Sorry to hear you didn’t qualify the hill. I was listening this morning on both 145.500 FM & 5.3985 SSB & at various times had a station opening the squelch but unreadable on 2m & hearing someone answering a station on 60m that they couldn’t quite make out (I heard nothing here in Blackburn), I wonder if either of those were you?
Brushing off the Morse key is definitely a good idea as with the RBN Hole all you need is to be heard by one of the RBN skimmers & as long as you have alerted (which you had) a spot will appear on SOTAwatch.
Self spotting by SMS will help, & although an Text may get through when data / phone will not, in many places there is no signal at all.
You shouldn’t need more power than the FT817 provides, 5 Watts is plenty, although CW will work better than SSB.
Better luck next time!
Thanks & 73,
Mark G0VOF (Currently enjoying a nice E opening on 50MHz)