Creag nan Gabhar GM/ES-022

A quick ascent Route, allowing an after work SOTA trip

Creag nan Gabhar is an 834m Corbett which sits on the eastern side of the A93 Glenshee road, just south of Braemar. Mo and I had climbed it previously, using a route described in Walkhighlands. It was in January and in a whiteout. It was also a long slog over numerous humps and bumps.

Looking at the OS map for the area, it seemed possible to park further south on the A93 and follow a burn east through a glen for a km or two before heading directly up the southern slopes of the hill. The would vastly reduce the time on the hill and make for a perfect after work activity. Of course, I would be the 12th Activator and maybe some of the previous 11 had come this way too?

Walkhighlands route coming from the north
My proposed route from the south

I parked up at 1345z, had a quick change of clothes and was on my way at 1355z

Parking on the A93, with the glen visible

The OS map track is on the south side of the burn. There was also a decent track on the north side of the burn. I took this, hoping it would open up more options for ascending the hill.

I wish I hadn’t.

Soon the burn entered a ravine and I found myself on loose rocks above steep ground. OK it wasn’t the Eiger, but still enough to cause issues. Once across this section, I crossed the burn and picked up the proper path on the south side.

The correct path, taken from the incorrect path

Further up, this path crossed the burn anyway and I decided that the slopes of the hill were of a reasonable enough angle to tackle direct, so I picked my way up, linking sections of muirburn with sheep tracks and very soon found myself at a band of boulders. Crossing the boulders took me directly to the summit plateau. Surprise and delight! The ascent time was 50 minutes.


A Golden Eagle had watched every move of my ascent from the skies above. This is a good area for viewing Eagles. Mo and I have seen pairs collecting nesting materials in the neighbouring Glen Callater. I will spare you my camera phone Golden Eagle shot.

Creag nan Gabhar summit

I’d arranged via the Deeside SOTA Chat Group* to try and work Simon @GM4JXP on 2m FM and also see if he could get me on 20m groundwave or some other kind of wave, however I was a bit early, so set everything.up and put a spot on 2m.

*The chat group has just two members :slight_smile:

“Everything” included the 2m yagi connected to the FT-3d handheld and also the 40/20/15/10 EFHW arranged as a vertical with a long sloping tail. This was connected to the KX2.

I had spotted myself on 2m FM, full of optimism from my recent successes on this band but ended up furiously waving the yagi about for 20 minutes calling CQ with no success.

This is a smile, but I’m crying inside

On to HF then. 20m SSB was working well into southern Europe and I made a fistfull of contacts into mainly Spain and Italy. The SWR was a bit jumpy on the EFHW and I ocassionally had to hit the ATU button on the KX2. I like this antenna but its not 100% reliable yet. I may need to investigate the 1:49 auto transformer… The highlight on 20m was a Summit 2 Summit with @EA2DE, very faint but workable.

Summit rubbish - entirely mine

By now Simon had woken up/got home or what ever, and he was pinging me on WhatsApp. The yagi/handie were still hooked up, so I had a go at having a QSO with him. He wasn’t hearing me at all. I then re-read his message and changed my polarisation to horizontal to match his. Voila! he was 5/9 to me and I was 5/1 back. There were a few rain showers moving around at the time, so I’m not sure if they enhanced our path or made it worse. Our local favourite Munro, Lochnagar GM/ES-008 at 1156m wasn’t helping.

Lochnagar making things difficult

The final log

The fun over, I packed up and was on my way down the route of ascent 1615z, arriving back at the Landie exactly 30 minutes after leaving the top, having stumbled down the heather and using the correct path all the way back.

So, a wee mini-adventure. Nice quick route up a decent sized hill, which has great views. Good radio fun at the top and decent weather, despite it showering rain all round.

With the nights drawing in now, I’m not sure how many more of these after work SOTA sorties I will manage, but they are good fun. Mainly.



Oi, you were ahead of your alert schedule :wink: thanks, no doubt, to your fast route up.

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I took the long route from Auchallater Farm car park one very cold January. It was relatively easy though with everywhere frozen hard with some quite big patches of frozen snow. I needed my ice axe to lever rocks out of the frozen vegetation to use to hold the mast guys in place. ISTR to I got cold enough to say that’s enough at the same time I ran out of chasers.

I shudder now to think I crossed a big patch of icy snow without putting crampons on. It was coming down from Sron nan Gabhar and was grippy enough to make me attempt it without. But had I slipped I’d have been off either the East or West side and down for some way. I think everyone has done these incredibly dangerous and stupid things only to contemplate how stupid it was at a later time. Of course if you don’t fall then you’ve saved 5mins by not fitting crampons. Even Grivel Spiders or Yaxtrax would have made it much safer and they’re frowned upon for use on anything but icy pavements etc. But now, I thought just take it slow and carefully. Idiot.

You had nice weather!

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Hi Fraser, another great activation report with photos :grinning:. Congratulations and well done.

73 Geoff vk3sq

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I think I deserve decent weather after enduring the never ending winter!

Simon, I had allowed for 90 minutes, thinking it would be a steep slog through heather. It wasn’t actually all that bad. Be a good hill for you in the future. Huge AZ and patches of turf for guy pegs etc.

Sounds great. On the list for my next activation I think.

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I joked with Simon that our 2m FM QSO was sucessful due to rain scatter.

My experience of using 81MHz motorsport safety radio on forest rally stages over the years has shown me how low band VHF (4m) can be affected by weather.

We were on a stage which contoured all the way around the lower reaches a roughly conical hill. It was Ben Aigen GM/ES-069 for anyone that’s been there. All communication from the various radio marshals goes via a radio controller, who was somewhere near the top.

You basically had a situation where no one could hear any other station but everyone could hear the controller, which is often the case on Scottish stages. One of the reasons we have a controller perched somewhere high, which often means they don’t see any of the action!

Then a heavy localised rain shower moved across the stage…

We lost the controller as the shower passed over her head but the radio waves were reflecting or refracting at the edges of the shower and we could hear various stations for a minute and then lost them before starting to hear the next one. It felt that the signals were actually changing direction by 90°.

Anyway, I digress! I’m convinced this enabled our QSO around the side of Lochnagar.