G4YSS Activation Report: G/LD-011, G/LD-018 & G/LD-037 on 11th March 2010.
LF: High Street / Stony Cove Pike / Little Mell Fell. LF-QRO. G4YSS using GX0OOO/P.
Accompanied by Will Hall & Jessie (Black Spaniel) .All times UTC.
Set off from Scarborough in Will’s car at 03:30 driving via the A66. A sign at the Rheged roundabout (A66 / A592) stated, ‘A592 closed between 19:00 and 07:00 at junction with A5091 for 3-weeks from 09-03-10; follow diversion.’ Were we intended to go via Keswick? Surely not! In the event we detoured via the A5091 but still encountered the road works along the edge of the Lake, south of the stated junction. They had traffic lights but were otherwise deserted and it was still only 06:20 so the threat was unfounded. I think their intention was indeed to send us via Keswick and then back north over Kirkstone Pass. This would have wasted us an hour at least. The moral: Don’t believe all you read! It is clear to me that a road should never be closed except in the most extreme circumstances. There is far too much of this going on nowadays.
Hartsop (free) car park was deserted at 06:41 but it took a while to get ready to move at 07:05. We walked up via Hayeswater Reservoir which was completely covered with thick ice, and then up skirting the NE side of The Knott after which I left Will behind in order to get the SOTA set up on time. There were ski marks along the Roman Road but the snow crust was hard enough to walk on 80% of the time. Though sunny, it was also quite windy so hat and gloves were required along here. At the summit there lay 6 inches of snow and no respite from the wind was to be had. A low dilapidated wall can shield easterly or westerly winds but today a biting wind was blowing from the north. Not only that, the snow had drifted level with it in many places, then frozen making it difficult to do much more than kick out a level sitting place. I resigned myself to some wind chill even after moving some distance south of the summit.
Will arrived to take a few photos as I was setting up but he quickly decided that he and his dog could not comfortably ‘live’ there for long and moved further south to find shelter. I suggested the wall at Thornthwaite Beacon. I was resigned to freezing but once you have decided this and have something to take your mind off the cold, the activation becomes somewhat more tenable. I have experienced far worse over the years and today at least it was sunny with magnificent views. A hot air balloon floated over mountains to the south of High Street or ‘Racecourse Hill’ as the summit should more accurately be known.
HIGH STREET, G/LD-011, 828m, 8pts. 08:55 to 10:25. minus 2 deg. C. North wind 25 mph. Average 15 cm lying snow with drifting to 40 cm. Sunny. (IO84NL, WAB: NY41) IC706-2G QRO – 8.8 Ah Li-Po No1
Coils were fitted and tuned up on the second attempt. G4OBK was waiting patiently on the 1832 KHz spot and heard my di-di-di-dah’s. After Phil it came as a surprise to hear a second lot of strong signals from Frank G3RMD in Cheltenham. He reported my 100W as a ‘no struggle’ 579. Mike EI2CL got his 559 RST in response to just 70W from my side and even Roy G4SSH called and was successful using his vertical for 80 through 6. There followed Roger G4OWG, Don G0NES and finally a long absent Geoff G4CPA making seven in all; the latter being worked at half-power. Further CQ’s went answered so it was off to 80m.
3.532 was clear with Roy G4SSH ‘jumping on’ my 20 Watt QRL? A further 13 chasers eagerly grabbed the 8 points on offer. It was not just G’s either. From elsewhere were: DL1FU, PA0VRM, DJ5AV and F5SQA, though an HB9 did not hear his RST even with full power selected.
This was a success too and 13 were worked starting with Carolyn G6WRW. It was good to welcome Graham G4JZF back and I can’t recall ever working EI7GAB before this month. Generally chasers had seen my request for a quick turnaround and were brief. Power was 40W with excursions to 70W where required.
Token calls on 70.45 using 3.5 W from an IC-E90 via a set-top mounted aerial produced nil QSO’s.
It was good to get going again but there was no sign of Will and his Spaniel at Thornthwaite Beacon. Since there were plenty of steep slippery surfaces around I did become slightly concerned after repeated calling on the PMR radio went answered. The next route-point is Threshthwaite Mouth, a steep, rocky 590m ASL col which stands between LD11 and LD18. Today it was 90% snow covered and seemed even steeper. Peering down from the top I could see no sign of my friend. Gingerly following a set of old frozen footmarks, I proceeded down. The best bet was to keep to the ruined wall which was sticking up through the snow. Surely Will hadn’t come down here alone had he?
Here and there could be seen marks in the snow where people had slid down for a few metres but had this drastic method of descent been intentional? We had no sticks or crampons and I knew Will’s dog had a habit of pulling him; even on descents! Struggling for grip and with my hands down in places I began to imagine the worst. Half way down a call on the PMR was answered and I spotted him waiting near the bottom and ready to climb up to LD18. What a relief! When your mate goes missing you imagine how you are going to explain it to his wife.
The route up the next one, though it’s a scramble in places and was icy today, was taken slowly and safely. Generally the ice consisted of grainy frozen snow so there was normally plenty of grip. In one or two places there were solid ice chutes but they could be avoided. Will was pleased with his efforts; Stony Cove Pike is a new one for him.
STONY COVE PIKE, GLD-018, 763m, 6pts, 11:38 to 13:19, 1 deg.C, sunshine, north wind 25 mph. Overcast but no low cloud. (IO84NL, WAB: NY41) IC706-2G QRO – 8.8 Ah Li-Po No1.
The only shelter from a north wind was a low, ruined wall but snow had drifted up to this and frozen. I was resigned to a cold activation again but after visiting the summit cairn, Will and Jessie headed straight down. I set the GPS route up for him and off they went. ‘Walk slow,’ I shouted as I screwed the mast sections together, ‘I’ll be around 90 minutes behind you.’ After kicking a hole in a 2-foot snow drift, I sat down and tuned on 1.832.
Seven stations were worked with 100W RF to the loaded inverted-vee dipole at 5m: EI2CL, G4OWG, G4OBK, G3RMD, G4RQJ, G0NES and G4BLH.
Eleven ops called me on 3.532 in 25 minutes. There was some QSB probably due to a variable D-layer at this time of day. 100W was required to reliably work through to DL1FU Frid and SM6CMU Ingemar, otherwise 30 Watts was more than sufficient. Andre ON4CAP was the third European station. The rest were from G. It just shows that even at midday, a non-appearance on 40m needs not necessarily be a barrier to a chaser from the Continent if QRO CW on 80m is used and the chaser has a good enough station and low noise levels. Luck with band condx. is still required however.
3.724 SSB produced the most QSOs. Fourteen ops; mainly G’s got the 6-points and there were two S2S’s as follows: MW0CAP/P Pete on GW/MW-013 and MM3WJZ/P Iain on GM/WS-281. Thanks for these.
The route back to Hartsop over Hartsop Dodd; avoided an icy return to Threshthwaite Mouth and the paved way down Pasture Bottom. This path though very steep near the end is easy to follow and saves time. I caught Will about 500m from the end and we walked to the car together at 14:16. ‘How are you feeling Will?’ ‘A bit tired and my feet hurt; what about you?’ ‘A little weary and lacking in enthusiasm for Red Screes.’ ‘How about Little Mell Fell then?’ ‘It’s a real steal; we can be up in ten minutes flat, grab the bonus and driving there will give us a rest.’ It was a well received suggestion and we had adequate time due to the traditional early start in the morning.
There is a small layby to leave your car and we started walking for LD37 at 15:17. The route is initially over a stile then through some ‘squidgy bits.’ Soon you are on steep ground but the pain is short lived. After some photos of Will at the trig point (this was the second ‘new one’ of the day for him) he descended back down to the car with the dog ‘for a sleep.’ I envied him of that!
LITTLE MELL FELL, G/LD-037, 505m ASL, 2 pts, 15:35 to 17:23. 4 deg C, 25 mph wind. (IO84NO, WAB: NY42) IC706-2G QRO – 8.8 Ah Li-Po No 2.
Late afternoon band conditions were noisy and by now crowded too. I was forced to try a CQ on 3.727 as 3.724 was in use. Despite painful QRM, 11 stations were worked with generally good sigs. G6BDV (Rob) thought I was a club station located in Devon. I explained about the SSEG/ SOTA. The only non ‘G’ was Pete EI7CC. 50 to 60W was used. Carolyn G6WRW persuaded me to try 160m SSB later on.
The 80m SSB session was picked up via a spare receiver in my kitchen at home. Operated by my Daughter-in-law Hazel all QSO’s were intelligible with my QRO signal apparently particularly strong amongst the QRM. Just after walking off, I discovered a text message on my phone, ‘You are 54 in Scarborough.’ I later asked her what she meant by ‘4.’ She said it was very noisy so I gave it 4! I explained about readability and signal strength and she seemed to understand. Her Foundation Licence text book arrived today so that should help.
What a success. 20 QSOs were worked on here in 26 minutes. Not only that but amongst the G’s a few ‘40m regulars’ appeared: DJ5AV, DL1FU, LA5SAA, LA1ENA, DF5WA, DL8DXL, DL4FDM, S51ZG, ON8CBQ and OK2QA. Power was 20 to 40W. A message from Geoff G4WHA in Penrith ref a QSY to 4m FM was received via G4SSH and by phone and was duly noted.
160m was starting to liven up by this time; the main reason it had been left until late. No less than 12 QSOs were logged around G and EI added to a surprising call from SP3HLM at the end. Stations worked were: G4RQJ, EI7CC, G3RMD, G3WPF, G4OWG, G4SSH, EI2CL, G3RDQ, G0NES, G3TJE, G4BLH & SP3HLM. I must apologize to Reg. I rarely use his callsign. Instead my response often takes the form of ‘Reg – 599 BK.’ This comes with having a nice short name and a big signal.
This was Carolyn’s idea. It turned out to be a good one and much appreciated by four non-CW ops. A frequency of 1843 KHz was used and power was a ‘battery straining’ 100W. I could hear what may have been evidence of a little FM-ing in the TX sidetone but carried on regardless in the knowledge that the battery would not be needed for much longer. Stations worked: G6WRW (waiting eagerly) G3RMD, G0TRB and GW7AAV. Roger TRB was very enthusiastic and the last station (op Steve) mentioned that it was the first time ever that he’d worked a SOTA on 160m. He seemed quite pleased and it was good to meet him and the others on there. In a lull during this session, I picked up the H/H and worked Geoff G4WHA on 4m FM.
4m FM: As per request via G4SSH’s QSP on 80m CW and a mobile phone call, I worked Geoff G4WHA on 70.45 MHz; 59 plus both ways. As is to be expected around this quarter of the LD region, there were no further takers on 4.
I hadn’t expected this many QSOs and was pushing my luck with Will’s goodwill so I rushed with the packing up and sped from the scene ASAP, arriving back to the car in 6 minutes flat by 17:29. Will was driving within a minute and he dropped me off at 20:20. So as not to ruin an interesting and fulfilling day, I had to stand outside my house in the dark until the soaps had finished making my entry at precisely 20:30! This made for a more attentive welcome from my XYL and Daughter-in-Law but there were a few comments such as ‘you shouldn’t sit in snow drifts and why did you talk so long and keep your friend waiting?’ It doesn’t help that the kitchen receiver and SOTAWatch have been ‘discovered’ by my family!
This expedition, though somewhat short of past glories in terms of points gained, has gone some way towards restoring a little pride & self respect after a particularly dire performance during this winter bonus period. I don’t think 54 summits in a winter will ever return for me now. I have other priorities, nor least a Grandson with an absent father.
Top Band rarely fails to please and the day’s total of 30 QSO’s on there with every hill qualified speaks of a very good effort from chasers.
LD11 & LD18: Ascent 838m (2750ft) with 8.3mls walked.
LD37: 125 m (410 ft) of ascent / 2 x 0.7 km (0.9 miles) walked.
All three: 963m (3159ft) with 9.2 miles walked.
Miles driven: Approx 285 miles in the day.
QRO pack: 12kg (26 pound.)
IC706-2G and adjustable link-dipole with160m loading-coils.
5m H/B CFC mast with 1m CFC end supports.
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for LD11, LD18 QRO.
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for LD37 QRO.
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 2m set-top helical extended for 4m.
ICOM BP217 Li-Ion detachable battery (7.4V - 1.3 Ah)
Not tested but neither battery was fully depleted.
26 on 160m CW.
4 on 160m SSB.
45 on 80m CW.
38 on 80m SSB.
1 on 4m FM.
25 activator points.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED AND TO: G4OBK, G4SSH, G6WRW & G4BLH for spotting.
73, John (G4YSS).
(Using The Scarborough Special Events Group club-call, GX0OOO/P)