G4YSS Activation Report for GM/WS-293, 4th September 2021
Bidhein Bad na h-Iolaire. GM/WS-293 on 40-20m QRO & 2m-FM QRP
GM4YSS/P Unaccompanied. Quick afternoon activation.
All times BST (UTC plus 1hr, UOS)
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver without internal batteries
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier
Link dipole for 80-40-(30)-20m Bands with coils for 160m
Four section x 5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
Reserve Rig: IC-E90 four band 5W VHF H/H (not used)
J-Pole for 2m-FM
One 5Ah Li-Po (part discharged)
Garmin GEKO-301 GPS
9.5kg (21 pounds) inc. 500ml fluids
This was my third activation of this hill who’s name I can by now just about pronounce. It’s only a 5-minute drive from where we were staying for a 10-day holiday at the Highland Hotel in Fort William and it provides good practice when you’re a bit SOTA rusty.
WS-293, though a mere two pointer, is a reasonably demanding climb but one that can be completed in under an hour. There are few paths to help very much, or at least I have yet to find a good one, apart from the one on the final approach. Perhaps that has a lot to do with my habitual start point, which is at the cattle grid on the road going south out of Fort William.
Route and Execution:
I left the car on the grass verge immediately north of the cattle grid at NN 0962 7040 (110m ASL). Setting out at 13:51, I followed my GPS route up the track opposite, which goes in a north-easterly direction. An acceptable approach is to leave this track at NN 0983 7058 and head up the side of the fence to NN 0991 7053. From there it’s cross-country and uphill to NN 1020 7038 where a second track is found to be heading generally in the right direction.
I usually leave this ill-defined grassy track between NN 1075 7081 and NN 1088 7101, to head up for the ridge but decided to abandon it earlier today. It was a steep climb but somehow this departure from the norm, got me up there marginally quicker. Once on the ridge there’s a minor path with a few ups and downs, which goes along to the summit cairn via NN 1129 7069. Just where this path originates is unclear but it might be advantageous to find out. Today’s climb took 54 minutes but it’s very far from the hardest 2-pointer in Scotland.
BIDHEIN BAD na h-IOLAIRE, GM/WS-293, 2 pts, 14:45 to 16:53, 15 deg C, 10mph wind. Cloudy-bright with no low-cloud. WAB-NN17, LOC-IO76KS (No Trig point). Strong Vodafone mobile phone coverage throughout.
A grassy top offers plenty of space for a full sized 80m dipole and today I sat close to the cairn after first admiring great views of Ben Nevis’s westerly aspect some 5km away. The zig-zag tourist path, which goes up the top half of the mountain, is clearly visible to the naked eye.
7.031.5 CW – 2 QSO’s:
With power set to 50 Watts (5 Watts drive into the amp) and a spot via SMS I was disappointed to log only two stations as follows: EI6FR Declan at 599/ 549 and EA2DT Manuel with 559/339. Surely something had got to be wrong but all the controls were set up properly including the output filter on the linear. While I was checking, no less than two stations started calling CQ on my frequency plus another two who had started up a QSO. I gave up.
Switching to SSB I called half a dozen of the contest stations up and down the band but not one heard me. 7.160 was occupied by a DL0 calling ‘CQ Field Day’ so I couldn’t even give the WAB’ers a call. In the end it was discovered that this idiot op had mistakenly left one 80m link connected on the dipole which would make it resonate at around 60m and not the 40m as intended. Of course you don’t see that when you’re working through a linear. The FT817ND says ‘perfect match.’
14.067 CW – 11 QSO’s: With 50 Watts set again, this at least proved I hadn’t blown up the mismatched linear. At least I hope it wasn’t damaged but apart from on the air I have no way of checking. An SMS spot produced badly needed interest in seconds flat: HB9AGH Ambrosi; EA2IF Guru; F4WBN Chris; HA7WA Viktor; UW8SM Andrij; F8DGF Nic; RN3QN Oleg; K4DY Leslie; 9A6CW/P Ramska S2S 9A/DH-043; 9A8RA/P Ante S2S 9A/DH-041and F5IUZ Dautricourt.
The majority of reports were 599 both ways with 559 both ways for Leslie & Ante. 559’s also came back from UW8SM and F5IUZ with a 429 from Ambrosi. Power was 50W (I hope!) and the session took 17 minutes.
1.832 CW/ 1.846 SSB – Nil:
Why bother? I simply had to try Top Band but despite a self-spot there was nothing to show for it. I would have been shocked to get a QSO on 160 considering the time of day and local topography but nothing ventured as they say.
145.400 FM – 1 QSO:
With a few minutes to spare at the end I put out a CQ on S20 and was very happy to receive a call back from Robin GM7PKT, just a few miles away near Corran Ferry. He told me that he hadn’t done much lately, meaning SOTA. He’s not the only one.
Robin was able to fill me in regarding some of the local SOTA’s and of course Ben Nevis was discussed following MM6GYU’s recent visit there and all the rubbish Dave found. He also explained the ins and outs of APRS to me and it seems that it would be good to have it as a safely system should one get lost etc.
Working conditions were the FT817ND and 5W to a J-Pole at the summit cairn. Robin was 59++ to me with a 55 report coming back and he was using a dipole. Despite our delayed handovers and a few invitations, no other stations called in.
Unlike the climb up, there were no detours on the way down. With no path available much of the way, care was needed on the steep tussocky ground. I followed the route marked in 2015 and described above, which took 35 minutes to 17:28. With just a 5-minute drive to the accommodation I was back in good time for evening meal at 18:15.
2 on 40m CW
11 on 20m CW
1 on 2m-FM
Ascent & distance: 420m (1,378ft) / 5.1km (3.2 miles). Start point 110m ASL.
Times: Up: 54min. Down: 35min. Summit time: 2hrs-8min. Gross time: 3hr-37min.
WS293 was ideal today as a bit of training and an afternoon out in pleasant surroundings and weather. I walked through bracken in places so there is a tick risk. The extractors are in the first aid kit!
Along with the chances for 40m band chasers, thirty minutes were thrown away due to lack of care changing the dipole links. I just hope my linear is still working.
20m CW added a bit of excitement but unfortunately my Morse abilities have receded somewhat due to lack of practice. My son Phil text to say he listened to this session and recorded it using a receiver in Andorra. Listening to it I seemed a bit slow but that was mainly due to stations calling on top of one another – not their fault I might add, as they can’t all hear one another. It also looks like I might have missed out on an A5 station. There was no SSB in my log mainly because of the time lost and the field day contest on the HF phone bands.
The cricket test match kept me entertained on both walks but as it stands I think India will win this one. The sight of Ben Nevis both inspired and daunted me in equal measure. There were plenty of grazing sheep but wild life was limited to two grouse that flew away noisily. Red or black? Couldn’t tell due to mild colour blindness.
Thanks to all stations worked and to GM7PKT for spotting me on 2m. Also for the SMS spotting service which is wonderful when the phone has a signal. Thanks to Phil G0UUU for recording the 20m-CW session.
73, John G(M)4YSS,
Apologies for poor quality due to dim light on arrival.
Above: XYL’s car at the cattle grid, NN 0962 7040
Above: Leave the road to go up this track opposite
Above: Looking back to the start.
Above: View towards Fort William
Above: All the hard work is done. The final part of the ridge path with summit ahead and Ben Nevis behind
Above: The compact summit cairn of GM/WS-293
Above: Activation of GM/WS-293 on HF
Above: Lower part of the Ben Nevis ‘tourist’ route as seen from WS293
Above: Upper part of the Ben Nevis ‘tourist’ route as seen from WS293
Above: FT817ND with CW keying toggle & MX-P50M combination on WS293.
Answering the replies to my GM/WS-293 report of 2015 – better late than never!
G8ADD: Just a small correction, John: it is Bidhean Bad na h-Iolaire, pronounced something like Bijan Bad na Hilary (apologies to all Gaels!) Never set foot on it myself, it looks like more of a penance than a pleasure though it looks good with snow on it! Brian.
THANKS BRIAN, I NEVER COULD QUITE GET MY TONGUE AROUND IT BUT I CAN PRACTICE NOW.
How is your pole coloured red and white? just paint?
HELLO STEVE. YES, IT’S JUST RED AND WHITE CELLULOSE PAINT. EASY TO SEE ON SNOW AND FOR LOW-FLYING AIRCRAFT HI.
Sorry that these replies to replies are 6 years late!