Chno Dearg GM/WS-032 and Stob Coire Sgriodain

Escaping the East Coast clouds and rain

With a few days off this week and nothing planned, Mo and I decided to head west and climb some hills in the Laggan area. We drive this road a few times a year, but never seem to have time to stop and climb the hills!

Chno Dearg is a SOTA summit and Munro. Stob Coire Sgriodain is a Munro. These two are usually climbed as a loop, which is what we planned to do, given that Stob Coire Sgriodain is a much more shapely mountain, with better views.

The weather forecast was for cloud clearing by lunchtime, so we opted for Chno Dearg first, saving the best views for later on.

0715z saw us depart the car park at Fersit, heading through the Estate cottages and eventually up onto the grassy, heathery hillside, following tracks made by an Argocat.

the initial estate track

The climb was tedious. A steady angle, over damp and soft ground. Energy sapping and with no end in sight.

clouds clearing to the west

clouds clearing to the east

Peat hags were followed by a steeper section of rough rocks and these led abruptly to the flat summit. It had taken us just under 3 hours. 1015z.

I set up station, using the 7m pole, inverted V for 40/80m and the KX2. There was decent 4G, and a plenty of space on 40m and I was good to go by 1025z.

Band conditions aren’t great just now, so I was pleased to work G4IVV, PA1BR and G4OBK in a matter of minutes. Then it died. I was fearful that this would be a repeat of my last activation on Morrone, so I re-spotted myself on 2m (but left a comment that I was still listening on 7.0875MHz). I felt that 2m (handheld) was worth a try as it was a Sunday. Nope. Dead.

Then G0FEX called me, having seen the comment on my spot. Things got better and I worked GORQL, 2E0AGB then heard a S2S call. It was very weak and I thought I’d got it right, but I copied 2W1PIP/p on GW/NW-047. On getting back down and checking, I could see it was 2W1PJE/p that activated that summit today, so no go.

Anyway I finished off the activation with QSOs with MW0GWG and 2E0FEH. So, 8 stations in all, in around 15 minutes. Not too bad considering the band conditions today.

attempting 2m

It was compass work that got us off the summit in the correct SW direction, surprising two young red deer stags as we descended.

The cloud was slowly drifting across the bealach (col) and Stob Coire Sgriodain seemed to be clearing.

Before climbing, we had to cross some bog

The ascent was a little more interesting than that of Chno Dearg. Little rocky bumps, paths in places, narrowing ridge and then we popped out on to the summit, one that should have had stunning views over much the West Highlands. Only, it had started raining. The cloud hadn’t closed us off completely, however.

looking south down Loch Trieg

Descending - initially along the ridge, often on bare slabs, not losing much altitude along the way, fairly pleasant, despite the rain and not much visibility.

Then…dropping through outcrops, around crags over tussock and repeat for about 500m vertical. Not pleasant. Oh, and it was all wet. Really wet.

the descent

one for the botanists

happy heather

It was pretty much pathless heather, rocks, knee deep grass all the way back to the Estate track.

I suspect most folk only come here once. Except Robin @GM7PKT. He’s activated it 10 times. Hats off Sir.

Ascent 3h.
Summit time 30 mins.
Time to 2nd summit 1 hr 45 mins
Descent from 2nd summit 2 hr 15 mins
Total ascent 950m
Total distance 9 miles/ 14.5km
Total time 7 hours 30 mins

First day of our holiday and out boots and gear are all soaked. Standard for the West Highlands.

Escaping from the endless east coast cloud took us over to west highland cloud, rain and midges. Never mind, Creag Meagaidh (GM/CS-002) tomorrow. At least that one has a path!

Thank You Chasers. Great work, All of you.

73, Fraser

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I could just about copy you, Fraser, but you were being devastated by a station about 1.5 kHz away so I didn’t call.

That’s a pity Brian. I couldn’t hear anything either side of me. I received decent signal reports too.

Oh well, that would be HF, particularly at this time.

Hi Fraser, thanks for your activation report and great photos.

73 de Geoff vk3sq

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Funny thing band conditions, you were a good signal with no QSB in East Anglia this time (probably the best I’ve heard you recently), but I couldn’t hear Alan when you worked him - usually he’s quite strong here.

I was operating my usual ‘garden2summit’ portable setup with linked dipole and 10w to do a bit of Sunday morning chasing. Without any local hills I’m trying to work out a few noobie mistakes before hitting the hills again. This time I learnt:

  • my sit mat wicks moisture
  • I need to buy some ‘rite-in-the-rain’ notebooks
  • some form of small tarp for shelter wouldn’t be a bad idea

Thanks for the nice write-up Fraser,
73, Jonathan


Thanks for the contact Fraser, shame the conditions were so bad for you, nice photos too.
Best 73


Recently I’ve been getting decent signal reports, despite the conditions and just running 10-12 watts from the KX2. I have found other stations difficult to copy, particularly S2S ops in Wales, yet they seem to hear me OK.

As for kit. I have sections of a foil backed camping mat for sit mats. £5 from Tesco. They don’t seem to wick.

I use Limitless Equipment tactical storm pads. They’ll encourage you to do lots of activations, even if it’s only to lighten the pad as you tear the used pages out. They’re a decent size too, which helps with my left handed scribblings.

There are various shelters used by Activators, from bothy bags to tarps, beach shelters and even tents. Everyone will have their own idea of what works best! Personally I like to hunker down behind the summit cairn, although that’s not much use in the rain.

Cheers, Fraser

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