G4YSS Actn Rprt NW6, NW3 & NW4,11-11-07 (& 2003)

SOTA Activation Report for NW6, NW3 & NW4, TRYFAN, GLYDER FAWR & Y GARN, on 11-11-07.

G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P. Unaccompanied. 2m FM only. All times UTC.

The final day of our 3 day Llandudno break. (See previous reports for 09-11-07 NW1, NW8 and 10-11-07 NW40)

My experience of these three SOTA’s is limited to a 3-day trip to GW, back in May-2003, when 9 big NW’s were bagged in order to expedite the MG process. The only way to achieve that level of activity was to forget fancy accommodation or proper meals and literally ‘kip-in-the-car’ at the foot of the next day’s SOTA. (See 2003 summary below.)

This time things were quite different. Times were dictated by hotel meals and the busy schedules of two ladies. Luckily, there was a free Sunday Christmas lunch on offer at the hotel. Also, they wanted to attend a Remembrance Day service and look at a few shops to buy a new coat. All in Llandudno! ‘John; sorry but we won’t be coming with you today, you’ll have to take my car & go on your own.’ I was on the point of weeping but I could see that they were determined. I promised to be back for 6 pm. (All being well).

The plan was for a lightweight (VHFM) assault on Tryfan; then via the Glyders, to Y Garn. Adding Elidir Fawr on this occasion was not even considered. Way back in summer, I’d created a GPS route for Tryfan’s north ridge but having no chauffer would mean some road walking. Besides, the rock was wet & slimy enough and the clag was to be half way down the mountain by 10:30 am. Call me chicken but that was left to a better day.

Today’s return route was to be via Y Garn’s NE ridge, to the start / finish point in the car park at the west end of Llyn Ogwen (SH 6492 6038). In other words, a bog-standard approach which I hoped would be completed within the available time. Given lots more time, I think it would have been feasible to put these three (or four) on HF but just single-handedly erecting a dipole on Tryfan and removing it might take an hour and it would be a very long day indeed.

I skipped breakfast and shot down the A55, to the pay & display car park (£3) at the end of Llyn Ogwen (which apparently is only 10 feet deep!) ‘Pre-hydrating’ with 1 litre before walking out at 09:14, I remembered that the route to Tryfan leaves the car park behind the toilets / Warden’s office, then there’s a junction at SH 6516 6014 where my return path joins. At Llyn Botchlwyd you head for the Bwlch. Bwlch Tryfan is where the real work starts so I cut the corner a little.

I was respectful the first time I saw NP6 but at least it was clear then. The cloud was descending quickly now but I did at least have some old 2003 waypoints to follow. However, this time I was out for an easier ride rather than climb over the South Peak, which had resulted in an ascent time of 105 minutes. I did find a better way; a path which skirts most of the ‘big stuff’ by keeping west of the ridge. This path, though obviously well known, saved me lots of time, so I thought it was important enough to make a detailed survey worthwhile.

Here’s how it went: SH 66121 58891, SH 66166 59018, SH 66181 59137, SH 66236 59167, SH 66273 59222, SH 66281 59245, SH 66316 59253, SH 66331 59305, SH 66371 59323 and a final tricky bit next to a cliff edge at SH 66381 59361. I marked in Adam & Eve at SH 66400 59385 but I’m not brave enough to jump between them. The ascent took 79 minutes.

This summit reminds me of WAB area OV00. Like a rocky foreshore without the barnacles but inclined at a crazy angle. It is just a random jumble of outsize rocks, some huge and vertical. There is yellow lichen on a few of them and this matches the green slime of OV for its frictional properties when wet. If you lose the path (easy to do in mist with all its abrupt direction changes) you may easily reach an impasse and have to back-track, so taking a bit of time to seek out the right way saves you in the long run.

TRYFAN, GW/NW-006, 915m (3002ft) 8 pts. 10:33 to 11:55. 5 deg C, low-cloud, raining, 25 mph wind. (IO83AC, SH65)

Rain was not forecast but ‘rain’ hadn’t been informed of that. By 10:50, I was crouched under the umbrella at the edge of a 100 foot drop. The thing leaked and wet the log. Mike, G4BLH was right on the ball with an immediate answer to a CQ on S20. By the time I’d worked Mike, Mick 2E0HJD and Glynn GW7SBO, it was time to QRT for the 2 minute Remembrance Day silence. It was good that everyone seemed to be observing this as I switched off the rig. At 11:03, Mike tried to ‘patch me through’ to Steve M0SGB on Buckden Pike (NP9). It was without success but I could just tell he was there. Using 5W to the half-wave vert, I worked 16 ops, half of them regulars.

Always reluctant to use waterproofs, donning them today turned out to be the right decision as it was not to dry up until 15:00. The low-cloud hung around until nearly 16:00 with the base at around 700m. A father and his son walked down with me. Even with the GPS track, we went slightly wrong and hit ‘rough country.’ They gave up their circuit and returned to the car park, correctly predicting that they would ‘see no views today.’

I set about the task of climbing Glyder Fach in lashing rain and depressing fog on a path starting at SH 6616 5876 up to where the gradient eases at SH 6596 5847. After that, I lost the path twice, floundering in rock-fields on the ridge in bad-viz but arrived at NW3 with 11 minutes to spare on the 2003 time, which was probably attributable to the easier Tryfan route. (Some marked path-points along the top were: SH 6603 5848, SH 6595 5846, SH 6574 5835, SH 6560 5823, SH 6550 5823, SH 6543 5812, SH 6539 5809 & SH 6505 5813.) There were a few people about so I headed for a high-point / monolith for the activation, at SH 6425 5796. The vertical rock provided a natural windbreak and a fissure at the top accepted the short mast, jammed in with a stone.

GLYDER FAWR, GW/NW-003, 999m (3279ft) 10 pts. 13:50 to 14:24. 4 deg C, low-cloud, rain increasing, hailstones, 35 mph wind. (IO73XC, SH65)

Not wishing to stay long in these conditions, I didn’t bother with the sit-mat, logging Nigel 2E0NHM at 13:55. A brisk activation ensued, the regulars picking up the mood caused by the WX. I still took the trouble to spell out everything to newcomers; one asking for the QTH (in non-SOTA speak) and one or two ‘GC’ callsign clarifications. After 19 claimed ‘top points’ in 22 minutes, there were no more takers. Conscious of the time, I snatched a minor lunch in the 7 minutes it took me to pack up. The log sheet was a real mess and resembled ink-stained tissue paper. With no time for finesse, I screwed it into a ball, rammed it in a rucksack side pocket and got going.

A rocky path goes down via SH 6405 5795 and SH 63811 58193 where it steepens, becoming rougher and looser. At SH 6381 5833 it becomes a rake, the gradient easing towards Lynn y Cwn, where the next escape route (if req’d) drops away through the Devils Kitchen. By all accounts, the latter is not as bad as its name suggests unless you try it on ice (ref G1INK). With just enough time left for Y Garn, I didn’t hang around to find out; instead taking the well-defined path and the left fork at SH 6352 5886 to NW4. At last the rain had stopped, the cloud was showing slight signs of lifting and the wind had eased.

Y GARN, GW/NW-004, 947m (3107ft) 8 pts. 15:13 to 15:45. 5 deg C, low-cloud, 15 mph wind. (IO73XC, SH65)

Despite the remaining fog, this was the best part of the day. Announcing ‘ready in 2 minutes’ on S20,’ an encouraging ‘Roger’ was heard to come back. I think this was from Mike G4BLH. At any rate, he was the first of 13 into the log; all UK ops except Tony EI6EQB in Dublin. Young Jordan, M3TMX collected 8 points here and 10 earlier but missed Tryfan in the morning. Several got all 26 on offer.

Two Welsh Border Collies ran out of the mist. These were pursued by a lady fell-runner who sat down to rest a while. I am envious of runners being able to cover ground so rapidly but it must be very hard on the joints.

I saw the north ridge path (SH 6308 5974) as the mist finally lifted to reveal a great sunset. I’d have loved a photo of it along with the first real views of the day but the Nikon digital camera had seen fit to ‘pack-up’ on Tryfan; the third camera I’ve wrecked in as many years. The lens refused to deploy; the screen saying ‘lens error.’ More expense, to add to the Paclite over-trousers, ripped on Tryfan’s rocks; the price paid for one minor navigational blunder.

At SH 6337 6000, the runner and dogs whistled past. The path, steep and loose at first, is easy to follow via SH 6447 5993, to the left turn at SH 6516 6014 and Idwal Cottage car park 300m after that. I arrived there at 16:35 with daylight to spare, after walking down most of the way with the local warden, on the way back to his office.

He was an interesting character but hadn’t yet heard of SOTA. I did my best to present it in as good a light as possible after he told me about the first time he’d heard of Geocaching, about which a policy of tolerance was eventually adopted. Also, we discussed Welsh high-ground WW2 aircraft remains and he was kind and trusting enough to give me some information before displaying relevant photos (a Heinkel 111) on his computer screen. After this and learning the meanings and pronunciations of a few Welsh Mountain names, I was left with a good impression of the work done by wardens and the need to respect the remote places. What fine employment he has! Drove back in good time for the evening meal at Llandudno and a look at the XYL’s new coat.

Summary….NW6: 16 QSO’s. NW3: 19 QSO’s. NW4: 13 QSO’s. Total: 48.
Gross time ‘out’: 7 hr-21 min, comprising……
Net (walking) time: 4 hr-53 min.
SOTA time: 2 hr-28 min.
Total ascent: 1222m (4009ft). Dist. walked: 12km (7.5 miles). 26 points.

VX150 with 6 x 2.7 Ah AA Ni-Mh. 5W (or 2W as req’d) to H/B half-wave vert. J-pole.
Jingtong JT208 H/H as ‘reserve’ equipment.

The 2m FM ‘compromise’ worked well again in getting an efficient job done, in poor WX and on rocky tops where dipoles are time-consuming to erect. There still was not sufficient time on this occasion, to add Elidir Fawr. No summit was cloud-free and on two, it rained and was fairly windy. The GPS data-gathering was worthwhile and should make it easier next time. It is the first time I have observed the 2 minutes Remembrance Day silence on a SOTA activation.

Weekend success rates: Just three operators worked GC0OOO on all six (misty) summits over the 3 days, scooping 48 points. Coincidentally, these were all named Michael; viz 2E0HJD, G4BLH & GW0DSP. Well done to those. Also, John GW4BVE, Zofia 2E0ZLD & Barrie M3PXW worked five each, with four for Dave M0DFA.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and to Mike G4BLH, Mick 2E0HJD & Nigel 2E0NHM for spots.
73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Club callsign, GC0OOO/P)

2003, 3-day sortie: Summaries from rough notes, hitherto unreported.

25-May-2003, NW8, NW1, NW19 activations were as follows: Drove from Scarborough. QSO’s: 4, 7, 5. Tot: 16. 1423m ascent, 14 km. 2m FM using 4 W to omni vertical. Icom ICT7E H/H. Watkin Path & down Clogwyn Brith incline. 10.5 hrs gross, 7.5 hrs net. 24 points. (Made video).

26-May-2003, NW6, NW3, NW4, NW5 activations were as follows: QSO’s: 5, 11, 4, 8. Tot: 28. 1509m ascent, 17.4 km. 10 hr-15 min gross, 7 hr-15 min net, 3 hr sota time. VHFM, 4 W to omni vertical. Icom ICT7E H/H. Route details as far as Y Garn are as described in 2007 report above. From there the route to NW5, skirting both Foel Goch and Mynydd Perfedd, is fairly obvious. The route back to Idwal Cottage from Elidir Fawr (NW5) was to back-track to Bwlch y Cywion, then down steep scree at SH 6291 6092 to SH 6306 6092. A gap in the wall at SH 6379 6031 gives access to a ladder stile at SH 6411 6038 followed by the ‘C’ road near the Hostel at SH 6440 6041. It’s east from there for 600m. This is inelegant and mostly pathless but bypasses 170m of re-ascent and one mile of distance, back to the Y Garn NE ridge path. 34 points. (Made video)

27-May-2003, NW13, NW2 activations were as follows: QSO’s: 4 & 14. Tot 18. 1956m ascent, 18 km. 8 hr-20 min Gross, 6 hr net, 2 hr-20 min sota time. (Eqpt. as above) Route: Parked at SH 7318 6632 & walked under Llyn Eigiau Dam wall to a quarry at SH 7195 6358. From there I did not find a path but walked via bilberry at SH 7193 6318, over grass SH 7185 6287, SH 7164 6255 to NW13. NW2 was accessed via SH 7125 6258, an ‘interesting’ ridge at SH 6969 6312 and a rock pitch at SH 6929 6352. The retreat was via SH 6964 6513 but I did not find a path until SH 7014 6429. The path goes via SH 7007 6384 to meet a track at SH 7027 6362. This is the beginning of civilisation but there’s still a long way to go. I crossed a bridge at SH 7186 6401, then it was via the dam again, to the car and the drive to Scarborough. 18 points. 3-days 2003: 3886m (12750ft) ascent, 49 km, 72 pts.