I alerted for Pike o’ Blisco on Saturday 6th November. It was a glorious morning with the autumn colours of Lakeland at their finest, but there was no toilet paper or coal at the climbing hut, Low Hall Garth, so before thinking about the fells it was necessary to go shopping in Ambleside. Not the quickest of procedures when accompanied by the XYL. Having obtained the necessary (and some unnecessary!) we headed back into Little Langdale, still with plenty of debris and water on the road after the torrential rains earlier in the week. The intention was to ascend the Pike from the Three Shire Stone on Wrynose Pass via Red Tarn, but as we approached the pass there was a flurry of snow so we diverted to the NT carpark at Blea Tarn for a rethink (Wrynose Pass is NOT a friendly place in snow!) From here there is an alternate route up the Pike and a fallback summit, but here there was a little snow falling, too. As the snow flurry passed I decided that with a late start and the weather deteriorating it was more sensible to divert to Lingmoor Fell, LD-040. Accordingly I set off up the road to take the path up the ridge from Bleatarn House, faintly marked in black on OS sheet OL6. This takes you straight to the summit without difficulty.
I set up close to the cairn, with 20 watts of FM to a dipole. My first CQ was answered and I soon had a pile-up overloading the receiver. Meanwhile, I watched Crinkle Crags vanish behind a shower. As I worked my way through the pileup Pike o’ Blisco vanished and I realised that the shower was heading straight for me. As it reached me, as driving sleet, I was not to be diverted from a summit to summit which got the notebook well soaked, then I put on my cag, stuffed the rig with its cables up my jumper, turned my back to the wind and waited out the shower. After twenty minutes I was back in business, working the Chasers who had waited patiently for me. At one point I had the feeling that I was being watched, I turned my head and saw a semicircle of small children watching me intently, I don’t know if they were fascinated by their first radio nerd or their first loony, but when called away they were clearly reluctant! By the time I came to the last customer I had 26 calls in the log, and the battery voltage was falling - FM is pretty power hungry. I set aside ideas of SSB and 5 megs, packed the gear and enjoyed a thermos of Earl Grey before reluctantly leaving the summit.
One of the virtues of SOTA is that you spend quality time on the summit. You can watch the clouds change, see people pass, and you stand a better chance of wildlife encounters. As a hill walker I rarely spent more time on a summit than it took to snap a few photos and eat a Mars bar before moving on. During an activation you become more familiar with and appreciative of the summit and the views. Moving off almost becomes an effort, yet in the end the valley calls you home.
As it happened I made no more activations over the weekend, on Sunday my XYL claimed me for low level explorations, my first crossing of Slaters Bridge, and my first trip into Cathedral Quarry, and Monday morning we woke up to half an inch of snow around the hut and the hills in full winter garb, a temporary state of affairs as it quickly turned to rain. Oh, well! Roll on the next meet!