G4YSS Activation Report: GW/NW-002 on 30-07-13.
Carnedd Llewelyn in an afternoon.
G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P on 40m & 2m.
All times BST (UTC plus 1).
FT817ND QRP. Adjustable dipole 80 thru 20. 5m mast; 1m end sticks.
One 4.4 Ah Li-Po, part discharged.
IC-E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 7.4V /1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery (not used).
Ascent:10kg (22 pounds) inc 1.0 litres drinks (0.25ltr used).
Descent:16kg (35 pounds) inc 6kg of quartz rock samples.
I had climbed NW2 once before but that was 10 years ago as part of a three day, nine GW-SOTA expedition with almost 13,000 foot of ascent. That time it was accessed from Pen Llithrig y Wrach via Pen Yr Helgi; the retreat being via Cwm Eigiau to the car west of the reservoir of the same name. This was a long walk-in which certainly would not be repeated today. Instead the route recorded by G7KXV was chosen. It initially goes up a service road from the A5, passing Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir. Unlike Ian, I would not be taking a mountain bike for a
free ride down. In fact it would have been an encumbrance today due to several locked gates barring vehicular access.
One thing which affected the decision regarding the type of expedition was the fact that we were on a family holiday with my 5 year old Grandson in tow. As everybody knows, keeping a 5 year-old amused and out of trouble for a whole week can be trying. Two adults are barely enough; three is better! I had volunteered to take Jack swimming in the hotel pool (again) in the morning which left just half a day to
shoe-horn in what I knew would be quite a significant climb. Jack
s mother took the time off to look round the shops in peace and his Grandma went to try out the local haidressers. To further compound the issue, today was my 64th birthday and there were cards and presents to open (not that Im complaining).
When the hotel evening meal time is added to the equation, this is a
quart into as pint pot situation, which put me under quite a bit of pressure. After a two-hour session in the pool with Jack, I was left with little more than a 6 hour window, hotel to hotel. I could have picked something easier but dearly wanted to put on this 10-pointer for the chasers. At least it was only a 45 minute drive from Llandudno but with the requirement to move as quickly as possible, this was a job for QRP.
I left Llandudno at 12:15, driving via the A55 and A5 to the end of the reservoir road at SH 6876 6027 where I assumed there might be space for just one car. Unfortunately this was occupied by a large van! With time constraints very much in mind, I drove on eastwards but could find nowhere to leave the vehicle.
Eventually I noticed a small car park only 200m west of the chosen start point for the walk. This was Gwern Gof campsite at SH 6851 6028. After parking, I spotted a notice,
Parking costs two pounds, please pay up at the farmhouse. After driving up to the buildings and eventually finding a door to knock on, I found I couldn`t raise anybody. Hoping for the best, I left the cash wrapped in a note on the window sill. By now my first hour had almost gone but I managed to get walking for 13:14.
As I left the car park, a group of about eight climbers smiling broadly, commented on the black furled umbrella which I was using as a walking stick and carrying with a rather exaggerated swagger, like a London
man-about-town. I explained about the radio and extended summit times and they seemed vaguely satisfied though still a bit bemused. This was the first of three or four
umbrella moments I was to have today.
Access is straightforward. After a short walk east down the A5, turn left at the reservoir road (SH 6876 6027) and cross the first of several ladder stiles. The road is straight and steep in places with a good tarmac surface. Leave the road on an ill-defined grass path at SH 6942 6240. This is merely a short cut to the main hill path which is encountered at SH 6947 6247. Follow the gravelly path, steep and rocky in places, as it zig-zags up to the col named Bwlch Eryl Farchog (SH 6944 6335). There turn left along the ridge at which point the route became familiar to me from when I walked it ten years ago.
At SH 6929 6352 there is a short rock pitch to negotiate. A little care is needed with hands and feet up this minor scramble but it`s nothing too onerous and the angle not great. Having encountered this in 2003, I was expecting it. From there you climb steadily via SH 6923 6360; SH 6913 6380; SH 6879 64190 and SH 6856 6427 to a summit shelter.
The climb was made harder by a valley temperature of 21 C but at least it wasn`t sunny on the way up. In fact the umbrella was needed to fend off a shower near the top, as well as creating more mild amusement and comments from other walkers. Despite being pushed for time, the steady but almost non-stop ascent had cost me 100 minutes.
Today, I wandered past the occupied shelter at SH 6838 6435 and as far as SH 6824 6449 in low cloud, anxiously looking for a place to activate. Close to the shelter, the GPS altimeter read only 1,055m, which gave the impression that there was higher ground hidden somewhere in the fog. Not only that, the waypoint I had in my GPS for the summit was for some reason several tens of metres in error. I eventually realised and returned to the edge at SH 6840 6437, where a rock provided some respite from the damp-laden wind. Thus, further time was wasted.
CARNEDD LLEWELYN, GW/NW-002, 1,064m (3,491ft) 6 pts. 14:54 to 16:43. 15C. 15mph wind. Low-cloud and drizzle at first, then part sunshine. (LOC: IO83AD. WAB: SH66). Orange EE phone coverage possible - see below)
Though at times the phone
meter read full scale, poor signal was at first blamed for an inability to communicate with Roys
phone-a-spot service. Four days later intermittent simcard contacts were diagnosed. This problem was to plaque me on Snowdon later in the week but today yet more valuable time was squandered trying again and again from different locations.
It was looking like I would have to rely on my own efforts as I had not pre-alerted the activation and could not phone for a spot or even launch-off a single text to my XYL. When faced with this situation it`s best to call where someone will be listening; namely 7.032 CW but after erecting the dipole I found that the dreaded Russian multitone signal was wiping out everything from 7.029 to 7.034. Apart from invading Russia, there was only one way out of this. Erect the J-Pole and call on S20 ASAP.
145.300 FM - 16 QSO`s:
With 5 Watts to the half-wave, I worked 16 stations predominantly located in Lancashire, Cumbria, the Wirrall, North Wales and Newcastle under Lyme. Incoming reports ranged from 59 up to 59 plus 60 dB with only four under 59.
John GW4GRW/M, having climbed Carnedd Llewelyn a few times in the past, took an interest in the weather conditions and the route I had used.
There was an S2S and an
almost S2S. M6LDE/M David called in from the summit of Ingleborough G/NP-005 and Liz M6EPW/P, out walking her dog, was operating from a hill called Knock Murton (447m) which is near Blake Fell (LD31).
I kept on announcing a plan to QSY to 7.022 CW in the hope someone would spot this intention. In the end Derek 2E0MIX put a 20 minute alert on for me. The last chaser worked was Brian G4ZRP and he backed up Derek`s alert with a real-time texted spot from his phone. Without these two spots, operation on 40m outside the accepted frequencies of 7.032/ 7.033 would have been futile but because of them a minor pile-up awaited me on 40m.
7.021.8 CW - 20 QSO`s:
Frid DL1FU was first back to my CQ on here but many other stations were calling. Band conditions soon proved surprisingly good, given poor the performance of 40m throughout the summer. 5 Watts from the FT817ND was getting out as far as Switzerland, Austria and Spain. Furthermore, half the stations worked were in the UK, confirming good short-skip conditions too.
Incoming reports were never less than 549 with several 599
s. I couldnt have been more fortunate. After risking QRP in place of the preferred QRO, the 40m band backed up this decision by being in good shape. I worked the following prefixes: DL; PA; G; HB9; ON; GM; EA; OE. The final station worked was F5SQA Dan. After Dan, the frequency was clear which surprised me a little.
Much as I would have loved to try 40 SSB, there was no time for further bands and modes. Even if I set off immediately, I might still be late for evening meal at the hotel if the traffic turned out to be heavy. I had two antennas to take down and I wanted to gather a few of the attractive quartz rock samples I had seen a few metres down from the summit. One large piece and several small ones were loaded into the rucksack. With just QRP gear it was possible to carry 6 kg of rocks but I had forgotten that I would have to climb down the rock face with these!
The descent was uneventful apart from further comments regarding the brolli. I don`t know what it was today about an item which I regard as an essential piece of mountain equipment in showery weather. After the rock pitch and apart from sore feet caused by walking down the reservoir road, I arrived back to the car in reasonable condition by 18:03.
With no time to spare I was driving by 18:07 and back at Llandudno for 18:45. We made it into the dining room with 45 minutes eating time remaining which put a smile on my XYL`s face.
downer was passing a parked police car whilst going rather too quickly along the A55, so I may find myself coughing up some more speed tax. I am certainly overdue some but this was part of a SOTA expedition which will make it less painful. Much worse will be when the vehicle owner; namely my XYL gets the letter through the post! I still bear the scars from last time.
ASCENT & DISTANCE: 793m (2,602ft) of ascent / 11.4 km (7.2 miles).
Left Llandudno: 12:15.
Walk from Gwern Gof (A5): 13:14
GW/NW-002: 14:54 to 16:43
Returned Gwern Gof: 18:03
Return Llandudno, Marine Hotel: 18:45.
Gross time (Hotel to Hotel): 6.5 hrs.
Walking time: 100min + 80min = 3hrs.
Summit time: 1hr-49min.
SOTA Activator points: 10!
16 on 2m FM.
20 on 40m CW.
I knew at the planning stage, that this should have been a full day operation with an early start, enabling an all-band QRO effort. The token half-day activation was constrained not only by lack of time but a lack of pre-alerting and spotting ability due to (what was later found out to be) a mobile phone simcard fault. The spots provided by Derek and Brian were pivotal in at least enabling a handful of overseas stations to bag their 10 points. However, judging by a total of less than 200 previous QSO for this mountain on
Europa bands 80; 40 and 30m in 11 years, I suspect just as many ops on 40m were first time contactors of NW2.
It would have been good to offer more options; especially 40m SSB but there was no time. In some ways it was an opportunity wasted but where families are concerned priorites get juggled. The final tally of 360 chaser points given away was disappointing.
On the plus side, once established on 40m, conditions were surprisingly good. Considering the 5 Watts available, I was able to pull in stations from
G to mid-Europe. It
s a pity that more couldnt hear me. An appearance on 30m might have remedied that but again there was no time. 160m would have been nice too but it`s far from easy in daylight with QRP.
When you add it all up, significant time was wasted in finding a place to park, paying for the parking, way-finding/ marking a new (to me) route, the scrambles up and down, the broken down phone, confusion about where the actual summit was in fog & low-cloud, a GPS that was telling lies and the final straw; a usurped SOTA frequency. Without these, sufficient time would have been available to put on another band or mode.
Being 64 that very day highlights the fact that I am not quite as sprightly or quick thinking as I used to be and things seem to take a little longer nowadays. If I ever do this one again it is deserving of a full day. The effort in putting even a modest station on top of a three and a half thousand foot mountain is not insignificant, so justice needs to be done in the operating.
When the fog cleared, the views were terrific especially Tryfan on the way down. The weather behaved itself after the initial glitch and I must say, I do have an affinity for this mountain with its extensive high top, great position and command over all its neighbours except one. Snowdon is a very different kettle of fish because of the number of visitors it receives. On Carnedd Llewelyn you can enjoy a mountain of similar stature but without the hoards.
I must apologize for the bad keying. The spring-loaded toggle switch on the QRP rig has a different feel to it and I don`t use it often. Both hands are needed; one to hold the microphone and the other the toggle switch. The log must be simultaneously held down with the left forearm and if it slips I send rubbish. Some funtionality is thus sacrificed for lightness and the requirement to carry a Morse key is eliminated.
To ALL STATIONS worked. To 2E0MIX Derek and G4ZRP Brian for essential time-saving spots. Thanks to chasers, especially the ones on 2m-FM for their understanding of the need for time efficiency. I`m often in a rush but will try not to be next time.
73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club call - GC0OOO/P)
(See separate reports for NW40 & NW1)