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G4YSS Actn. Pen Y Ghent, G/NP-010, 04-Mar-10

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).

Intro:
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.

Execution:
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)

40m CW:
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.

80m SSB:
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.

80m CW:
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.

160m CW:
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.

4m FM:
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.

2m FM:
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.

Descent:
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.

Walking:
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.

In Conclusion:
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)

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John, I missed you on the bands I work as it was a good day for the garden, but you were 559 on Top Band here (I must get a key working!) and if you had tried phone we might have made it.

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,
Great to hear you back on the summits. Thanks for your detailed report, it was obviously enjoyable after your recent family problems.

73s de Peter G3TJE+

In reply to G4YSS:

It is excellent to have you back activating John - you have been sorely missed, even by an occasional chaser such as myself. You were on 160m by the time I found a break from work to take a listen for you, but the noise level was S9 here, so nothing heard through it. Hopefully next time.

Well done to Hazel on the ascent and especially for “surviving” 3 hours on the summit - it is always a trial for your companion when you are accompanied by a non-amateur. I can’t say that any of those that have accompanied me have been up for a second trip!

73, Gerald

In reply to G4YSS:

My apologies for not putting on an alert John, but Dial-a-Spot had moved to Cornwall for a week.

Delighted to have a QSO on 7 MHz for the first time - you are usually too close in North Yorkshire, wheras you were 599+ on an indoor six-foot vertical antenna in Cornwall.

Congratulations to Hazel on her first SOTA, but I am a little disappointed that you did not take Jack in the Ruc-Sac.

73 BCNU
Roy G4SSH/A

Sorry I missed you yesterday John (especially on 160m!) but I had a long day in Bradford on a course.
Enjoyed your report though which made up for missing you on air and I admired the tenacity of Hazel to spend 3 hours on top of Pen-y in your company. What a good choice of summit for her baptism of fire!
Reading your report has spurred me on to write up my activation of Dodd Fell NP-010 earlier this week so I will get on with that now…it’s been a busy week for me, and I haven’t as yet been able to do any more testing of the 4S1P LiPo’s or my FT-857.

73 Phil

In reply to G4YSS:

It’s a pleasure seeing you back on the hills. Although I’m not a chaser I’ve missed reading your reports and then being jealous that you’ve been out somewhere spectacular when I’ve been stuck in the office.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John.There is not much more that I can add to evrything that has been said.Always a pleasure to hear you All the best Geoff.G6MZX

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John & Hazel,
It was a great pleasure to find you out on the hills again yesterday.
I was quite surprised that we managed it on Top Band as well as 40m as darkness was many hours away.
Its been a long time since I had a SOTA contact on 1.8mhz in the log.
Looking forward to the next one.
Best 73’s, David , G3RDQ

Terrific stuff as ever John. Great to see you out activating again. Everyone was asking after you at the Nantwich rally, so hope we will see you at Blackpool.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John,
Good to hear you out and about again. Your absence had been noted.
Pleased we made it on 160m. I thought it would have been a lost cause at that time of day, so very pleased when I heard you call at a comfortable signal strength in Cheltenham. Thank you for putting 160m on, as I am aware that getting a match, with your adjustable antenna loading, is non trivial especially towards the end of a long winter activation.
Hope Hazel was not put off by your protracted activation. I look forward to working her on a SOTA summit when she obtains her own call.
73,
Frank

In reply to G4YSS:

Many thanks for the pleasent QSO John.
I am planning my “comeback” also and hoping for more s2s soon.

Vy73 and all the best
Fritz DL4FDM,HB9CSA

In reply to G4YSS:
A great pleasure to work you again, especially on a noisy 160m. 73 Mike, EI2CL

In reply to ALL:

G8ADD:
Sorry we missed you Brian. It sounds like 160m SSB has become popular in my absence. With CW ultra marginal, I think SSB would be even more of a challenge. A full size antenna would help and some real height but so hard to rig on a summit, particularly if other bands are to be done.

G4TJE:
Tnx the for QSO Peter. Yes, we enjoyed it very much but the time req’d to drive over there still ‘hurts.’ I think it is the worst thing about SOTA and I have become totally fed up with it. It has been causing dread for about 3-years now. Mental anguish. The physical bit is a lot easier for me than the psychology of it all but it is 75% better if someone goes with me. If someone could drag a lump of LD off, tow it around the N of GM and attach it to Filey Brigg, it would help me considerably! Thanks in advance.

G4OIG:
Tnx Gerald. I missed the SOTA winter but I happen to know that the WX wasn’t suitable that often this time. 160m is such a huge contrast. Very noisy in town versus totally silent on a top. You can hear a pin drop. The problem is getting your RST over even with 100W. It was cold but the sun on our backs was a real blessing, making 3-hours possible even for a non-amateur. Also, Hazel is already asking when we are going again so I must have done something right!

G4SSH:
Good working you with such good sigs on 40m Roy. Sorry I didn’t understand your question entirely. Addled brain which happens to me after about 40 QSO’s on 7032.

The choice is 2-year old Jack & a H/H or no Jack and HF QRO. The weight is equivalent but then I still need food, water and a rig. He would only cry with cold hands at the moment but it may be OK in summer or next summer. There will become a ‘gap’ where he’s too heavy to carry but neither can he walk far enough. I experienced this gap with my kids. It was between 2.5 and 5 years. After that I got them down Beast Cliff and onto 2000 footers.

G4OBK:
Sorry you missed us Phil. I realised you must have gone out for sure when we came to do Top Band! You are right; 3-hours in my company doing radio is a lot for anyone without adding snow & ice to it. The fact that Hazel has been up as far as 1700 ft in summer only twice in her 27 years made me really proud of her performance. She took the crags well too. I hope she continues in the same vein.

Tnx fer ur NP16 rprt. You are right, a bit of snow and frozen bog improves Dodd Fell a great deal even considering it can be hard trail breaking if you’re going through ‘crust.’

MM0FMF:
Andy. You have some tenacity to be a GM activator but reading my reports takes even more! No big jealousy needed this time. An NP not an NS. I wish! Beinn Eighe & Slioch are still fresh in my memory as I have only done 2 SOTAs since those in Sept 09.

G6MZX:
A pleasure to work you Geoff. Hope I can offer more points soon but the days of filling winter days with summits on HF are probably behind me for the time being at least. There may be more of the VHF; 2m & 4m and less HF. Trouble is I like putting 160 on.

G3RDQ:
Thanks David. Top Band was in better than average shape for an early afternoon at this time of year. Great to make the QSO; touch and go at 339 but OK. It’s always a relief when the fixed station gets his RST. BCNU agn sn I hope.

M1EYP:
Hi Tom and thanks for your reply. My XYL has other plans for Blackpool Rally day. I will be on my way back from Wales to Scarborough with two ladies in tow. The mere mention of stopping off at Blackpool Rally evoked a rather bad response, I can tell you! I won’t be broaching the subject again. I will miss meeting everyone but Roy & Phil are planning to be there.

G3RMD:
Tnx Frank. Easiest ever 160m QSO with you in daylight, I’d say. Matching took 2 attempts but not as bad as stumbling over rocks to achieve it. Hazel helped with QSY’s, logging on SSB and feeding the op. She has already asked about another sortie so fingers crossed.

DL4FDM:
It’s always a pleasure to hear you call in Fritz. You are such a gentleman. Yes, come back soon and we might just coordinate for an S2S; you never know. Better still come over and we’ll put an LD on together!

EI2CL:
Yes, the 160 QSO success to Dublin is always gratifying & worth the effort. Unfortunately Pete did not appear to hear the RST on this occassion. Also, John G0TDM?QRP failed to get his RST but you don’t win them all on 160m. I only started doing 160m 'cos I thought it would be impossible!

73 to all & thanks for your comments.
John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John.Where have I heard this type of thing before. The mere mention of stopping off at Blackpool Rally evoked a rather bad response, I can tell you! I won’t be broaching the subject again.All the best Geoff G6MZX