G4OBK Dodd Fell G/NP-016 01-03-10

G4OBK Dodd Fell G/NP-016 1st March 2010
Unaccompanied activation of Dodd Fell Hill on 40m CW, 30m CW, 60m SSB, 2m FM on 01-03-10.

Yaesu FT-857, link dipole 30/40/60/80m on 7m fishing pole.
Yaesu VX-170 carried for backup on 2m FM (not used).
One 4S1P LiPo 5000 mAH battery, one 7 AH SLAB.
Rucksack Special half wave 2m vertical antenna
Temperature at summit 0920z: Minus 2.5c in shade, more in the sunshine.

After the previous weeks attempt to activate this “unique” I was not going to be beaten. The weather forecast on Sunday night was good so I went for it at short notice. Readers will recall the previous week when my new LiPo batteries let me down on Birks Fell NP-031 and then later on when my day was further spoiled by my car becaming stuck fast on Cam Houses Road when I had to be pulled out by my recovery company. My priority last Monday was NP-016 as this was one of the remaining nine NP summits that I hadn’t activated, so this one had to be first, with a possibility of activating NP-031 in the afternoon.

Depart Pickering 05.40z. Road conditions were fine in temperatures as low as -5c until I reached the higher ground above Buckden. There was a little residual snow around on the road from two days previous but also a fair amount of ice. It’s the usual problem of trying to keep the momentum up in a two wheel drive car so as to climb the steep hills (1 in 6) on Oughtershaw Road without going too fast and losing control on the bends! I had one hairy moment but regained control and just got up the hill without a crash. I was walking at 0747z. The distance from here to the top was 3.3 miles and it took me 93 minutes to reach the trig. I walked to Kidhow Gate where the Pennine Way comes in and I then followed the wall up the hill cutting across the snow bound moor via the shortest route to cross the wall at the corner, grid ref SD 8339 8362 which was almost at snow height due to drifting. It was a welcome sight when the trig point came into view, so welcome that I started talking to myself to confirm it as reality, after struggling through the deep snow of the isolated moor…

Dodd Fell Hill G/NP-016, 668m 2192 feet arrive 0920z depart 1126z

By this time in full sun the visibility was excellent and it was a great pleasure to be up there. I decided for the first time to activate standing up throughout, rather than try to sit on the cold snow, so the rig and key etc were set up on top of the trig point and this worked very well. Time to remove my heavier Trek-mate gloves and put on my CW gloves – a pair of Caratti fingerless cycling mitts. I rang “dial a spot Cornwall” – Roy G4SSH/A and we made a 40m CW QSO followed by fellow SSEG member Kevin G0NUP. I knew that both Carolyn GW6WRW and Paul G4MD were expected on 60m SSB around this time. I didn’t like doing it but I left the pile up on 40m howling, to work 60m SSB, and indeed this was worthwhile as I connected with Carolyn and Paul on that band for S2S QSOs with SW-008 and LD-027. “The activator is King” and it is always nice for a Chaser to get some points whilst on the summit, much to the chagrin of one F5 station I noticed on SOTAWatch when I returned home, who bemoaned my sudden departure from 40m after two contacts!

Condx on 60m were good so I reduced my power from 50w down to 15w to conserve battery power and the chasers kept me going for 40 minutes on SSB before I returned to the pile up, on 40m CW.

I had once again tried to use one of the 4S1P 14.8v LiPo batteries at the start and it again failed. I resorted to the SLAB I was carrying this time – no problem. Tests are ongoing to determine whether the problem lies with the LiPo’s or the FT-857. When I connected the LiPo at the end of the activation it worked no problem, but by then the battery was warmed by the sun and the rig was very warm due to usage.

I worked the 40m CW pile up down to nothing and then QSY’d to 30m CW to fill in any gaps by taking advantage of longer skip. There weren’t many takers here but I did work a good DX station – this was AA4SC in South Carolina, USA. My final port of call was 2m FM using 40w and the rucksack special vertical. There were very few takers again, but it was great to hear Sue’s Voice (G1OHH from Lancaster) coming back, who I usually work when I am doing WOTA in the Lake District.

Total QSO’s: 74 CW/SSB /FM
40m CW: 39
60m SSB: 25

DXCC Countries worked (18):
DL, EI, ES, F, G, GM, GW, HA, HB9, LA, OE, OM, ON, OK, PA, S5, SM, SP.

The walk back to the car took a respectable 68 minutes. The walk in on Cam Houses Road was on virgin snow, however whilst activating the farmer had been down on a tractor and had ploughed the road out. This made for an easier walk back. But I wouldn’t have risked driving down it again, lesson learnt!

I drove down to Buckden to contemplate NP-031 Birks Fell. After enjoying my Mulligatawny Soup and sandwich it was 1315z. Birks Fell above me looked formidable from the village car park. It was not “unique” to me so after some soul searching, calculation of times and my own physical condition after the long walk up NP-016 with a heavy pack, I decided to call it a day and head for home. This allowed me time to prepare and take part in the RSGB 80m Club Championship Data Contest at 2000z as part of the Travelling Wave Contest Group Entry.

Dodd Fell is a boring, featureless and boggy hill but when visited in snowfield conditions it takes on a totally different flavour. I uploaded some pictures to our Flickr SOTA Group. Next target – more of the remaining eight NP summits remaining as “uniques”.

NP-016 Dodd Fell Hill
Drove 158 miles
Walked 6.56 miles
Ascended 601 feet

Thank you to G4SSH, G0NUP and the other spotters and all those stations who were logged.

73 Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:
Hi Phil.Thanks again for a good and informative report.Pity I missed you.Just for interest when I did Dodd Fell the weather was good and i was able to drive all the way along Cam Houses Lane to the Pennine way.This is where I parked I then followed the Pennine way to a point where the trig looked to be closest to the lane on the map. From memory I think this was just past the first gate it was steep for the first 200 yards then an easy walk to the trig.All the best Geoff G6MZX