G4YSS:G/NP10-NP11-NP4; Final WB,14-03-14

G4YSS Activation of NP10, NP11 & NP4 on 14-03-14

Bands: 2m & 4m FM
G4YSS using SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P
All times UTC on Friday 14-03-14

Half-Wave J-Pole for 2m with RG316 coax.
Short 2-section aluminium mast.
Extended 2m band helical on IC-E90 for 4m.

NP10 & NP4:
2m & 4m-FM: IC-E90 4-Band VHFM, 5W H/H.
NP10: 4.4 Ah Li-Po Battery/ H/B DC Adaptor for IC-E90.
NP4: ICOM H/H 7.4V, 1.3 Ah Li-Ion battery.
Jingtong JT208, 2m-FM, 2.5W H/H (Li-Po converted) in reserve (not used).

Kenwood TM702-T; 25 Watt 2m/ 70cm Mobile.
Icom IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) H/H in reserve (not used on NP11).

The final winter bonus grab had arrived. Walking mate Will was planned to go on this one. LD11, LD18 and LD17 were to be the targets. Subsequent to early weather forecasters trying to be optimistic and assuring us that we would have a good week, I was shocked when I saw Fridays mountain forecast. It was for a reasonable start butlaterthere were to be winds up to 40mph, gusts to 55mph, fog and drizzly rain. It all depended on what they meant bylaterbut this was my last chance to increase the tally and I would be going regardless. The only thing that changed were the summits to be activated; NPs in place of the LD`s.

I left Scarborough at 04:28, driving 98 miles via A64, York, Harrogate, Skipton and Burnsall; arriving at the honesty box (1GBP) near Dale Head Farm (SD 8426 7145) for 06:42. The Burnsall route was decided by the satnav but the latter was to cause problems on the way home.

NP10 Ascent - New Pavement:
Start time was 06:58 and for once I managed to sneak past the farm without the dogs making a commotion. Before reaching the boardwalk, I had to stop to remove my fleece. With the DAB radio on, the climb seemed to last no time and with the crags behind me, I was surprised to see a big orange caterpillar-tracked digger and a barrier formed of steel stakes and plastic tape, across the path. Steel-banded stacks of large stone flags lined the sides of the path right up to the trig point. Perhaps 20m of path was already completed.

On the one hand, this much improves the rough, muddy top section but on balance, stone improvements detract from the natural feel. What ever your viewpoint, in the coming weeks we will have a smooth stone path over what is now a rough muddy section from crag-top to Pen-y-Ghent’s trig point.

My personal opinion is that steps and the like are a necessary evil; erosion being the unsightly alternative but I quite like the idea of a smooth pavement here, making for a quicker, easier final ascent. To me it`s a means to an end. Generally speaking, the primary interest is to place a radio station on a summit in the most efficient manner permitted by the rules.

PEN-Y-GHENT, G/NP-010, 694m, 4pts, 07:33 to 08:35. 5C, less than 10 mph wind. Hazy sun horizontally with pale blue sky overhead. No lying snow. (LOC: IO84VD – WAB: SD87). Orange (EE) phone coverage.

145.400 FM - 16 QSOs: The time alerted was actually 08:15, so it was not surprising that a CQ on S20 at 07:40 came to nothing. It was fortunate. I had filled out the preliminaries (times/ WX etc) on a Calf Top log sheet and had to start again. On the second attempt Mark G0VOF and a mobile G0LLG/M called in. After working Damian, who gave me 57mobile in Lancaster` I then moved on to Mark.

There followed all the usual chasers who were hearing my 5W signal. Near the end I worked M1CNL - Peter using a colinear in North Warwickshire (59/ 55). The final contact on 2m-FM was M6LCN - Andy using a Yaesu FT7900 and 10 Watts to a Diamond X50 in Lincoln (51/ 52). Thanks for the direct QSL card Andy. I sat in the shelter for the activation which at 40 minutes, was a little slower than I`d hoped for.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO:
In the earlier session, Roy M3RDZ had suggested a quick QSO on 4m so I was more than happy to oblige. There were no other takers which made a QSY off the calling frequency unnecessary.

Descent of NP10:
Even early on, there were a few people on this popular summit. On the way down, I met two ascending Bradford Lads who were looking enquiringly at the tape barrier and then at me. I suggested ducking under it but they were quite disapproving of the new surface being created. I was back at the car for 09:06 and driving away by 09:15, having swapped 2m-QRP for 2m-QRO in readiness for the inferior takeoff offered by Great Coum.

Drive to NP11:
The drive to the dirt road, which leads off the Ingleton to Dent gated-road at White Shaw Moss (SD 7232 8226) took until 10am. During this short journey, the weather had changed out of all recognition. Somewhere near Ingleton, the early promise of a sunny morning was replaced by a thick, dark blanket of fog. Wind-driven mist and a light drizzle greeted me on exiting the car at 10:05 but I didnt bother to add anything over the fleece which soon appeared white with minute water droplets. A red hand-painted notice at the end of the track read:Keep dogs on a lead - Lambs are more frightened of dogs than mint sauce!`

Route to NP11:
A particularly rough section at SD 7176 8224 dismisses any thought of driving an ordinary car up the track, as I have done to my cost in the past. The price? A detached exhaust system and a fractured brake pipe. A new smooth extension to the track gets you as far as SD 7077 8211. A gated wall-stile accesses the open fell at SD 7064 8237. After the gate I go diagonally up the grassy flank, soon losing the faint path, then through a fallen wall to the saddle at SD 7019 8287. Last year I found a useful minor path going from SD 7025 8258; SD 7021 8275; SD 7021 8298; SD 7019 8325 and through a new gated wall stile at SD 7016 8333. You can cut across to the summit from there via SD 70135 83425 or alternatively stay to the right of the wall if the wind is from the west; walking along two sides of a triangle and over a wall stile at SD 7016 8350.

After fighting the weather all the way up, I arrived at the hole in the ground with a small summit cairn that marks the highest point at 10:53. Setting up was done in the lee of the nearby wall seeking refuge from the wind-driven drizzle which was presently increasing through 25 mph.

G/NP-011 GREAT COUM, 687m, 4 pts, 10:53 to 11:40, 4 Deg.C, 25 mph wind increasing. Low-cloud. Drizzle. No lying snow. No walkers. Orange (EE) phone coverage from all parts of the route. LOC: IO84SF - WAB: SD78.

145.400? FM - 23 QSOs: After setting up the J-Pole in the wall top and connecting the Kenwood TM702-T, 2m/ 70cm Mobile rig; a 25 Watt CQ was put out on S20 at 11:00. The memory is a bit hazy but I think we started on 145.400 which I carefully checked before and after aCQ SOTA` on S20. At first things went well but after a short while and for some minutes there was utter confusion. Someone was attempting to make specific contact on what was now our frequency. The chasers tried to move the offending station to no avail at first.

Eventually after the problem went away, the chasers came through and were logged. I worked Kevin in Gargrave without really recognising his once familiar M0XLT callsign until 24 hours later. My excuse is that I was under pressure from the weather and the QRM. also, the log was getting wet from water droplets coming through the wall and from my antenna, making it difficult to write legibly. Simon M1AVV/M called in from Walney Island. As far as SOTA QSO`s are concerned, Simon and I go back a long way. We had a single memorable SOTA QSO spanning two years 2004-2005 when I was on Nine Standards Rigg (NP18) for New Year.

By 11:32 the QRG had dried up with no further QSO`s even after recourse to 145.500 but Roy M3RDZ once again reminded me to QSY to 4m-FM.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO:
The IC-E90 was duly dug out of the rucksacks side pocket. Using 5 Watts to the 2m rubber duck with welding rod extension Roy M3RDZ in Burnley, who was heard but could not be worked from here last December, was easily logged on this occasion with a 59/ 57 exchange. I tried but there were no further takers. I have no idea what went wrong last time but perhaps the rod extension wasnt making proper contact.

Descent of NP11:
An unpleasantly wet and wind-chilled descent got me back to the car for 12:24. A strengthening westerly wind impinging on a forehead wet with drizzle makes for sustained heat loss which gave me a headache. That situation was to be repeated more severely on NP4 later on.

Drive to NP4:
It is only necessary to drive 450m south along the road to reach the parking place for Whernside. Before that I had lunch in the nice dry car which was really appreciated on a day like this. I normally use the driving time between summits to eat my lunch and rarely get time to just relax. Today with just three 2m-FM activations, there was sufficient time to sit still without jeopardising the prospect of getting back to Scarborough in time for tea.

An old coat, which I had brought to wrap around me on the journey in the absence of a working car heater, was pressed into service for the next summit. It is well lined, has a deployable hood and as long as you dont stay out in driving rain for hours, is still capable of turning a drop or two of water. I could have utilised my best Goretex but the thought of added work for the sake of the final summit, put me off the idea. Yes, its quite simple to pull the clothing from the rucksack then get it soaked and sweaty but reversing that action is a significant process. Its a bit like the entropy of the universe. It naturally increases and its hard to reverse!

On reaching home, after it had done a sterling job for me, the old coat just got slung back where it came from; in the garage. NFA! It`ll be dry next time I need it - probably for fixing the car heater. For the same reason, as this was the last summit, I relied on quick drying walking trousers.

Route to NP4:
The Whernside path starts from a gate SD 7216 8177 on the four-gated Ingleton to Dent Road, which is west of NP4. The first obstacle is a beck but it`s not usually deep. Only 2km of walking with a height gain of 280m is required. Waypoints are as follows: SD 7244 8173, dog-leg right at SD 7310 8163 then SD 7316 8150 and up a steep section at SD 7354 8143. Start time at the gate for the ascent was 12:45.

All of todays SOTA targets were selected as a result of a poor weather forecast on the basis that they all had substantial dry-stone walls at their summits. The wind speed had seen a further increase since NP11 and I was grateful to whoever built Whernside's solid wall. In twelve winters of SOTA activating I have experienced much worse but that didnt make it pleasant. However, it mattered little with one band/ one mode on the final SOTA of the day. In fact it was much more; the final summit of winter 2013-14.

G/NP-004 WHERNSIDE, 736m, 13:17 to 13:58. 5 Deg C. 40 mph wind. Low-cloud. Light rain. No lying snow. WAB: SD78. IO84TF. For reasons unknown, the Orange phone signal was absent today.

145.400 FM - 13 QSO`s:
Before starting someone sat down for lunch ten yards along the wall. I had to shout to be heard over the wind but we had a brief conversation about the weather (what else?)

As per NP10 in the morning, the station consisted of the IC-E90 with the vertical half-wave wedged in the top of the wall. First in was Alex - G0WUY in York. Walt G6XBF was on the ball with a 59 RS from North Leeds. After Walt, Gareth G1DRG (York) then Tony & Sara M3/6NHA. After these: M3RDZ; M0MDA; G6ODU; G4UXH; G4JNN; G0VOF/M; 2E0EEY and G4ZRP. The soggy log was completed in 10 minutes and for once, due to the WX, I didn`t bother re-trawling S20 before QSYing to 4m.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO:
For the third and final time today, Roy M3RDZ and I produced a half a minute`s worth of activity on 4m. Afterwards, I heard nothing further.

Final Descent:
This was unpleasant and directly into the westerly rain laden wind. Despite a hat, coat, hood and one gloved hand shielding the face, another severe headache developed. A balaclava would have been the thing (but we won`t dwell on the Crimea just at present.)

The one good thing about climbing Whernside from the west is that the descent is quick. Apart from a short, steep section of broken rocks by the wall on the steep section half way down, the path is reasonable though boggy in places. In fact the rough bit can be skirted to the south by means of a faint quad track at around SD 7306 8160. The beck and gate were soon in sight through the fog, followed by the car less than a minute later. The time at the road was 14:19 and thankfully the winter`s work was finally done.

The Drive Home:
It all went sadly wrong; time and miles being wasted. I could blame the second hand satnav, database if which is out of date concerning the now defunct A684/ A1 junction but it was mostly my fault. The one thing I wanted to avoid was Yorks northern bypass at rush hour. The device, with a seemingly iron will, gradually drew me in. I should have changed the setting toshortest distancerather thanquickestand stopped to study the map properly. Ironically I have a new Garmin NUVI 2597 but wont leave it in the car to get stolen.

Indecision reigned supreme from the start. After two three-point turns in the road at the bottom of Whernside I ended up going down to Ingleton then up to Hawes. An attempt to skirt Thirsk to the south turned into the above debacle and I ended up driving through small places like Cundall towards Easingwold and then down to York. After queuing on the bypass I managed to escape its clutches via Towthorpe and the A64. At the times I usually drive to and from SOTA`s, I am not used to competition on the roads.

It took from 14:26 to 17:37 to get home and I covered 122 miles against 113 miles via Settle, Skipton, Harrogate, York and A64. It was only 9 miles extra but what a lot of stress and time wasted. One good thing though. I was still home in time for tea and not on the stroke of midnight as had been the case for the 7x LD escapade three days prior.

Ascent/ Distance:
NP10 - Pen-y-Ghent: 270m/ 5.5 km (3.4 miles).
NP11 - Gt.Coum: 244m/ 8.1km (5.1 miles).
NP04 - Whernside: 280m/ 4.2km (2.6 miles).
Total: 794m (2,605 ft)/ 17.8 km (11.1 miles).

Walking Times:
NP10 - Pen-y-Ghent: 35min up -31min down.
NP11- Gt.Coum: 48min up - 44min down.
NP04- Whernside: 32min up - 21min down (road gate).
Added: 1hr-55min of ascent/ 1hr-36min of descent.
Total: 3hr-31min at 3.2 mph average.

QSO`s (2m-FM):
NP10: 17 (inc one on 4m-FM)
NP11: 24 (inc one on 4m-FM)
NP04: 14 (inc one on 4m-FM)
Total: 55

23 SOTA points.
243 miles were driven in the day.

Though I dont mind repeating them year on year, these three summits along with the majority of NPs and LDs in the 2 to 10 point range have become routine. I always take a GPS for recording a confirmation track and indicating distances to targets but unless its foggy and/ or Im walking in darkness, or theres a snow covering (non to speak of this winter) it is not really needed.

The simple 2m-FM approach (apart from a couple of activations) has been utterly liberating for me this winter. Multi-band & mode HF/ QRO is three times harder but I do have a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I am letting chasers down compared with wider coverage offered in the past. That said, a return to HF should be forthcoming in the summer when I allow myself the luxury of one summit in one day.

As far as the current Winter Bonus is concerned, this activation was my last. I had to attend a family function on the 15th in Leeds so could not activate again. In comparison to Tuesdays efforts and despite poor weather, it was an easy day but I still somehow managed to rack up 11,000 feet of ascent and 31 miles in the two outings this week. You would think that sleep would come easily but the psychology involved in this weeks activations together with the lighter mornings, all but stopped any meaningful rest from Monday through to Saturday.

Enthusiasm; over abundant in youth, has all but deserted me nowadays but one thing I am just about hanging on to is a dogged determination to see activations through no matter how uncomfortable it becomes.

From a personal perspective, sunshine and heat remain the greatest challenges but because of the appallingly wet weather this time around, 28 winter bonus activations have had to be crammed into the first half of December and the final three and a half weeks of the bonus period. The scoreline shows it and apart from 2 or 3 days (which I blinked and missed out on) ten valuable bonus weeks were completely written off mainly because I am not close enough to mountains to pick them off singly in any available couple of hours. Let`s hope we get a better deal next winter!

Summary of Winter Bonus Period 2013-14:
Summits Activated: 28
Number of activating days: 7
Average Activations per day: 4
Max. Activations per day: 7
Activator Points: 122
Winter Bonus Points: 84
Total Points: 206
(NP, SP & LD regions only).

Total Ascent: 8,363m (27,437ft)
Total Distance Walked: 146km (91 miles)
Total Distance Driven: 2,710km (1,694 miles)

Rigs Used:
Kenwood TM702-T; 25 Watt 2m/ 70cm Mobile - 11 summits.
Icom IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) H/H for 2m-FM - 13 summits.
Yaesu VX150 2m Band VHFM, 5W H/H - 2 summits.
IC706-2G 100W MF-HF-VHF-UHF Multimode - 4 summits.
Xiegu Technology X1M 5-Band CW/ SSB HF-QRP - 1 summit.

Bands other than 2m-FM:
160m: 2 summits.
80m: 1 summit.
40m: 2 summits.
4m-FM: 7 summits.

Thanks to all stations worked and to G0VOF; G4WHA; M6VGU and M6NHA for spotting.

Generally the enthusiasm, patience, support and excellence of chaser operating has eased the burden and minimised summit times. Once again there have been times when a friendly voice on a cold, dark and deserted windswept summit has made all the difference to morale.

Thanks also to my XYL Denise for her tolerance, especially when I phoned her at 6pm on the 11th of March to say I would be doing two more summits and would not be home before midnight.

Thanks also to Roy G4SSH for his support in supplying spots via phone when required and all for scant reward in terms of chaser points from me this winter.

Thanks to the SMT for providing the reflector, database and running the show for us. All done for nothing.

And finally: Thanks to Fiesta R586CYS for her unstinting service and 1,700 miles in seven activating days.

Recent Events:
I enjoyed watching the TX Factor with Toms activation. Crisp pictures covered amateur radio/ SOTA facets well. Karens clear, cultured voice coming out of Toms FT817 really put the icing on it. If this doesnt sell amateur radio and SOTA, I don`t know what can.

We have a family holiday in April. I hope to work some SOTA from EA8 on H-HF bands CW/ SSB, mostly (or all) QRP. Sadly for me, this does mean that I will miss Blackpool Rally this year.

73, John G4YSS
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call).

In reply to G4YSS:

Sadly for me, this does mean that I will miss Blackpool Rally this year.

You’ll be missed by many John. But I know where you are going and what you will try to do for SOTA chasers so that is sufficient to get you out of Blackpool this year!


In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy,

Thanks for your reply. Just noticed it’s about time I responded to your comments. Unfortunately that will put my report back up to the top.

Yes, I will miss meeting the SOTA crowd and the WAB’ers too. It’s always a real pleasure. In fact last year, as I was leaving, I realised I had not bought a thing and that’s without precedent for me at a rally. I was too busy yakkering! Really enjoyed it and Whernside on the way was icing on the cake. However, you will probably see Roy G4SSH & Nick G4OOE. I don’t know about Phil G4OBK.

‘Try’ to do for SOTA is about right. There are plenty of things that can go wrong between then and now and it’s now got as near as the day after tomorrow. I am nervous about getting all the gear through and I am currently over weight by 2kg. Main bands will be 18 & 14 for UK.

Anything could happen but I’ll give it my best shot.

73, John.