G4YSS Activation of G/NP-010 on 04-March-10.
PEN-Y-GHENT on 40m CW, 80m CW/SSB, 160m CW, 4m FM & 2m FM.
G4YSS using SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P. All times UTC on 04-03-10.
IC706-2G, adjustable dipole, 5m mast, 160m coils.
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for LF.
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 4m-band HB half-wave vertical end-fed and 7.4V, 1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery.
QRO pack: 11.5kg (25 pounds).
After a very long absence from SOTA activating which was brought on by a family crisis and zero winter bonus earned for 2009/10, a GX0OOO activation was long overdue. After showing some interest in both hill walking and amateur radio, my Daughter-in-Law Hazel agreed to accompany me on an expedition. In the absence of my son, I often found myself walking locally with Hazel and my 2-year old Grandson Jack. What came to be known as the ‘Jackpack’ (a baby carrier bought for about £30 from eBay) enabled a good simulation of a heavy HF rucksack, so I was kept in trim. Added to this the loss of 2-stones in weight due to worry further helped the situation.
This was to be my Daughter-in-Law’s very first mountain. In view of recent WX and lying snow to say nothing of Hazel’s lack of experience in these matters, the choices of summit were relatively few. A single NP seemed to suggest itself but which one? Great Shunner, Lovely Seat, Fountain’s Fell and Pen-Y-Ghent occupied places on the final shortlist with Fountain’s Fell (NP17) becoming the favourite because of its short ascent. In the event we had to drive past Pen-Y-Ghent (NP10) on the way to NP17 and had a superb view of both. The decision was easy. NP17 was totally snow-covered whilst NP10’s snow was confined to the very top. The two craggy bits on the southern aspect were free from snow and ice. Furthermore, when Hazel saw its ‘interesting shape’ Pen-Y-Ghent was her eager first choice.
There would be no leaving Scarborough at 3am followed by multiple SOTAs today! It had to be a lot more ‘civilised.’ The first job was to get Grandson Jack to the childminder’s for 07:30 then away down the bypass arriving at the honesty box (£1) near Dale Head Farm (SD 8426 7145) for 10:30. I am not used to this 102 mile journey taking three hours in the small hours but unaccustomed heavy traffic around York and Harrogate ensured maximum delay across rush hour.
We booted up & set off walking for Pen-Y-Ghent in bright sunshine and no wind at 10:50 arriving at the summit by 11:57. The ascent was leisurely and the views, photographed often, were delightful; Ingleborough and Whernside with their snowy mantles being especially attractive. Wild Boar and Baugh Fell’s could also be seen. Despite being new to this activity, Hazel had little trouble with the awkward rocky scarps which in certain ground conditions (e.g. verglass) can stand as an impediment to summit access. There were just a handful of people at the trig point and a quiet activating area was found just SW of it. It was great to have some help with the dipole on this occasion. A message had been left on Roy’s phone (G4SSH) in the hope that he might alert the upcoming activation.
PEN-Y-GHENT, G/NP-010, 694m (2,277ft), 4pts, 11:57 to 15:00. Minus 1 Deg.C, less than 2 mph wind. Bright sunshine & excellent viz. There was much snow by the wall but grass stuck through the snow covering elsewhere. (LOC: IO84VD – WAB: SD87)
First up in response to a CQ on 7.032.6 was F6ACV. After that a significant pile-up developed putting my rusty CW skills to a severe test. In order to get through stations as quickly as possible, I have to set my keyer to 22 WPM. The problem is I can’t read CW very well at that speed; only callsigns and reports. After a good start, I gradually became more fatigued and addled with calls one on top of the other making matters worse. On the plus side chasers were coming in from all over Europe as follows: F, DL, I, G, OM, OK, PA, SP, OE, HA, HB, GI, S51, ON & EI. Power was around 20W throughout and almost all callers were coming in 599.
Getting reacquainted with so many old friends was a real pleasure but after QSOs with 43 of them I could barely read my own callsign! Also, the discomfort of sitting became unbearable so when the frequency finally dried up I needed no second invitation to move on. Roy G4SSH/A (Fowie) did work me during this session but others were conspicuous by their absence. It’s always a pleasure to work Fritz DL4FDM. Nine out of the 43 QSOs worked in 60 minutes, were with farther afield (or line-of-sight) UK stations. Nonetheless, I thought it only fair to move down to 80m for more local coverage. For the moment, I’d had my fill of CW. Beside which, after calling her Mum on the phone, taking photos, videoing my antics on 40m and reading from ‘The Great Escape’ Hazel was keen to get involved with the logging; something she couldn’t do with CW.
A move to 3.724 brought in 8 UK stations plus Mike EI2CL and thanks to my helper the log suddenly got a whole lot neater. 40W did the work here. This SSB interlude took a little under half an hour but the slower pace and ‘welcome back to SOTAs’ made for a much needed reduction in stress levels.
Reg G3WPF started the 3.532 MHz session off with very strong signals but European stations were also audible in the form of DJ5AV & F6CEL with HB9AGF getting off the hook. I must say that I expected a few more than the 6 chasers on 80 SSB. Maybe CW has become even more popular in SOTA.
With noon over 2 hours behind us, there was a small chance that 160 might just barely work. It was therefore a nice surprise when Frank G3RMD came in strongly at 579 on 1832 kHz! Stronger still owing to him being much closer to NP10, was Reg G3WPF. The other two stations worked were Mike EI2CL and David G3RDQ but both struggled with my weak signal giving it 339 in both cases. Regrettably there were two ‘gotaways’ in the form of Pete EI7CC and John G0TDM/QRP. Stations were worked using 80 to 100W and despite my companion complaining of cold hands & feet at this juncture, 160m was worth the extra time spent on it. There was no time for the more difficult mode of SSB on here. Though any complaint regarding the amount of time spent hunched over a radio from the other member of my party was completely absent, I felt that I was by now pushing my luck a little.
While I finished off on 160m Hazel deployed the 4m vertical half-wave and connected its feeder to the IC-E90. ‘CQ SOTA’ on 70.450 brought an immediate and strong response from G1KLZ, Doug in Bentham. After a brief chat we moved on to 2E0UOG; Tony in Wigan. After Tony, I was relieved to get no further response. We had been on the summit for almost 3 hours now; more than enough for even the keenest bagger of first mountains. In spite of the excellent WX condx and great views, I suspect that my logger was not sorry to get moving but there was one final task to carry out on the way down.
This was done while walking off and merely in answer to a request passed over on 4m FM. Doug had asked if we could call his friend G1OHH in Lancaster. A surprised Sue answered first call on 145.500 and we QSY’d ‘up two.’ After a necessarily short QSO with Sue due to our impending exit from the activation area, in came Dave G6LKB and Mike G4BLH with whom I had a chat on the way down and Hazel exchanged greetings. G4YSS/M was used here but I will log it using GX0OOO/P rather than go to the trouble of creating a new activation in the database.
The descent took just under an hour but for once I was not pushed for time so why rush on a beautiful day like this? The car was gained by 15:58 and we were underway by 16:09.
The total distance driven was 193 miles and the picturesque 91 mile return was made via Halton Gill, Grassington, Pately Bridge and Sutton Bank, arriving Scarborough at 18:48.
Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the valued spotters: DL4FCK, G4SSH/A, G6MZX, G3RMD & G1KLZ.
Total: 67 QSO’s, comprising:
43 on 7.0-CW.
9 on 3.5-SSB.
6 on 3.5-CW.
4 on 1.8-CW
2 on 70.450-FM
3 on 145-FM
Battery utilisation: 91% discharged (8 minutes at 4.8 Amps remaining) 11V nom, 8.8 Ah Li-Po.
NP-010: 270m (886ft) ascent, 5.5 km (3.4 miles). 67 min up, 58 min down.
Summit time: 3 hours - 3 minutes.
Walking time: 2 hours - 5 minutes.
Eyeball G1IEP and his Chocolate Labrador dog.
This was a very pleasant and easy going re introduction to SOTA’ing after a long absence. My ‘new’ companion; Daughter-in-Law Hazel said she had enjoyed it a great deal and welcomed her two new experiences; namely the first 2000 footer of her life and a dabble in amateur radio which with a bit of luck she may just convert into a foundation licence. It was great to have her along and I think Pen-Y-Ghent was an appropriate choice for her. In fact on passing Fountain’s Fell on the way home we could see that the direct ‘wall route’ which we would have taken up its western flank after a little way on the PW, appeared to be deeply covered in snow particularly on the steep final section where the wall seemed to be completely covered over. That hill would have been energy sapping in its current state.
We look forward to Grandson Jack’s (compulsory) first mountain in a few years time.
BCNU SN (I hope) 73, John G4YSS.
(using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)