G4YSS Actn G/LD1 & G/LD5 (Scafell Pike & Gt.Gable)

G4YSS Activation Report for G/LD-001 & G/LD-005, 25-November-08

Further evaluation of RCM 8.8 Ah Lithium Polymer 10C battery pack (2 x 2.2 and 1 x 4.4 Ah).
See ‘Comments’ section near end of report.

G4YSS, using SARS (Scarborough Amateur Radio Society) Club-Call: GX4BP/P. (Unaccompanied).
All times: UTC on 25-11-08.

After taking the logs from last weeks activation of Blencathra & Helvellyn (LD8 & LD3) down to Monday’s SARS meeting, it was agreed that I could hang on to GX4BP for a further week. That was fortunate because I had big plans or should I say, some big hills in mind, classics too, from which to air it.

The secretary asked how I thought I could be QRV on Scafell Pike by 09:30 the next morning when I was sitting in a meeting in Scarborough, with just 12 hours to go. The answer: A lot of luck and an alarm clock set for 02:50. ‘OK, we don’t mind if you miss the second half of the meeting; namely The Eddystone-Swann Quiz for ‘Bright Sparks’ with giant light-bulb trophy to match. I really enjoy that quiz so regretted shuffling off home for bed by 10:30pm.

The problem:
Bob (G0WHO) was right; despite a reasonable weather forecast, a challenging day lay ahead. England’s highest mountain; Scafell Pike is remote from any energy efficient start point that an ‘East Coaster’ on a day trip can reasonably reach without breaking down in tears. That leaves us with Seathwaite and a long walk in. Furthermore, the WX was predicted to be sub-zero and quite windy. Sunshine was forecast but we’d heard that funny joke last week, when both LD8 & LD3 had been clagged-in every minute Will & I had been on them.

After the successes of the previous week especially on 160m, I was determined to use QRO but this time there could be no midday return to the car for victuals and a battery change. I had combined LD1 with other summits once only in the past but just using lightweight gear. I’d also done it twice on its own with SLAB powered HF QRO and 160m included. Being saddled with a heavy pack for a not inconsiderable distance and faced with 4,300 feet of combined ascent, would be more of a challenge. With likely summit durations resulting from two multi band / mode activations, the time factor was critical (as usual) and at this time of year, the expedition would certainly have to be pushed into darkness at both ends.

Warm clothing would be the priority so water was a problem. I could only take ¾ of a litre with a limit of two sandwiches and some choc-bars for lunch. Lead-Acid was out of the question so I would be placing my trust in Li-Po. This would be the final field test for my ‘experimental’ lightweight battery; an 11V (nominal) 8.8 Ah ‘composite’ comprising of one 4.4 Ah & two 2.2 Ah Li-Po units in parallel. It was tested on Helvellyn a week before, where 75 minutes of QRO had 40% discharged it. One final question needed an answer. In supplying an IC706 Mk2G, (rated for 13.8 V +/- 15% - 11.7V min) from an 11V nominal battery, would the remaining 60% be realisable, especially in freezing conditions? Furthermore, it would need to be up to the job of providing full power on 160m at the very end of the second activation.

Heavy rain and hail beating on the window didn’t help but it was one of those nights where you lie awake waiting for the alarm to go off. I was up before it, at 02:45.

The 140 mile drive to Seathwaite took from 03:05 to 06:00 and there was a full choice of parking spaces. It was gratifying to see starlight replace driving rain, somewhere along the A66. After displaying my itinerary note and having completed the vile task of pre-hydrating on 1.3 litres of cold water, I was walking by Maglight, in a cold northerly wind at 06:20. When I almost ended up in somebody’s garden, I realised that I should have been using my headlight!

After Stockley Bridge and just before the footbridge at NY 2346 0992, the torch batteries died but by then it was just about light enough to manage without. Here could be seen the dark moody barrier to progress formed by Great End and Lingmell. With their sprinkling of snow in the dawn light, they seemed to be saying, ‘Pass here at your peril.’ I shuddered a little and averted my eyes. Next were Sty Head and the Corridor, which enabled a preliminary look at Green and Great Gable, with their crowns of wispy frozen snow. After the minor scramble at NY 2189 0852 (a kind of Hillary Step in miniature), Peirs Gill was somewhat iced up but there had been minimal flow and it was passable without the instep spikes I’d put in my pack.

After that, ice & frozen snow increased but it was rarely more than an inch or two deep and by 08:37 I was summitting LD1 into the rising sun. The sight of the large top cairn, illuminated as it was and looking like a jewelled and gold encrusted palace, was a fine sight. I noticed two poppy wreaths left over from Remembrance Day but the bronze plaque was unreadable under ice. Taking out the camera, I found that the cold had got to the batteries, which meant frozen fingers and two attempts at replacing them with AAA inside AA adaptors. Thoughts turned to the effects of cold on the rig battery. In 6 years of SOTA, I have experienced cold more severe but with a wind of 25 or 30 mph and a temperature of minus 4C, even a short time without gloves has a startling effect.

The next problem was to erect the dipole over this rocky tundra but a little respite from the wind was conveniently available on the sunny side of the cairn. It took perhaps 10 sessions of walking up and down the 40 metre long antennal before it looked anything like workable. The main problem was that the support mast and end sticks would not hold up in the frozen rocks and the mast kept falling over. The wire caught on every snow encrusted obstruction and mittens I had to be doffed again, this time to unravel a serious tangle. In all, a precious 50 minutes was squandered but before the announced QRV time of 09:30, I had an aerial with Top Band coils fitted and tuned. Sitting down on the map case with the rig in the sack, I was at last ready to go.

SCAFELL PIKE, G/LD-001, 978m, 10 pts, 08:37 to 11:27, minus 4 deg C, 25 to 30 mph wind, sunshine, 50mm of lying snow. IO84JK – NY20. IC706 2G (lightened). Link-dipole with 160m coils & 8.8 Ah Li-Po battery.

1.832 CW:
‘CQ from GX4BP/P.’ What a great response! Expecting full ‘daylight band conditions’ by this late hour and perhaps three QSO’s if I was lucky, it was a shock to hear no fewer than 14 stations lining up behind David G3RDQ (QTH Hampshire). Not only that, but one op was actually located in Belgium! I know I was using full power most of the time but it was nevertheless surprising to receive four 599 RST’s.

With this many on 160m, I began to worry about the time again, hoping that there would be fewer on 80m. By the end, Top Band had swallowed 35 minutes but that was partly my own fault. Small irritations such as time wrestling with mitten / CW key incompatibilities, the log / pencil and the biting cold coupled to the fact that I seemed to be ‘full’ of water which continually made ‘bids for freedom’ all ate up the time.

Here is a list of callsigns worked on 160 from LD1: G3RDQ, EI2CL, G4BLH, G4SSH, EI7CC, G4OWG, G4OBK, G3WPF, G0NES, GW0DSP, G0TDM, G7GQL, GX0ANT, ON4CAP & (new to me) GW3UEP

3.557 CW:
Given the great conditions on 160, I was expecting even better coverage on 3.5. This was quickly confirmed when Dan ON4ON picked up the CQ at 10:00 UTC. 80m proved its worth again for SOTA. In all, 24 chasers from G, GM, GW, EI, ON, DL & SM collected top points. Reports, with the rig set to about 30W, were mostly between 569 & 589 and the session used up only 32 minutes; quite quick for me!

3.721 SSB:
More time was needed to find a clear spot but the switch to SSB produced another 18 QSO’s starting with a line-of-sight QSO with G6LKB, Dave in Ulverston. I think the rig was left on 30W for this session. It was characterised with long lists of callsigns which I struggled to write down on the fickle logsheet. By 11:00, I was able to leave the QRG to Frank and Carolyn (G3RMD & G6WRW) and get ready to leave.

70.450 FM: A few off-chance calls on 4FM from the IC-E90 went unanswered but I hadn’t announced it and really didn’t have the time or a decent aerial anyway.

The Walk-to Great Gable:
Scafell Pike is an immensely popular mountain but despite that, for almost 3 hours I had enjoyed solitary status and was half way back to the corridor before meeting another person just prior to noon. Starting the descent at 11:27 took me close to a self imposed deadline so anxiety about the prospect of trying to find my way off the seriously rocky & iced up Great Gable in the dark, took my attention. Roy G4SSH had posted a QRV for Gable of 14:00 but could I make it in time over this slippery surface where going down would be more difficult than ascending? Some final images were secured before moving off.

Managing to pass the stretcher box at Sty Head and start the ascent of Gt.Gable by 12:46, was reasonable enough but with flagging energy levels and fitness in question, the uphill pace became little better than pathetic. In the event, a modest undertaking of some 420m of height gain and less than a mile of distance, cost me almost another hour!

Like the last, this summit was free of visitors, the sun was still shining and the wind had dropped considerably. In the absence of the threat of hypothermia, antenna preparation went much more smoothly and I was ready to send CQ 15 minutes after arriving. After tuning 3.557, I reached for the key but just then, ’Excuse me, which way is Honister Pass?’ It was a girl on her own and she was holding out a rudimentary walk guide with dotted lines depicting routes between principle summits and a few relevant start points. I felt obliged to spend 10 minutes pointing out cairn-marked routes off the top, as there was a choice of two. At least she had a compass.

GREAT GABLE, G/LD-005, 899m, 8 pts, 13:43 to 15:39. Wind <5 mph. 1 deg, dropping to minus 3C. Sunshine. IO84JL – NY21. 30mm of lying snow. IC706 2G (lightened). Link-dipole with 160m coils & 8.8Ah ‘experimental’ Li-Po (already part used on LD1).

3.557 CW:
Roy (G4SSH) was right on the ball this time. Without a phoned warning, he came straight back with a 569 report. D-Layer attenuation had been greater in the afternoon on Helvellyn a week ago but there was little sign of its effect today. The rig was set up for 40W but I could have been more frugal. A total of 20 regular chasers from G, GW, EI, F, ON, DL HB & SM collected 8 points, missing an extra two points by just one metre!

Logging the first dozen stations in as many minutes helped dispel worries about time but just when I thought I’d cracked it, the British Military arrived. After being ‘wiped out’ on Ben Nevis back in September, I thought I was due a break. However this helicopter was equally close and just as noisy as the last. It meant that I couldn’t even hear my own sidetone in hat and hood covered earphones, let alone copy incoming signals. At one stage I thought that the CW key plug had been accidentally pulled out, so I started to take the rig from the backpack to fix the problem. All I could do was to wait but it kept hovering feet above the summit’s northern edge (luckily I’d set up just south of the top) then it would fly away, only to return coming ever closer. I think chasers understand these problems but it must be galling if you’re due out at the supermarket with the XYL standing at the door.

3.726 SSB:
Again a small QSY to a clear spot was required but after Don G0RQL found the new frequency, in came 23 eager chasers. It’s nice to feel wanted and maybe that’s one of the reasons we activate. I can’t say that sweating my way up to these places, sitting around in sub-zero temperatures or fell walking in the dark provide much in the way of attractions these days. Notable in this batch were S51ZG and an S2S with Alan MM1BJP/P on SOTA GM/SS-207 Beinn Dearg, up near Callander. Also Mick 2E0HJD called in with his upgraded callsign of M0PVA to say hello but could barely hear my 50W signals in encroaching adjacent channel QRM which somewhat spoilt this session’s closing stages. However, well done to Mick in passing the full RAE.

By now things were starting to become a little unpleasant round the ‘regions.’ Somehow in all the excitement I had managed to shuffle off the map case, melting the frozen snow beneath and now feeling cold & soggy down to my calves. Such is the life of an activator and we must accept such things as the norm but getting vertical enough to fix the 160m coils in place was noticeably more difficult than had been the case in the morning.

1.832 CW:
Not knowing how the band would react is all part of the fun but requests for Top Band came in from more than one source and had been mentally noted. Actually, I was just as keen as anyone to get Gable onto this frequency having used 2FM for all but one of my previous 3-summit ‘big rounds’ which included it. Having ‘christened’ LD5 for SOTA on 26-Aug-02 and never missing a year since, it took me until 2007 to make the upgrade from 2m FM to 80m / 40m. It’s also my favourite LD mountain which I see every day as I go out. On the wall in my hall is a framed photo of it, complete with a dusting of snow just like today but evidently taken from somewhere near Glaramara.

It was an encouragement to hear a weak signal on 1.832, even before adding the coils. Sliding up 800 Hz to clear this unknown CQ call and increasing to 100W, I put out a CQ of my own. A 599 + 50 dB signal smashed its way through my receiver. I could have rectified it and recharged the battery! It was of course Phil, G4OBK who became the first SOTA chaser to work Gt.Gable on 160. Evidently, he had not worked it on any band before today. After Phil came G3RMD which I mistakenly wrote down at the time as G3ROI (same Morse elements, exhausted brain, wrong letter-breaks)! After Frank, EI2CL, G4SSH, G3RDQ, EI7CC, G0TDM, G4RQJ all called in, with finally Mike GW0DSP rounding it off.

I sincerely hope that no one else called because by then the 8.8 Ah battery had been fully depleted. After the QSO with Phil I had started to hear the ominous buzzing sound behind my TX sidetone. This is not an intended ICOM design feature but it is an effective indicator of under-voltage. When you hear this, you know the ‘end is nigh.’ You can often give chasers a warning but the only practical way to deal with it is reduce power until it catches up with you again a couple of QSO’s down the log. So that’s why I began to sound like a rude Brusque DX station, ‘599 – 73.’ Not only that, at my age after a long day I was also beginning to lose the plot; body and mind. I listened one last time, heard nothing and tried to send ‘Battery…QRT’ but the rig cut out part-way through the Q-code.

The last of a handful of people that had visited the summit had all gone down as had the temperature; quite dramatically. The sun dropped behind a distant layer of cloud in the west. Clearing up went smoothly with little snagging and the attention turned to getting down safely before dark. This involved packing the rucksack, attaching the mast to the outside, selecting the GPS route, checking the illumination which would be required later and doffing the extra summit clothing. Feeding the broadcast radio into the headphones would distract the mind from the discomfort of the retreat to Seathwaite; a walk likely to take at least 90 minutes.

70.450 FM:
There was one more thing to do before departure. Whilst passing the summit rocks, a quick call on 4m FM was answered by G6CRV. Dave reported a difficult copy with the IC-E90 with extended 2m duck, at 45. Listening briefly, there was nothing further and it was not surprising. For one thing 4m was not pre-notified and for another, Great End; some 11m superior in height to LD5, was effectively blocking the path to G4BLH in Nelson.

The original planning put the descent via Windy Gap and Aaron Slack to Sty Head Tarn. I am used to this route off Gable but know it to be a scramble in places. The snow and ice put me off a little but changing to my ascent route, which is an easy to follow stone-block walking path to the Stretcher Box at Sty Head, had much to do with being the last person off in the day. Also I had a track log for it, made hours before.

The walk back between 15:39 to 17:14 was uneventful; it just seemed to go on forever! It duly got dark well before Stockley Bridge and there was no moon. The best thing was the sight of the car and the removal of boots. The same chap who had been walking his dog at six o clock in the morning passed by again and asked where I’d been. He must have wondered why it had taken me 11 hours to walk round two summits but I really didn’t have the energy to elaborate.

This was not in the class of real ‘mega expedition’ and it doesn’t look too difficult on the map. I found it physically and mentally demanding, time being the major worry. The surface, though icy in places, was passable with a little care but the wind-chill on LD1 before and just after sunrise was worthy of respect. By the afternoon, some of the snow had melted and the wind had dropped, which made my time on Gable quite pleasant. Despite downing 1.3 litres of water before starting, carrying just 0.75 litres was a minor mistake but despite preferring not to use it, I do carry iodine just in case.

Alan M1EYP (the World’s first MG) added Kirkfell onto these two in April 2003, albeit with just a handful of 2m FM QSO’s, which was the norm back then. Pillar is addable too but one would need good fitness, more daylight, dramatically reduced summit times and a Wasdale Head start, as the four activations would involve close to 6,500 feet of ascent.

I remember doing the same walk and activations in August 2002 but foolishly adding LD2, accessed via Lord’s Rake, between LD1 and LD5. I made 12 QSO’s from LD2, only to discover that Scafell had been dropped from the SOTA list just days after it had been added. My hard-earned 28 points dissolved into just 18 but that was the day I learned not to walk too far in hot WX.

One regret is the non use of 40m CW but it’s is a band that can’t just be added at a whim without significant time available. However once again and because of the time of year, 80m showed its ability to cover Europe to some degree at least.

The 8.8 Ah Li-Po battery ‘cobbled together’ from 3 different RCM 10C - 11V nominal units (2.2 + 2.2 + 4.4 Ah) when teamed with an IC706 Mk2-G HF high-power transceiver, was truly a 2-summit success.

So that this would be a representative and fair test, no severe power economies were made. 109 QSO’s were worked with at least 30W and a goodly number at higher settings. The highest setting (in theory 100W, producing an input current demand of 20 Amps) was used for much of the difficult 160m band work on both summits. The battery performance seemed unaffected despite sub-zero conditions at 3000 feet and long summit stays.

Tests on an IC706 2G at this QTH have shown that a 100W RF output cannot be realized with the voltage available from either the above 11V Li-Po battery or using a 12V SLAB and that a current of typically 16 amps (not 20) is drawn on transmit using the highest setting. This may produce as little as 60W in real terms. Though that is not very significant in terms of ‘S’ Points produced at the chaser’s receiver, a higher Voltage battery such as a 4-cell Li-Po would be required if an activator were determined to work with a true 100W.

The IC706’s input Voltage is specified as 13.8 +/- 15%. A 4-cell (nom 14.8V) Li-Po could produce almost 17V fully charged and would be more expensive than a 3 cell. However the 1.1 Volt excess could be ‘dumped’ using high-current series diodes; a method successfully employed by Nigel G6SFP. (See 10th post at http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=2331#18151). Nigel has a method of shorting out the diodes further down the discharge curve probably in order to get the best use from all the energy stored in the battery. However, without some diodes in series and unless the Voltage is diligently monitored, the self limiting properties of the rig; i.e. the fact that it switches off when presented with an undervoltage, might not work quite so well in ‘automatically’ protecting Li-Po cells from ‘prohibited’ sub- 3V per cell discharge levels.

With these points in mind, if the 11V (3 series Cell) units do a reasonable job with a particular rig then they are the variant, which should be given consideration. Notwithstanding this, I would strongly recommend that the performance versus input voltage characteristics of radios other than the IC706 Mk2-G are thoroughly tested before a Li-Po battery purchase is made. Also the hazard risk especially when applied to the SOTA situation, needs to be properly understood and minimized.

The weight and space-saving advantages of Li-Po batteries for QRO SOTA operations have become very noticeable to me. Discharge tests at this QTH have shown that I would have required close to 4 kg of SLAB batteries to do the same job. The RCM Li-Po’s paralleled up into an 8.8 Ah 2-summit QRO pack weigh around 0.7kg and what’s more can fit beside the rig, whereas the SLABs must go under it; leaving little room for my (all important) coat!

In addition to knowing little of the longevity of this type of battery when used in high power Amateur Radio work, the downsides of Li-Po are the costs and increased potential hazards. Precautions can be taken regarding the latter but as for the cost; it is left up to the individual to balance this against the increased SOTA activating capability / decreased physical effort that this type of battery undoubtedly adds when used for long distance and / or multiple summit QRO ops. The advantages of Li-Po batteries are well documented for QRP and the FT817. A QRO rig costs a packet so why not the PSU to go with it?

Power reduction strategies on 100W rigs are a case of diminishing return. A truly scandalous amount of current is required to produce a 5W or 10W output (at efficiencies around 15%) so unless you exchange your 100 Watt’er for a dedicated QRP rig, you might just as well use it at moderate levels. Power will be saved in the long run, when stations get their RST first time around.

It was a real honour to use the 1930’s SARS clubcall of ‘G(X)4BP.’ Apologies if I sent ‘GX0….’a time or two. The plan is to return to using ‘GX0OOO’ next month. I’m told that SARS have QSL cards available and the intention is to write them at a special club meeting and send them to the Buro in the New Year. Incoming cards are not required for this.

Drive home:17:40 to 20:50. 285 miles in day.
LD1: 893 m (2930ft) of ascent including return reascent near Sty Head / 15.2 km (9.5 miles) walked.
LD5: Adds 420 m (1378ft) of ascent from Stretcher Box at Sty Head / adds 2.6km (1.6 miles) walked.
Day’s total: 1313m (4308ft) of ascent / 17.8km km (11.1 miles) walked. 18 SOTA points.

Walking time: Seathwaite to LD1: 2h-17min. LD1 to LD5: 2h-16min. LD5 to Seathwaite: 1h-35min. Tot: 6h-8min.
Summit time: LD1: 2h-50min. LD5: 1h-56min. Total: 4h-46min.
Gross (outdoor) time: 10h-54min. (16h-45min inc driving)

QSO’s: Total of 110 in the day comprising:
160m CW: 24
80m CW: 44
80m SSB: 41
70 MHz FM: 1 (IC-E90 – 5W)

IC706 2G with home-brew composite panels, wiring & breakering. CW ‘key’ in microphone.
Link Dipole for 30-40-60-80 with tuneable coils for 160 at the 40m break points. 5m CFC mast – 1m ends.
IC-E90, 4-band H/H with 1.3Ah battery with 145 Mhz normal mode helical and extension for 4m.
Two RCM 2.2Ah Li-Po’s plus one RCM 4.4Ah Li-Po all in parallel. 11V nom, 100W capable, 0.7kg. 100% depleted

QRO pack-weight: 11kg. (Li-Po) including 0.75 litre drinks.

Thanks to all stations worked and to the SMT for making it all possible. Thanks also for spotting support from Roy
G4SSH, G4OBK, G3RDQ, G4OWG, G6CRV and to Mike GW0DSP for correcting Peter’s callsign ON3WAB which I had wrongly copied. To SARS for the use of the clubcall.

73, John G4YSS (using Scarborough ARS GX4BP/P for the final time)

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John,
Great report. Tough expedition, and full marks to you for the long activation periods on both summits.
Thought we had made it ok on 160m from Gable. You were quite strong with me but we must not have completed. Next time! Thanks for a classic activation.

The mark of a brilliant activation report is when it fills the reader with raging jealousy that they themselves weren’t there that day doing that! I have done Gable once and Scafell Pike three times and really like the “proper” mountain walking they offer.

I have never done them together though, and yours is an impressive effort. Jimmy and I set off with the intention of doing them as a pair in 2007. We walked out from Honister Youth Hostel with the plan of doing LD-005, and then LD-001, then climbing back to pass between Kirk Fell LD-014 and LD-005 to walk back to Honister.

As we approached Gable and saw Kirk just standing there to the right, Scafell Pike was cancelled in favour of the much more practical candidate of Kirk Fell. Even so, no time or energy left to then do Pillar LD-006 as several others manage as a third on such an expedition. And still a long walk back to Honister from there.

750ml of water and two sandwiches struck me as wholly inadequate when I first read it! I tend to need every drop of my 1.5 litres on a full expedition like that. Food wise, it’s the usual litre of hot soup (shared with J & L) plus nutri-grains (summer), chocolate bars (winter - Double Deckers and Boosts are the best) and Kendal Mint Cake (white/brown/chocolate covered). You must have been hungry and thirsty on your drive home!

What difference do you find the QRO makes on summits? With the benefit of elevated positions, I tend to find I am usually receiving 559 to 599 reports on 80 or 40 CW with 5 watts, from all round Europe. I can understand that the QRO would make a big advantage on SSB. Is it advantageous on CW as well?

Thanks again for the enjoyable story John.


Another excellent report John and a truly magnificent activation. As Tom says, the jealousy cells were tingling, not only on the day, but also when I read the report. I heard you on 160m, but wasn’t able to get my 5w to the 40m horizontal loop back to you - don’t worry, I didn’t hang about as I had work to do. 80m was a wash out with 20dB over 9 noise all over the band.

As for your water / food ration, if you were me you would probably have taken most of it back to the car. It needs real effort for me to remember to drink and eat when activating, especially when there is no heat in the day. Perhaps I need a prompt sheet!

73 and well done!


Thank you for a superb activation day John and an equally superb activation report. Once again you have managed to take us up there with you in the mind’s eye with your graphic account of your day.

Your multi-band/multi-mode style of operation ensures that every chaser gets a shot at your summits, a big well done for that.

Wasn’t top bad in good nick? I expected to get you in the log from LD-001 but thought there would be no chance for LD-005 later in the day. It was a top band double to savour!


In reply to G4YSS:
Well John All I can say is outstanding.All the very best and cant wait for the next time.Geoff G6MZX

In reply to G4OIG:

As Tom says, the jealousy cells were tingling, not only on the day,
but also when I read the report.

You should try having a gubbed up ankle! Or there again perhaps not! Having spent a lifetime as a slob to have started doing regular exercise and then suddenly not be able to get out and play is unbearable. I’ve had to go cold turkey. So all my plans for November have been abanndoned as I rested for the whole month. Meanwhile the WX has been really good and I’ve not been able to play, just do the odd physio exercise. Reading about John’s exploits has got me eager to get out again. Hopefully something small this weekend and if that goes well something a little bigger and bonus worthy for Monday when the bonus season starts. Oh, and I see the forecast is for snow this weekend/next Monday, sounds good!

As Wallace would say to Grommit, cracking report! I’m hoping for an S2S with John this Winter.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Yes Andy, you are notable by your absence in the spots. Pleased to hear your ankle is back to being usable again. I’ll keep an eye on the spots between DIY chores this weekend to see whether you get out.

I was really surprised to see John posted for another pre winter bonus activation, but then again he can so he does. I am still trying to earn a few quid here, but if work does go belly up, then maybe I’ll be able to get out a bit more myself.

73, Gerald

In reply to ALL:

Response to ‘GX4BP/P LD-001 tomorrow post’

To G4OWG Roger: I too now have grandchild distractions. Seems though I was later than usual for doing 160 but that one day, it was early enough to do the job.

To ON3WAB Peter: You are in the LD1 log Peter but only thanks to Mike GW0DSP. He put me right when I wrote your call down wrong.

To G4OBK Phil: That’s strange. Perhaps it was the skip distance or maybe you had a few household appliances running. Tell Judy there’s to be no washing, hoovering, phoning or surfing during 160m ops. Just to be sure, shutdown the central heating and get her to stay in bed.

To Mike GW0DSP: Pulsing effect? You sometimes get that with Aurora but ??? Quite a few chasers were hearing one another but it sounds like no one was hearing all except me and I hardly ever hear a noise 160m from any summit. The ‘needle’ just sits on the stop. There’s merely a gentle hiss like an FM radio with the volume down to almost off. (Until the helicopter came along, that is!)

To G4SSH, Roy: One day you will find yourself sending that tuner off to ML & S for repair. I will feel obliged to chip-in with costs!

To EI2CL Mike: It’s about time you got a break from digging me out of the noise. Dublin seems to be noisier than many other cities for some reason. We’ll need to stick with the CW I think!

‘Activation report responses.’

To Frank G3RMD: Have no fear Frank, it was just me throwing a wobbly. Yours was the second call I got wrong in the day. The other was Peter ON3WAB. When I came to put the QSO’s into the database, I came across G3ROI in my log. Who is he I thought; must be a new chaser.

The above report along with personal & internet logs have now been corrected to include our valid 160m, LD5 QSO at 1513 UTC. In a flash of inspiration it came to me. G3RMD, which I mistakenly wrote down at the time as G3ROI, has the same Morse elements but wrong letter-breaks! Exhausted brain is to blame. So you did work Great Gable on Top Band Frank and you were no 2 after Phil.

M1EYP Tom: I know what you mean. It’s a feeling I get too and it’s usually other people’s GM activation’s that do it to me.

LD1 & LD5 are pretty rugged; a lot different to the Dales and more like GM stuff.

I have also used Honister 2 or 3 times, to do that group from. It’s still a 3 hour walk-in to Pillar for the 1st activation and I always fear that the gullies on Kirkfell will be slippery. You & Jimmy did well, even without LD5. It would have been a long day.

Yes. Could have done with more drinks even in that cold but prehydration minimised the problem. I do tend to drink too little on these most of these jaunts. I don’t starve on the way home though. Scoff scoff scoff all the way over the A66!

I would say that QRO in order of usefulness in average conditions (whatever they are) is: 160m daytime, 80m SSB, followed by 40m SSB, 80m CW, 40m CW. As you mentioned midday in summer on 80m can need brute force at times, the time period of ‘uselessness’ widening for sunspot high and longer days. That said, I very often use QRP and 75% of the time, it works better than expected. It ends up slower though because you don’t have the option of battering through to a struggling chaser in one transmission.

To G4OIG Gerald: I don’t expect you to chase me Gerald but it’s always a nice surprise when you do. If your attitude to chasing is similar to mine, ‘casual’ describes it best. In fact in my case it’s so casual to be almost non-existent. Even if I had time to chase, I would struggle to do it from here; there’s so much noise a lot of the time that most open bands have about 2 signals audible. If I were a chaser, I’d do it /M. S2S’s are different, of course. Perhaps noise is the reason I don’t get a few more European stations on 80.

It seems we are both bad for refuelling stops. I find the days so completely ‘full on’ that I need to force myself to do it. It’s not that I feel I need it but I know I might grind to a halt at some point if I don’t take the time. I never eat anything other than when also walking or activating. Every minute counts.

I sincerely hope your job keeps going Gerald. You’ve got to have the SOTA fuel for that high-class motor of yours.

GW0DSP Mike: I think offering some different bands & modes is a good way to try & keep chasers happy. However, it takes too long to leave ‘no stone unturned.’ 40m is a case in point. I feel I should be doing it more often than I am, despite getting some Europeans in the log on 80. Which ever way you ‘carve it up’ and as you will know yourself, activating is seldom going to be anything other than a compromise / balancing act. The time factor looms large in my eyes. After that it’s the WX. I could do one summit and loads of bands but it hardly seems worth driving the best part of 300 miles for. You will see I do 2FM only sometimes, when I’m trying to regroup or there’s someone with me. If one expedition is deemed a success, there’s a lot to live up to the next time, which creates a certain pressure. I will need a change soon; something a bit different one time, to release the pressure. By far the biggest problem for me is climbing the ever-increasing psychological mountain. When my very last activation comes along I really can’t tell what factor will have stopped me but it’s not certain to be physical.

Wasn’t top bad in good nick? A resounding ‘Yes, it was.’ I estimated 1 to 3 QSO’s from LD5 and was thinking that LD1 might be just the same by 9:30 am. What a nice surprise when I heard multiple stations all calling on both summits. I couldn’t read CW at the speed I sent it before. Now I have been forced to crank it up even further to try and get through the QSO’s. The QSO rates of some of the overseas experts and our own G1INK leave me flabbergasted but I do seem to do significantly better on CW than SSB.

To Geoff G6MZX: Thanks Geoff. You are so well placed for chasing NP & LD and activating them too. I’m envious!

To MM0FMF, Andy: Get well soon. We can’t have a GM activator off sick, they’re thin enough on the ground as it is. I know what you mean about not being able to get out and about having a month wiped off the calendar. What I wasn’t going to do in the cool but benign conditions of October, wasn’t worth doing. Then my Dad died and all had to change. He was 93. When he was 90, we did Rombalds Moor (NP??) together. It took forever but he had a greetings message on 2m and really enjoyed it (after he got home though- bless him.)

I look forward to that S2S but don’t overdo it when you do get out. Even your little-uns are bigger than some of our big-uns!

73 & thanks to all,

John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John,
Pleased we made it on 160 and I expect it was my slovenly CW that caused the difficulty.
I was trying out a new vertical that I have just erected, by putting a fishing pole at the top of a large tree in the garden. Total length is about 45 feet and I have been adding radials in the lawn as and when. Not sure yet if it really works yet, but you were a good signal on it from Gable. Phil, OBK, was a huge signal on it, but then— he usually is!
73 and thanks again for a very interesting activation.


In reply to G3RMD:
That sounds as if it may be quite good Frank. What an investment for LF.

Glad too that you got your QSO after the confusion. I was tired by then and ‘losing it’ a little.

Up again at 02:45 this morning. SOTA wasn’t the reason for a change. It was the Manchester Airport run. 4 ladies needed to get there safely so they innocently came with me in freezing fog and minus 2C. Their confidence far exceeded mine but with no traffic, I was there & back in 4 1/4 hrs. Possibly the next ‘early up’ will be an activation.

73, John YSS