Activation of AN TEALLACH GM/NS-004. (1st for SOTA).
GM4YSS/P (used for database) & SSEG Club-call GS0OOO/P.
All times BST (UTC plus 1hr, UOS).
‘FUNGUS’-2008 (Fun Goin’ Up Scotland) continued:
3rd and final day of a 3-day GM/NS sortie.
See previous reports for Suilven & Arkle……
FT817ND-QRP and a 20-30-40-60-80 (160m loaded) link-dipole. 5m H/B CFC mast and 6-cell, 11.1V, 4.4 Ah Li-Po battery. Reserves (not used): VX150 2m-FM H/H. Eight 2.7Ah-AA, Ni-Mh cells to fit either rig. Approx.10 kg pack including 1.5 ltr. water.
There was one day left available so I had to do something. This escapade had meant a 1000 mile round trip and thus far I had only managed to accrue a scant 8 SOTA points! No worries; this was summer and I wasn’t in it for points, just the pure joy of activating terrific targets. Why not treat the chasers to a ‘higher hit’ which would better ‘lift the spirits’ of GM activators ‘stuck’ in boring offices? (HI). I had prepared routes for a couple. Ben More Assynt was one but my son Andrew & I had done that together with Conival and a nearby Anson aircraft wreck, back in 1997.
Another was An Teallach; a significant ‘lump’ for one so far north and a Munro to boot but why had I never heard of it? Or had I? How stupid of me! This was all about pronunciation and it had gradually dawned on me over a period of time that ‘Anjalak’ and the words written in the title of 1:25k OS Map 445 were one and the same! Well, you have to learn sometime and NS4 was famous after all.
There promised to be plenty of interest in this 8-pointer but from my point of view, it was a long way up. Worse still, the start point (Dundonnell) is as near as makes no difference to sea level. Ben More on Mull is the same but I’d managed that years ago, so why not NS4 today? It isn’t a long walk but it would be my third day, back-to-back.
I awoke early, peeping across Loch Broom from my layby ‘campsite’ at NH079886, through a gap in my makeshift curtains. Excellent; no sun! It was dull and breezy but not raining. I phoned Denise while the breakfast got itself ready. Then I found that the wind had blown my stove over, spilling the lot. I made do with some cereal washed down with 1.5 ltr of cold water. Not a great way to start the day but I knew that the high fluid intake wouldn’t go amiss.
At NH 0935 8781 there is space for half a dozen cars and it was reassuring to see a Mountain Rescue HQ, just opposite. The path from the A832 isn’t signposted. You cross a Burn and climb a little steel gate, which is fastened into the fence and you’re away. This path does not ‘mess around.’ No huge, undulating walk-in here; you’re ascending from the very first metre!
The OS map shows the path up as far as NH071862 but after a while it became clear that I was travelling along another path entirely. Either that or the map was in error! No matter, ‘my’ path did all the navigational work, delivering me right to the 1062m summit in a well graded and ascent-efficient manner. Here are some of the marked waypoints: Start (08:23) NH 09358 87805. Thence NH 09506 87486 - NH 09456 87155 - NH 09307 87159 - NH 09215 86863 – Junction NH 08625 86565 - NH 08047 86315 - NH 07207 85700 - NH 06927 85388 - Cairn 1 NH 06753 85174 - Cairn 2 NH 06728 85033 - NH 06954 84802 - NH 06874 84572 - NH 06858 84384. The badly cracked Trig Pillar was measured at NH 06902 84356.
The first part is through grass, heather etc but the path is good, if a little ‘zig-zaggy.’ Later there’s more rock and a little care is needed not to go wrong on some of the plain, flat rock sections. When the path becomes ill-defined over Sron-a-Choire; simply walk directly between the two cairns then contour around the south side of the 910m high point, crossing the 880m Col to start the final ‘push.’ A little height is lost here. The occasional zig-zag takes you steadily up the northerly flank of Bidein-a-Ghlas Thuill. A quick left turn near the top and you’re there.
Conditions had been perfect; no sun and a cold wind. Starting at 08:23, the shirt-sleeved ascent took me 2 hours - 16 minutes, with a (same-route) descent time of 1 hour - 19 minutes. The summit is quite ‘peaky’ and (40m long) dipole positioning needs to be accurate if paths are not to be blocked and Munro-baggers garrotted! The ‘rotten toothed’ ridge of Lord Berkley’s Seat is worth a photo but I was relieved that I didn’t have to spend an extra hour getting over there.
ACTIVATION: AN TEALLACH (Bidein-a-Ghlas-Thuill) - GM/NS-004, 1062m (3484ft) 8pts, 10:39 to 15:42 BST. 8 deg C, 15 mph wind. Dull with wispy low-cloud to 13:00, then bright with a few minutes of hazy sun. WAB: NH08. Loc: IO77TI. (First activation for SOTA.) An Teallach Summit (Bidein a Ghlas... © John Earnshaw cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland
40m CW: G4SSH Roy’s computer was ‘down’ so a CQ call on 7.032.6 brought in (probably) the first ever SOTA station to work NS4, namely Heinz DL7RAG. A ‘Rapid Response Force’ of 28 ‘eager beavers’ reacted to the spot kindly supplied by Heinz and these could be roughly percented 35/65 for UK/EU. Notable at 11:02z was an S2S with Bernd, DL2DXA/P on the 643m Zeisighübel (DM/SX-138.) Graham G3OHC (The UK’s latest activator) finished off this session.
40m SSB: Just 7 (all ‘G’) stations could hear me on 7.061 but no matter, the remaining G’s might well succeed later on 60m and the Europeans who missed it on 7 MHz CW could try again on 10.118. Once again, Frank G3RMD did the QSY spotting on my behalf.
160m CW: I certainly wasn’t complaining about having managed just a single 160m QSO per mountain so far this week but I was in for a little surprise today. Cris GM4FAM had ‘brought along’ a friend who also lived in the Inverness area. This was Andy GM0UDL, one of those universally admired ‘GM hardmen’, and one who specialises in activating Munro’s. Setting up over rock today, it took 10 minutes to get the coils right and they sagged the antenna still further down the NNW side of the summit. Nevertheless, it was still a simple matter to work Chris and Andy, though the ground-wave signals were noticeably attenuated by the rock barrier.
Once again, Phil G4OBK was heard only, calling from his ‘super station’ in YSN but after these, there wasn’t so much as a squeak. I felt sorry for the two EI’s and other stations who are keen and regular collectors on 1.832 CW but I was way too far north for them in daylight and had too little power available.
30m CW: For the third and final time shorter than expected skip on 40m prompted a change to 10.118 MHz for the Europeans. Unbelievably, with a roughly 40/60 G/EU split, the majority of chasers were ‘in with a chance’ regardless of geography, even on 30m! The band-total of 23 stations must easily be a 30m best score for me and I did note that a few who had tried and failed on 40-CW made it through OK on 30.
60m SSB (channel FE): When compared with Suilven and Arkle , twice as many ‘G’ ops (13) got through on the reliable 5.398.5 MHz USB. The ‘World’s newest 160m band chaser,’ Andy GM0UDL was one of these and we were able to arrange a sked on 145.575 FM, for later. Last on here was another new local acquaintance; Loz MM0LOZ of Inverness.
2m FM: Andy GM0UDL almost smashed my S-meter ‘on sked’ using the local chat-channel of S23 and a 26 ely! After having struggled to get reports into as many logs as possible on HF, VHFM was a pleasant, easy-listening place to end the activation. It was also an opportunity to talk with these interesting ‘ice-men of the frozen north!’ Cris GM4FAM was next up but with (in his words) ‘A mediocre 2m setup,’ with 55 both ways. We passed it around via Stuart GM0GTU (Nairn), Ian GM4JAE (Nr.Inverness), Norman MM0CJH/M and following a 70cm QSO, Don MM0DAC (Ardersier).
70cm FM: We’d set this ‘experiment’ up whilst on 2m FM but I had no choice but to use the 2m vertical with a sky-high VSWR and the hope of a little 3rd harmonic response. Under these circumstances, Don MM0DAC, QTH Ardersier (between Inverness & Nairn) was the only station able to make two-way contact on 433.500 (SU20).
I hope I was right in not offering 80m CW/SSB but it seemed to me that most of the regular G’s had worked me on 40, 30 & 60m. 80m and 5W might not have reached very far anyway.
In the 5 hours on the summit, I had met a Munro-chaser from Leeds and a party comprising two German’s and an American. It was the latter group who set off down 5 minutes before me. They were really moving and it took me half an hour to catch them. However, in amongst the expected euphoria, my thoughts were now turning to the task of getting home and apart from two minor path-losses, I was down in quick time for 17:01. 17:15 saw me underway on the 400 mile drive, reaching Scarborough at just after 1am on Friday morning. After refuelling at Inverness (not too full ‘cos it leaks out) I had a nice chat with Andy GM0UDL on 145-FM, until he finally faded out.
40m CW: 29
40m SSB: 7
160m CW: 2
30m CW: 23
60m SSB: 13
2m FM: 6
70cm FM: 1
Total: 81 QSO’s.
Battery utilisation: 73% (measured) of 4.4 Ah Li-Po. (5W inc. FM)
12 km walked and approx 1070m (3510ft) of ascent.
Thanks to all stations worked and to DL7RAG, G3RMD, G4OBK, EI2CL & GM4FAM for spotting support. Thank you too for your obvious interest in these three interesting summits. It’s obvious that Suilven (at least) is a firm favourite of many walkers and a must-do target for SOTA activators alike.
For the third day running, communication had been possible on 40m and 30m to both the UK and Europe. These were only three summits but it had been a hard but entirely successful 3 days. It’s probably a very well-visited summit but An Teallach had been a thoroughly good SOTA target. The ‘magic’ of Suilven, Arkle and ‘Anchalac’ and the elation generated by activating them especially on 1.8 MHz, cannot be described. The ‘beat-up’ old Ford Fiesta accommodation was far from ideal and barely suitable for a person of my senior years! On the other hand, it was very economical and placed me at the start-point for each summit, the night before activation. What could be better than that?
3-Day / 3-summit stats:
Total ascent: 2,630m (8,629ft)
Total distance walked: 46 km (29 miles)
Total distance driven: 1,634 km (1,021 miles)
SOTA activator points: 16
73, John G(M)4YSS,
using SSEG GS0OOO/P.
(This summit entered under GM4YSS/P for SOTA purposes)