G4YSS (GO0OOO/P) Activation of G/LD-024, 09-Sept 2012
PIKE of BLISCO - G/LD-024-6
G4YSS - John (Using SSEG Olympic Callsign GO0OOO/P.)
Multiband: 160-40-20-4-2m & 70cm. Accompanied.
All times BST (UTC + 1) on 09-09-12 UOS.
MF / HF / VHFM QRO: IC706-2G.
Link dipole with loading coils for 160m.
5m CFC Mast with 1m end supports.
11V, 13.2 Ah Li-Po battery (3 x 4.5 Ah).
VHFM QRP: IC-E90 4-Band VHF H/H.
Home-brew half-wave vertical J-Pole for 2 (& 70cm) FM.
Home-brew choked half-wave vertical for 4 FM.
2m SOTA Beam (Not used)
The main purpose of this excercise was to air the SSEG special club callsign GO0OOO on its final day in celebration of the London Olympic Games and from a single SOTA summit. The secondary aim was to offer LD24 on 160m for the first time.
The plan was for my companions; William with his spaniel dog Jess and his friend Prasanna (new to our ‘club’) to complete the round of LD24 followed by Crinkle Crags and Bowfell. Though it would have been nice to walk with them and activate these two HuMPS (WOTA’s) on the way, the desire was for maximum radio time with the minimum of walking. Today’s rucksack was heavy and the WX was warm.
A comedy of errors, caused by my incorrect interpretation of text messages from Will, combined with the weather, resulted in this expedition being carried out on a Sunday, which is something I almost never do these days.
From the Old Dungeon Hotel car park at NY 2864 0613 (96m ASL) the way goes initially up the tarmac and past Wall End Farm then right onto a path at NY 2860 0520. In fact we were so busy talking that we completely missed this waypoint in mist and finished up turning off right onto a lesser path at NY 2893 0510. This joined the intended route at NY 2832 0470 after passing through wet bracken via NY 28695 04948; NY 28625 04775 and NY 28412 04730, so nothing lost apart from damp trousers. In fact something was gained. If we hadn’t ‘gone wrong’ we would have been in the low-cloud and not in the sunshine above it, thereby missing out on a sighting of a weak but discernable Brocken Spectre.
From the junction a paved way brings you steeply up via NY 2819 0458; NY 2795 0426 and NY 2746 0422 to a series of cairns starting at NY 2737 0417. The path then zigs around to gain the well guarded summit via some minor but awkward rock gullies. ‘Awkward?’ This was discovered on the descent in the afternoon with masts and other items tied to the rucksack.
We usually do Blisco from the Three Shire Stone on Wrynose Pass but that start point would have made it less convenient for the others to complete their round via Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.
Will and I left Scarborough on Sunday morning at 03:15 for the 165 mile drive our start point; The Old Dungeon Gill Hotel, arriving at 06:50. We picked Prasanna up on New Bridge at Whitby at 04:00.
There was an unexpected treat on the way to Whitby. William offered a detour through Scarborough town centre at 03:30 to observe revellers. There were still quite a few remaining. This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to observe these interesting creatures with their unmistakable style of walking and in their natural environment, since I was one around 1967. It was quite an eye opener made all the more enjoyable from the comfort and safety of a locked vehicle. Apprehension gave way to relief as we cleared the area without having our windscreen wipers rearranged, as per a safari park visit made by some friends of mine a few years ago.
The elapsed time for the ascent, which was started at 07:07 today, was 1hr-50 minutes with a route distance of 4.1 km. The height gain required, allowing for an estimated 12m reascent on the way up, is a surprising 621m (2,037ft) which, added to the route finding difficulties, probably accounts for the slow time. Blue sky, low sun and cloud lying in the valleys provided the observed Brocken Spectre conditions and some time was spent with photography. Langdale Pikes looked magnificent across the valley with the cloud sheet below.
PIKE OF BLISCO, G/LD-024, 705m, 6 pts, 09:17 to 15:18. 12 deg.C, 15-20 mph wind, sunny until late morning then overcast. Spots of rain later but no low-cloud. LOC: IO84KQ, WAB NY20. Orange phone coverage.
As per 2007, the station was set up on the lip of a grassy rock-strewn promontory (NY 2717 0419) 70m east of the summit on arrival at 09:17; only 13 minutes prior to the announced QRV time of 08:30z. This area is just sufficiently large to take an 80m dipole.
Before long, the others summited. Prasanna took out his flask and began to tuck into a pot noodle aided by Will’s pocket knife, which stood in for a forgotten spoon. Somewhat delayed by photos, the station was deployed and set up for 160m operation but then there was a further delay caused by yet another break in the dipole wire. This is an ongoing problem which I hope has been solved in the regular dipole. Unfortunately, today’s aerial was the spare and this has not yet been strengthened. A ‘bodging kit’ containing random bits of wire with various crimped ends, enabled the 160m session to go ahead albeit now some 40 minutes late. As on the last activation, an RF burn to the thumb had been a result of the mismatch.
1.832 CW - 2 QSO’s:
I knew Mark G0VOF was planned to appear from Pendle Hill with Top Band QRP. The hope was that we could complete a rare S2S on 1.832 CW. Mark’s primary purpose was to take part in this weekend’s UHF fun weekend so it was a real bonus that he was found on 160m after such a delay. We worked successfully; Mark’s signal producing a reading of S6 on my meter and he giving my 100 Watts 599. The distance was 82 km (SE) and the path is largely clear. Low noise at both ends made it very easy.
A phone call to Roy G4SSH, which could not be made from the operating position a couple of metres down the east side, resulted in a spot being seen by George at GI4SRQ. After minor difficulty caused by QSB, we exchanged at 09:29z with 559 / 429 reports. Further CQ’s failed to have an effect but I later gathered via Frank G3RMD that my late QRV had cause some confusion. It was probably academic and would have made little difference whether daylight had been established for three hours or four hours.
7.031; 7.022; 7.034 CW - 21 QSO’s:
With the output set to 40 Watts and 100 Watts for Roy G4SSH (too close), 21 entities were logged as follows: G; DL; MW; OK; HB9 and PA. The first station worked was M0TUB/P Dave S2S on Pen-y-Ghent (G/NP-010) and there were what I thought might have been further S2S’s later; viz: Hans DL6UHA/P who sent something like ‘DA/ND013’ and Wil PA3Q/P with ‘PAFF8.’ (Roy G4SSH tells me that these are German Mountain Award and Flora & Fauna refs respectively). 50% of the stations worked were UK based.
I was listening on the H/H on 145.500 for Phil G4OBK on LD8 but was forced to switch the rig off when it became too distracting to read CW on 40m. For some reason the QSO rate was well below par for this session.
145.300 FM - 2 QSO’s: (more later)
Using 5W to a vertical, G4UXH/P Colin and Heather M6UXH both S2S’s on LDW-057.
7.128 SSB - 25 QSO’s:
Phone a spot via Roy and a 100W CQ brought in M0BKV Damian. Once established on the new frequency with the power reduced to 50W, calls came thick and fast. Apologies to those who don’t like lists but that was the style of operating until the pileup thinned out near the end. At one stage at around 11:00z, I was working 10 stations in 5 minutes and the ratio was 70/30 in favour of UK stations. There were two S2S’s as follows: Helen M0YHB/P on G/SC-013 and Lutz DL3SBA/P on DM/NW-181.
145.425 / 145.525 FM - 2 QSO’s: (more later)
Again two stations were worked with 5W to the half wave vertical from the IC-E90 but this time both were S2S’s as follows: Mike 2E0YYY/P on G/NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent and Derek 2E0MIX/P on HuMP HLD-044 / WOTA LDW-002 Scafell.
14.333 SSB - 8 QSO’s:
With another phone a spot with G4SSH it was quick and easy to establish on 20m with 80 Watts. Without the spot I could have called up here for an hour without attracting a single SOTA chaser. The reason for this QRG choice was that the Worked all Europe contest stations were not allowed to call between 14.3 and 14.35 MHz. There were other useful gaps on this and other HF bands which I endeavoured to commit to memory the day before.
Roy’s spot must have been seen quickly by someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Tom working as SM/N2YTF and operating top notch Swedish club station SK0TM, picked up the CQ immediately. Tom had come on Holiday with the purpose of working SOTA activators which he couldn’t hear in the USA. Neither had he enjoyed much success at this side of the pond up to now but sounded delighted to have logged a mountain. I asked him why SOTA interested him in particular and he went on to explain that he was a SOTA manager for the W1 region in the USA. This was a short but very friendly QSO and I didn’t miss the opportunity to acknowledge all the effort he must have put in to catalogue large numbers summits in his area.
After Tom came HB9AGH; a station who has supported many of my activations. Ambrosi has good English but I rarely hear his voice. Though CW is quicker and more readable in marginal conditions, SSB (or FM for that matter) is a good way to get to know people that little bit better. The 20m SSB log also shows: SP8RHB Robert; OM1AX Vlad; EA2DT; SP6BBE; AE4FZ (57/44) and HB9CMI Peter. No amount of CQ’ing would add to these eight so I gave up HF altogether at 12:28z in favour of 2m-FM.
145.575 - 1 QSO (more later):
At 12:35z Mark GO0VOF was heard operating from Pendle Hill on here. I couldn’t resist calling in to say hello and ask how his earlier 160m activation of the summit had gone. With just 5 Watts Mark had done twice as well as the two QSO’s I’d managed with 100W. 4 QSO’s is probably better than average for 160m daylight ops. Mark had two CW and two SSB contacts with unique stations in his 160m log. I was not in the best position for VHF so had to decline Mark’s offer of an announcement of a QSY freq for the chasers. Because of the desire for wind shelter, the HF station was currently not set up at the highest point. It needed to be relocated to the summit proper before thinking of an extended VHF session.
Location, location, location:
Apart from daytime 160m groundwave ops which had been adequate, the HF operating point on a summit is not critical. For VHF it’s best to be right on the top if possible. There was a lot of gear to be packed away and the task of removing the HF equipment and setting up a VHF station 50m away at the south summit, ate up half an hour. Whilst chatting to a couple who were there, I set up a short mast for 2m and made ready the 4m vertical and both rigs. I didn’t much like what I was seeing to the southwest - an angry sky and accelerating wind, so hoped I wouldn’t be there for too long. Many of the other activators were soon reporting the onset of expected deteriorating weather conditions.
145.425 & 145.550 FM - 28 QSO’s:
Before migrating to this frequency I worked two S2S’s on 145.425. This was Geoff’s frequency and he was caling ‘CQ G6MZX/P’ from Gt.Knoutberry G/NP-015. After our QSO, Andy G0FMF/P QSK’d to ask Geoff if he could have a quick S2S with me. ‘No problem’ replied Geoff and the deed was soon done. Yet another S2S. Andy was heading a Scottish ‘invasion’ (HI) of Blencathra G/LD-008.
This was a brilliant start to final ‘festivities’ on the local band but there were more summits to come: Terry G0VWP/P on LDW-009, Neil and Karen 2E0TDX/P and 2E0XYL/P on LDW-034 (Green Gable and on their way to Great Gable); Chris M0RSF/P on G/NP-004 Whernside; Colin & Heather G4UXH and M6UXH on Scafell HuMP HLD-044 / WOTA LDW-002. Surely that would be the last but then came Liz MO6EPW/P on LDW-162 followed by Glenn G6HFF/P on Winter Hill G/SP-010. The final QSO on 2m was also an S2S with LDW-057 Slightside where Derek 2E0MIX/P was now in charge.
Phil G4OBK was worked whilst on his way up to Skiddaw Little Man where we hoped to repeat the QSO. I somehow missed him probably by QSY’ing to 4m too early and I was all packed up and under pressure to walk off by the time he got to LD4 which was a real shame.
Fixed and mobile stations worked on 2FM consisted of: GM4WHA Geoff; G1OHH (Sue had failed to get a QSO on 40m SSB); G4BLH Mike; MO0XSD Colin; G0MZZ Tony; MM1MPB Mark in Annan; GO6ODU Bob; M6BLV John; M6VGW Kevin; G0TDM John; M3RDZ Roy; G4JNN Paul; G6YGJ Bob; GW1CJJ Phil; M1AVV Simon and finally M0SCU Stuart.
With no power worries and a handheld in reserve, 40 and later 50 Watts were used for these QSO’s. By the end the battery was almost on it’s last legs. (Total 2m-FM QSO’s: 33)
70.425 FM - 3 QSO’s:
Using the IC-E90 4-band handie with 3 Watts to my home-brew half-wave vertical, the following local stations were logged with good reports: G4BLH Mike - nr Nelson; MW0IML/M Barry parked at 1000ft ASL and finally M3RDZ Roy - Burnley. I asked Mike if he would give me a QSO on 70cm and he replied that he’d listen.
433.475 FM - 2 QSO’s:
Using the IC-E90 4-band handie with 5 Watts, as arranged with Mike G4BLH earlier, I called him on SU20. I was supposed to have connected the 2m half-wave J-Pole to the rig but when Mike didn’t come back in 5 minutes I began to investigate. I still had the 4m antenna connected. Furthermore it was laid on the rocks without its whip. Once this was rectified Mike gave me 52 which compared with 58 on 4m with similar power but a better antenna. The 2m J-Pole is being asked to work as a three lambda by two on 70cm. I think the VSWR is quite good at around 1.7:1 but it’s likely to be ‘spraying’ a bad pattern. The best that can be said is that it gets you on the band.
At 14:09z, just as I was about to switch off, GO0HRT Rob called in from Southport for the final QSO of the day with 54/55 reports.
I had been on the summit for six hours. Will had called me on the phone over 45 minutes before. They were half way down from Three Tarns at that point and though they intended having a beer in the Old Dungeon Hotel afterwards, I had little time to spare.
I made a big pile of mast sections, SOTA Beam, VHF Verticals, end sticks, poles and even an umbrella. Two strong bungies ‘captured’ this lot. It was slung on the rucksack and a rapid retreat made under an angry western sky. The overweight hardware caught on every obstruction possible in the rock gullies and almost forced me off into space at one point but at least the weather was benign on this side of the hill.
This time the proper route was adhered to just by keeping to the main path which brings you to the road at NY 2860 0520. It took exactly an hour to regain the car park by 16:18 BST. Fortunately my companions were still enjoying their drinks.
A little more was revealed about Prasanna who is a doctor. He is of Sri Lankan extraction but lived in Aberdeen for about 20 years whence he climbed no less than 167 Munros - the last over 15 years ago! Will had given up after Crinkle Crags but Prasanna had pressed on to Bow Fell; climbed it in cloud and caught Will up on his descent of The Band in about an hour. Now we know why he is so sprightly but it must also help that he is somewhat younger than both of us and has a better waistline.
One final thing both amused and amazed us. I had noticed at an early stage that Prasanna’s walking boots were like nothing I’d ever seen. Further investigation revealed that they were not walking boots at all but industrial footwear - a kind of cross between a boot and a shoe but with internal steel toecaps! Yes, Prasanna really had walked close to nine miles and climbed 3,850 feet in a £20 pair of Earthworks Totectors!!! No wonder he was complaining of sore toes.
After the beers, I had been appointed as driver for the return and off we set for Scarborough at 16:53, driving via Whitby and arriving at 20:30. This must have been premeditated and I did wonder why Will’s wife Julie had phoned in the week to ask about accidents, driving convictions and the date I’d passed my test.
LD24 - Pike of Blisco: 621m (2,037ft) ascent / 4.1km up and 3.5 km down. Total: 7.6km (4.8 miles)
Distance driven: 330 miles.
Battery utilisation: 11V, 13.2 Ah Li-Po - 99% used.
Pack weight: 14 kg.
160m CW: 2
40m CW: 21
40m SSB: 25
20m SSB: 8
2m FM: 33
4m FM: 3
70cm FM: 2
S2S’s: 21 ( /P omitted)
160m CW: GO0VOF Mark on G/SP-005.
40m CW: M0TUB Dave on G/NP-010 and Hans DL6UHA on DA/ND-013 (German Mtn. Award)
40m SSB: M0YHB Helen on G/SC-013 and Lutz DL3SBA on DM/NW-181.
G4UXH Colin on LDW-057
M6UXH Heather on LDW-057
2E0YYY Mike on G/NP-010
2E0MIX Derek on HLD-044 / LDW-002 (Scafell)
GO0VOF Mark on G/SP-005
G6MZX Geoff on G/NP-015
G0FMF Andy on G/LD-008
G0VWP Terry on LDW-009
2E0TDX Neil on LDW-034
2E0XYL Karen on LDW-034
M0RSF on G/NP-004
G4UXH Colin on HLD-044 / LDW-002 (Scafell)
M6UXH Heather on HLD-044 / LDW-002 (Scafell)
MO6EPW Liz on LDW-162
G6HFF Glenn on G/SP-010
2E0MIX Derek on LDW-057
PA3Q/P Wil - PAFF8 (Flora & Fauna)
The windspeed was forecast to increase to 50 mph gusts with rain in the late afternoon. Luckily, despite a threatening sky, this did not arrive until after we left.
The rocky Pike of Blisco is not the best of places to erect a dipole though there are much worse. Along the NE facing side, just off the summit was a compromise position which I fear when added to the delayed QRV time, may have cost the Dublin stations a Top Band QSO due to a combination of screening versus their noise levels. That said, I did work Northern Ireland. G3RMD in Cheltenham missed the chance of a QSO because of timing but the chances of success might have been below 20% at that time of day. Some of the other regulars may have had to go out before I could get on the air but the aim of opening a 160m QSO column for LD24 in SOTAwatch was fulfilled.
The Pendle Hill S2S with Mark GO0VOF was not affected by screening and was one of the easier 160m daytime QSO’s. It may have been the third or fourth 160m SOTA S2S ‘since records began.’ I tried CQ’ing for a while on 1.832 with no result then changed to 1.843 SSB for a couple of calls without any expectation and without a spot. The latter was a stillborn token effort.
40m has been working intermittently for inter-G contacts. Today it was ‘adequate’ but not at its best and neither was 20m though one 20m SSB QSO was with area 4 in the USA.
2m FM did sterling work and having avoided Sundays since I retired in 2005, I have completely forgotten just how crowded the band can be and how many summits were on the air. I don’t think that I have ever logged so many S2S’s in one day even from multiple summits. SOTA really is having a major impact on 2m band activity which can only be good for a potentially ‘use it or lose it’ hobby. I would like to see more SSB and CW activity on 2m but that’s coming from someone who hardly ever offers it.
I was aware that this was UHF fun weekend but my pathetic approach to it only rendered me two QSO’s on 70cm and these were the final ones of the day. I did output one ot two CQ’s on 433.5 throughout the day but the aerial used was optimal on 2m and partially screened for most of the morning. Also I used just 5 Watts. If I’d been serious about it I could have mustered 20W of FM or even SSB from the IC706 and relocated to the high point earlier but you can’t fit everything in and I couldn’t have easily carried a beam up.
THANKS FOR ALL S2S’s, TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting: G4SSH; DL6KVA; M0BKV; M0UKD; MM1MPB and G4BLH. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for valuable liaison mobile phone.
73, John G4YSS.
Using GO0OOO/P in celebration of the London Olympic Games 2012.