to get there! Thanks Phil :o)