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G4YSS:GW/NW1 & NW8 (SNOWDON-LLIWEDD-160m) 18-04-09

G4YSS Activation Report: GW/NW-001 & GW/NW-008 on 18-Apr-09.
(SNOWDON & Y LLIWEDD with 160m QRO.)
G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P.
Unaccompanied from Pen-Y-Pass.
Bands: 80m, 160m, 2m, 4m.
All times BST (UTC plus 1) unless otherwise stated.

Once again a 5-day conference in Llandudno with my XYL & her friend was the trigger for this SOTA activity. It represented the fifth G4YSS / GC0OOO expedition to NW1 and the third to NW8. This was part of a natural progression from 2m FM QRP in 2002 through HF QRP in 2008 and now HF QRO in 2009. As per 2008, the 160m and 80m bands would be the main targets but this time with higher power available. The plan, if time allowed, was to add Y Lliwedd with the intention of introducing it on 80 and 160 for the first time.

Many of the big Welsh mountains still have poor records for activation on HF/LF. Some have never been heard on 40m or 80m. The vast majority of Snowdon’s SOTA QSOs have taken place on the 2m band. For Y Lliwedd the March 2009 HF totals were far sparser. The only HF activity recorded for NW8 took place on the ‘exclusive’ 60m band with just 17 QSOs from a total of 547. The rest were on VHF & UHF with nary a ‘squeak’ on 80, 40, 30 or 160. Lasts year’s efforts on 80/40/160 had improved Snowdon’s HF figures but with snow & ice on the steep slopes leading to Lliwedd, a 5-hour stay on Snowdon was as far as it went for me on 27-March-08.

Why such little LF activity?
In Snowdon’s case, it’s obvious. The summit ‘layout’ is barely suitable for a 40 metre long piece of wire. It is high, often wild & misty but perhaps most of all, there are usually masses of people crammed onto this very small (in SOTA terms) but hugely popular top. When it’s working, the mountain railway adds considerably to the congestion problem.

A glance at the map (bearing in mind the 25m activation rule) shows a roughly triangular area with sides of the order of 100m or less. This small, exposed pyramid slopes steeply down in every direction. Manufactured steps serve a plinth-mounted trig-point from 2 directions. The rock-strewn surface, not particularly mast or peg friendly in summer, is likely to be frozen solid in winter and the guidelines state that we should avoid placing antennas across paths. There is still some debate as what parts of the railway and new café lie inside the activation area.

Pyg Track again - yawn.
We had been in Llandudno from Tuesday without a sign of suitable WX. Finally the forecast for our last day, Saturday promised reasonable conditions. Since this was going to be a two-summit, one battery HF QRO affair, the route would need to be the most efficient available. I know I’m boring but to my mind the Pyg Track from Pen-y-Pass offers the best option for SOTA activation. The Miners Track, though picturesque in good viz, fails to get to grips with the job in hand until too late and Crib Goch (like Striding Edge on LD3) has ‘delay’ written all over it. There are routes all around NW1 but none (that I know of) which start at 359m ASL! Even so, some 2400ft must still be gained before the first objective is reached. After all Snowdon, though somehow ‘diminished’ by a railway, is over 80% the height of Ben Nevis and HF QRO makes a bit of weight inevitable.

Time and power constraints:
The other problems were time and battery power. I could skip breakfast but in order to get to the evening conference events, we had been forced to book our evening meal for 17:30. The choices were simple. Do both SOTAs on 2m FM, Forfeit NW8 altogether or get up ridiculously early on what was supposed to be a holiday. The WX would be OK so I decided on the latter. I had 8.8 Ah for two-summit QRO on two bands and with two modes. If after that there was any power remaining and if time allowed, the intention was to add 40m CW to the second activation.

Left Llandudno at 03:45 arriving Pen-Y-Pass via the A55, at 04:37 (30 miles). The car park and overspill were over half full but error No1; why did I have to creep around with a torch to pay my £4 parking fee for the day? The GPS had given me a sunrise time of 05:13. Now I realised to my chagrin that the thing had been set to UTC! Luckily there was some slack in the system so I waited until the sky started to lighten a little and set off walking with a solitary sandwich and only 1litre of water to last the day. I’d asked my son Phil to ‘SOTA-alert’ me for 07:45 BST on Top Band. It was 05:20 local. Would I now be late?

Like last year and because of building work at the summit, the notice was still at the car park exit, ‘No trains, no shelter, no café and no facilities.’ Was this still true or just a leftover? At least I had the route to myself. Well almost. A man with two border terriers overtook me before the zig-zags and though there was no lying snow this time, I did notice the odd patch of ice. The effort and discomfort associated with doing these things was present as always but when you reach the railway, you know it will soon end. Snowdon is really popular so arriving at 06:55 BST did not guarantee solitude. A group of three passed by on their way down, though I did have the summit to myself for the first hour at least.

YR WYDDFA (SNOWDON) GW/NW-001, 1085m, 10 pts. 06:55 to 09:18 BST. 0 deg C. 40 mph westerly wind - decreasing. No lying snow or low-cloud. Sunshine and clear skies all day. (LOC: IO73XB, WAB: SH65)

The dipole position:
Last year the aerial was located on the sloping snowy ridge overlooking Glaslyn but a freezing half-gale put me off that today. Looking around I could see that there was adequate space on the slope between the summit and the railway terminus and it was also out of the worst of the wind. This is an inclined and rock-strewn surface with next to no grass, so the job would take time. The first task was to pace it out and work out where to put the mast.

The dipole would have to go overhead two paths but I could see that both had been superceded by newly built and well-surfaced permanent ways up to the trig. Near the end of the activation when the first of the crowds started to arrive, it was plain that it had been a good decision. The antenna remained unmolested throughout. My only complaint was that the wire snagged on every rock and bit of building debris.

160m CW:
After setting the 160m band tuning coil slugs to 5.3 (a little more inductance is required over rock) and grabbing a few photos in the clear conditions it was 07:35 and 10 minutes before the advertised time. Would the chasers by up? I need not have worried; 160m band chasers are keener than most and by 06:38z the first was in the log with 559 both ways. Mike G4BLH was rapidly followed by G0TDM, EI2CL, G3RMD, G0VOF (rare on CW!) & G4CPS. John G4WSX was the last to call in and all except Mike EI2CL who has no trouble with NW1 over a sea path, had collected Mount Snowdon on Top Band for the first time. Power was 80W but it was a help that the dregs of night time conditions were still hanging on some 90 minutes after sunrise. It was also a great help that people were waiting in line to work me. Thank you!

Thick mittens were needed and this slowed down logging and keying. Though I knew for sure the coat would be no more than dead weight later in the day, it was certainly essential at this stage.

80m CW:
Frank G3RMD was waiting on 3.532 and spotted me at 07:06z. After Frank and a handful more, it started to seem a bit like pulling teeth and a few battery-sapping CQs were needed. Just 10 stations in the 80m CW log was a disappointment and it took 21 minutes too. A positive was that despite my 20W signal, overseas ops Dan ON4ON, Mike LA5SAA, Rudy ON4CMT & Laurent F8BBL all made it through as easily as the G’s. High powered CQs at the end produced nothing further but thank you to the ones who did work me on here.

80m SSB:
Surprisingly, compared with CW, over twice as many chasers came through on 3.724 SSB. Reports were good despite ops suffering local noise but again CQs were needed. Much of the reserve battery power I’d ‘pencilled in’ for 40m CW on NW8 later in the day was used up in this session due to powers of 50 to 90W being required for many contacts. At least the QSO rate was better than on 80m CW but with just 8.8 Amp-hrs for two summits & QRO, the plan to offer a ‘new one’ to more of the European chasers in the afternoon died with this session. The final QSO was with Luc ON6DSL at 08:00z.

To be honest, I was mildly disappointed not just by the total number (38) but more the rate of QSOs. 80m QRN had been partly to blame but perhaps 7am to 9am on a Saturday morning was a little too early for those who have to work all week for a living. Possibly it was just conditions that prevented many from hearing anything from NW1.

New Café:
After inspecting the new café, really a visitor centre, it was time to get on the trail for Lliwedd. The building looks very well constructed and though it’s an unusual shape the stonework is attractive. On the southern gable are various engravings: Hafod Eryri which is the name of the visitor centre. Cop’r Wyddfa just means Snowdon’s summit and the height is given as 1085m. ‘Yr ydych chwi yma’ means nothing to this Englishman but the words’ ‘Here, You Are Nearer to Heaven’ seemed quite inspiring. If a building really must be put on a mountaintop, this one blends in reasonably sympathetically with its surroundings.

Route to NW8:
The way off Snowdon is via the SW shoulder but only for a couple of hundred metres. A stone monolith stands at the point (SH 6087 5420) where a steep, loose and rough path begins its descent to Bwylch y Seathau (The Pass of Arrows). Here at SH 6195 5370 and at around 774m the Watkin Path drops away to the south and Y Lliwedd is straight on. The climb up to NW8 is mildly reminiscent of the one from Black Sail Pass to Pillar or the path up Tryfan from the south. There are a few choices but the cairn-marked way is reasonably easy to follow if a little ‘scrambly’ in places.

Y-LLIWEDD, GW/NW-008, 898m, 8 pts, 10:23 to 14:17 BST. 10 deg C. 15 mph westerly wind - decreasing. No lying snow or low-cloud. Sunshine and clear skies all day but with increasing haze. (LOC: IO73XB, WAB: SH65)

Aerial positioning:
Last year the O2 mobile was useless from here but this time Orange had coverage. With Roy (G4SSH) on holiday I didn’t use the phone; relying instead on an estimated time given to G3RMD before leaving Snowdon. Frank had voiced his concern regarding the dipole positioning on this ‘peaky’ top but I thought I could erect it on the southwest-facing slope just down from the western summit. This proved to be the case but in deference to other mountain users I rigged it below the path and not across it. The price for this sacrifice was paid by G4BLH and maybe others. Several QSOs on Top Band were probably lost because the antenna was effectively screened for 180 degrees by the high ground immediately to the northeast.

Propagation on 160:
Daylight propagation on 160 is arguably an hour-by-hour changing mixture of line-of-sight and NVIS. Unlike on NW1 in the early morning, close to midday NVIS is mostly blocked by a heavily ionised D-layer which leaves the direct path doing most of the work. If the latter is blocked by tons of rock, the bit of NVIS remaining just can’t cope.

Well, that’s my theory anyway! It seemed to be confirmed in GM last year from An Teallach. With the dipole unable to ‘see’ over the summit ridge, Cris GM4FAM in Inverness reported a much poorer signal on 160m than the day before when the aerial was in the clear. The powers and times for the two GM mountains were roughly similar but the second one, where the close-screening took place, was much higher and the path distance shorter. As per VHF, it’s important (though often impractical) to get the 160m aerial right on top of the hill but what one op loses, another gains. Owing to the NW8 setup, stations to my southwest had perhaps an enhanced chance to make contact, due to antenna ‘system gain’ afforded by the 25 degree slope. It probably makes scant difference with antennas so close to the ground but southwest also happened to be the dipole’s broadside direction.

80m CW:
Frank G3RMD was again waiting on 3.532 and I was spotted in short order. What followed was a little better than the Snowdon 80m CW session in that 13 stations (three extra) were logged at a better rate, using 20W. F6FTB was most welcome if unexpected at this time of day on 80. The rest were G or EI stations and I suspect NW8 may have been a newie for one or two few of them.

80m SSB:
Headed by Mike GW0DSP and ending with Roger MW0IDX, 20 regulars lined up to collect this one on 3.723 SSB. This took 40 minutes and a power of 40W with full power needed on occasions. What usually happens is that someone will call in then won’t hear my reply until I put more ‘coal’ on, whereupon reports are exchanged. Invariably ‘QSB’ gets the credit for this ‘minor miracle’ but I will usually drop to the original level for 73’s so if you don’t hear that second over, you’ll know why.

Regrettably, the only continental op to call in was Dan ON4ON. The fact that I am not working enough overseas stations despite QRO capability is a constant concern to me. A lot of the resources are going into Top Band.

Scarborough QSOs:
Late in the session I had two surprises. Two Scarborough stations called in. First was Kevin G0NUP who I initially thought was just saying ‘hello.’ I later found out that he has just become a chaser and is well on his way to his first 100 points. The second was Phil G0UUU/A working my old FT77 from my very own dining room table after having gone round to feed our cat.

Phil used to live at my house long ago before ‘flying the nest.’ In 1992 aged 12, after passing the novice (now called ‘intermediate’) RAE and a 5 wpm CW test he gained only the 35th UK HF Novice licence issued. Before the year was out he had 1000 (mainly CW) QSOs in his log and had passed his 12 wpm too. In those days you got just 3 Watts on narrow, obscure and sometimes almost useless sections of 160, 80, 30, 15 & 10m (mainly CW) and 70cm FM. Skill was needed in abundance and the craft was learned through adversity! Today, both Phil and Kevin struggled with local QRN at 9 plus 10dB levels. Incoming reports were 22 and 35.

How chasers cope with the levels of QRN they have to face is a mystery to me at times. Here’s a petition I signed about it: http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page19025 The reply is a bit of a fob-off, I feel. Anyway, that’s an aside.

160m CW:
Judging by what he’d said on 80 SSB a few minutes before, Frank (Gloucestershire) was not expecting to get through on 160. In fact he was second to respond to my 80W output, after Mike EI2CL. An hour before noon both their signals were stronger than I expected and I didn’t receive bad reports either. It must have made a pleasant change for Mike not to have to struggle against Dublin’s QRN today, simply because the Welsh mountains are eminently more reachable on 160m than either LD or NP. Despite further CQ’s, nothing more was heard on here except the tell-tale TX-sidetone buzzing sound which accompanies under-voltage on an IC706.

40m CW:
7.032 was in use, so with the 706 ‘running on fumes’ so to speak, I turned the power down to 5W and called CQ on 7.032.7. Maybe there would be enough juice for one or two QSO’s? Nobody heard me and the band seemed rather quiet. Nudging it up to 7.033, I tried again. Nothing but the dreaded ‘flat-battery sound’ came back. Tests have shown that to produce a handful of watts, the IC706 wants over 5 Amps at 12 volts. Yes 5 Amps!! No small wonder that the battery died in short order. NIL QSOs.

At around this time, I had another of quite a few visitors throughout the day. Greg and the young lady with him turned out to be good friends of Peter G0FIM, who is a WAB and SOTA activator as well as a climber and qualified mountain leader. The connection wasn’t immediately obvious and I only ‘caught on’ as they were leaving. You know how it is. 99.9% of the population use names to identify people but we use callsigns. I ran after them and we took photos. It was good to meet Peter’s friends on the mountaintop.

2m FM:
Somehow an hour had been gained in the day and this could now be applied to VHF using the IC-E90 5W H/H. After packing up the now useless HF gear, I moved to the summit proper for a CQ on 145.5 using my half-wave home-brew J-fed vertical. This aerial achieved MG status in 2004 and it was to pull in another 16 stations today.

First up at 11:50z was Alun 2W0CYM/M. Little wonder that he had a big signal, Alun was just walking off Snowdon and heading my way. ‘I’ll be with you in an hour.’ ‘Look for someone carrying an FT817 on a strap round his neck.’ A few QSOs later in came SOTA activator G0PZO. Charlie kindly spotted me.

After CW and SSB, the clarity of FM combined with a relaxed atmosphere seemed like a breath of fresh air. Most of the stations were from N. Wales, Lancashire and The Wirrall but I also worked a South Wales S2S in the form of MW3UKK/P on GW/SW-005. I knew this voice but still needed help. Once he’d given the name Gordon, I ‘twigged.’ We had met in a snow drift on Fountain’s Fell during the winter and I then I heard Jenny talking in the background. Gordon & Jenny had been giving the NPs a serious bashing in the interim. FB!

4m FM:
Encouraged by G4BLH a last act was to give 70.450 FM a try. With just a duck, I didn’t expect to get as far as Mike’s QTH near Nelson but in fact I got a 41 RS from him. John MW1FGQ came in at 59 plus and Brian G4ZRP from the Wirral rounded off the day for me. There were 54 QSOs from NW8 to add to the 38 made on NW1.

Just as I was packing away the VHF kit, 2W0CYM topped out and we shook hands. As promised, the 817 summited just ahead of Alun. After a brief chat I thrust the IC-E90 into his hands and encouraged him to call CQ. Alun’s first ever SOTA QSO on 4m was with Mike G4BLH but within a few minutes he’d worked John & Brian too. I never knew when I bought it but this rig proved to be bilingual as Alun chatted with John in the ‘local lingo.’ Brilliant!

Alun put me right on a few place-name pronunciations too. I’d been telling all and sundry I was on ‘Clewid.’ Apparently ‘Clewid’ is miles away and NW8 is pronounced something like ‘Kluith.’ Maybe I should just stick to CW? I walked off at 14:17 still in some confusion but it had been really good meeting Alun from Caernarfon.

After some more minor ascents of secondary high-points, the path down from NP8 was easy to follow, though quite steep in places and craggy around SH 6305 5354. It passes over a footbridge at SH 6328 5439 and in a further 300m, meets the Miner’s Track which got me to Pen-Y-Pass for 15:29. I was back to Llandudno for 16:30; an hour before our meal time.

I’d done the whole day on two sandwiches and not counting pre-hydration, two pints of water! Three pint-pots of tea later, I began to feel human again. After a full day of ‘summer’ I’ve now had enough. Roll on winter again! Getting an early start had been well worth the bother and most objectives including the 160m ones had been met. 40m CW from NW8 was not to be but 2m and 4m were bonuses.

QSO’s: NW1: 38. NW8: 54. Total 92, comprising:
23 on 3.5-CW.
41 on 3.5-SSB.
9 on 1.8 CW.
Nil on 7-CW.
16 on 145-FM.
3 on 70-FM.

Walking: 910m (2985ft) ascent, 12 km (7.5 miles). (Unconfirmed)

Times (BST):
Llandudno: 03:45
Pen-y-Pass: 04:37
Walkout of PP: 05:20.
NW1: 06:55 to 09:16.
NW8: 10:23 to 14:17.
Pen-y-Pass: 15:29.
Llandudno: 16:30

Elapsed times:
Pen-y-Pass to NW1: 95 min.
NW1 to NW8: 67 min.
NW8 to Pen-y-Pass: 72 min.
NW1 summit time: 2hr – 41 min.
NW8 summit time: 3hr – 54 min.

Walking time: 3Hr – 54 min.
Summit time: 6Hr – 15 min.
Total (exc. driving etc). 10Hr – 9 min.

HF: IC706-2G, 8.8 Ah Li-Po, 100% utilised.
Both summits: Link dipole for 80-60-40-20. H/B slug-tuned loading coils for 160m
4 section - 5m H/B CFC mast with 1m end-supports.

VHF: IC-E90 6-4-2-70 H/H (5W) with 1300 mAh integral battery, part used.
Half-Wave H/B, J-fed vertical on short mast for 2m.
4m band aerial: A 2m rubber duck with 26.5 cm extension rod.

(QRO pack-weight: 11.5 kg.) 18 SOTA points.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and to G4BLH, G3RMD, 2E0PXW, MW0IDX, EI2CL & G0PZO for messages and/ or spotting.

73, John G(W)4YSS (using SSEG Club callsign, varied for Wales to GC0OOO/P)

In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks for the report. A good read as usual.

Once again you got me out of bed far earlier than I would care to normally so I got the usual “You’re mad!” from Helen when she emerged several hours later. “Not as mad as this guy!” I replied as you appeared on 80m SSB on NW-008.

It was great to get the two summits on 80m and the logic to the early start seemed to make sense but it is a good job you have some dedicated followers.

Your appearance on 4m came as a bit of a surprise. I could not hear you well enough to work but you were breaking the squelch on the AKD 4001 which was a surprise as I almost always struggle with NW-001 on 2m which is of course higher than NW-008. I was left with the impression that we might have made it if I got my antenna higher, had a more sensitive receiver or maybe if you had up a better antenna than the rubber duck, one for the future maybe.

Best regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Another excellent and detailed report from you. A real pleasure to read. I did wonder how you might fare deploying HF on NW-008 and it appears you did very well under the circumstances. Frank G3RMD told Paul G4MD that you had moved on there after NW-001, so we were keeping track of you. Were your ears burning?

I’m sorry to have missed you on your 2m session, particularly as Paul and myself were just across the valley ascending Moel Hebog NW-014. Unfortunately I didn’t put the 2m FM rig on until I got into the activation zone. Probably more annoying is the fact that I had my 4m rig with me, so lost that opportunity as well. Anyway, Alun did call me for an S2S just after we arrived at the trig so I got my chaser points.

73, Gerald

P.S. It was warm enough for me to actually finish my bottle of water on the summit and I could have done with more as well.

In reply to G4YSS:

I happened to be talking to Brian G4ZRP on the dog-n-bone when you appeared on 4m. Listening in over the phone link you were surprisingly strong on 4m compared to 2m. Brian’s QTH is about 100ft or so below the summit and so he’s shielded to North Wales. His 4m and 2m antennas are comparable in gain yet you were clearly 5 o6 S points stronger on 4m than 2m. It appears to be true about the sayings that 4m can flow over obstructions better than 2m!

Nice report as usual.


In reply to G4YSS:

Sorry not to have made it with you this time, John, but despite the early start the local digitalis QRM was so strong I could have walked on it! I knew you were there, but that’s as far as it got!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4YSS:

Another great report John. We made the mistake of doing NW-008/NW-001 the other week from the campsite at Llyn Gwynant which adds about 3/4 miles of walking to what you need to do from the car park round there, plus you are starting at 60m ASL making it rather a long walk. Pen-y-Pass definitely has its advantages if you can get into the car park!

Notes on pronounciation:

d = d as in David
dd = th as in then

ll = put tongue behind top teeth and blow continuously to get a sort of ‘wet’ f sound.

and by the way:

ff = f as in fan
f = v as in van

Its a long time since I was at school in Caernarfon but that much at least I remember.



In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks for another excellent report John. Congratulations - rigging an antenna for 160m on top of NW-001 is a work of art.

Sorry I could not work you on this expedition but my indoor vertical antenna at this location only goes down to 40m.

Fowey, Cornwall


set off walking with a solitary sandwich and only 1 litre of water to last
the day.

Perhaps you’d find the following interesting:


A bit pricey but you can get them cheaper elsewhere. While £30 sounds a lot
it works out at approx 10p per litre - a bargain when you haven’t had a drink
for 4 hours!


In reply to M0RCP:

Well unless you melt snow, I don’t think you’ll find any water on Snowdon.

Good work G4YSS! I’ve activated both peaks but only on 2m FM, and less time on the summit.

For next time - Yr Aran, just south of Snowdon, has a whacking great big top, easily space to set up big dipoles. There are even some old fence poles you can duct tape masts and stuff to.

Also, what was ‘reasonable’ WX?

Hi John,

Great report, another great route you could in that area is the wakin path. Park at the start of the watkin path on the A498, and then walk up the watkin path up to the turning for Y Lliwedd NW-008. The right at this point until you get to the summit of NW-008. Activate the summit, and then walk back to the watkin path. At this point walk up the watkin path up to Snowdon NW-001. Activate Snowdon and the walk down the south ridge until you get to the col between Snowdon NW-001 and Yr Aran NW-019. walk straight up until you get to the summit of Yr Aran. On this summit there is plenty of room of HF. After you activate you could make your way back to the watkin path via the ridge and old mines. When you get back to the watkin path, walk straight down the path until you get back to the car park.

I did this circuit with my Dad M1EYP in heavy rain and high winds.

Jimmy M3EYP

Reply to ALL:

Hi Steve,
Yes, sorry it had to be so early. I didn’t want to be there when (possibly) the trains started up. They may or may not be running yet but lots walk up as well. You are right. There are some keen chasers; well most are keen chasers really but the Top-Banders beat all ‘cos ‘They’re on First!’ The support is not only reassuring and appreciated but highly convenient too.

4m is a good band that does seem to bend around corners quite well. I used it on summit activations in the mid 90’s. Then & now you can meet a lot of gentlepeople on there and it was fun. True the current aerial isn’t up to much. Back then I used a full sized Slim Jim made with copper tape between 2-layers of duct tape and hung from a 6.8m mast. It was great but it broke due to flexing in high winds. Mike BLH sent me a ribbon cable design but as yet I haven’t got its resonance sorted.

Not only 4m but in fact ‘good old’ 2m FM was a really breath of fresh air; an ‘easy listening’ pleasure after all the squeaks and side-splash of HF SSB. I will have to do more of it. Maybe I will take a holiday from LF for a while.

Thanks for your comments on the other thread. All noted but the writings are possibly too much like you find in the workplace. Talking of that, you have my sympathy with regard to your work. No wonder you shot off to do SOTA. Bit of a shambles about the B&B on Kirkstone but some great activations and a very readable report. It’s rotten when Sunday afternoons are half ruined by the thought of Monday! (Speaking from past experience).

73, John.

Hello Gerald:

Yes, my ears were burning but only from the unaccustomed sunshine! Frank did well for us all that day.

Sorry I missed you too but I’m glad my ‘new friend’ Alun picked up where I’d left off. I was a bit apologetic when he arrived; telling him ‘ I hope I haven’t swept up all your chasers.’ I might have stayed off 2m had I known in advance that he was on his way.

Trust you had good trade on NW14. That’s one for the future; a ‘stand-alone.’ Progress so far is no more than the preparation (and storage) of a GPS route.

I will look out for a report. A 4m S2S or just a QSO with you would have been great. There’ll be another time.

73, John.

Hi Andy,
Phone-relay then? Yes, I was surprised when Brian & I made such an easy QSO on 4m with my rubbish aerial. 2m was a bit of a struggle as I remember. At the moment 4m is a kind of easy afterthought, just using what resources of time & energy are left after HF. After motoring around with an ex gas board quarter-wave whip on the car roof and doing a few summits in the 90’s I kind of got to like 4m. We all commented then that it got over obstructions well. It still hurts that my IC706 transmits on 139.5 MHz when you key it up set to 70. I thought I’d cracked it for SSB but no such luck, the IFs are all wrong.

Thanks & 73, John.
(PS:Great NS’s! Well done….Envy)

Hiya Brian,
Sorry we couldn’t work but thanks for telling me why. I used to think 80m was terrible for noise 20 years ago and it was. However, that was like FM compared to today. 60m is a good band so maybe I should be using that. The reason I don’t is because it excludes, out of hand M3s, 2Es etc. The truth is it’s only a quiet band because it’s experimental. If we got an allocation I could see it getting pretty bad overnight.

It’s a job to know what proportion of the noise comes in from afar and which is local. I turned my house mains supply at the meter off while listening 80m on a battery. The QRN went down from 9 plus 10 to about 9 plus 5. The summit evidence is that chasers can be heard; it’s just getting back to them, so a lot of it must be local to dwellings. Just keep signing the petitions!

Better luck next time,
73, John.

Hi Rick,
Welsh lessons. I need some! Alun was trying his best on NW8 but the ‘student’ wasn’t getting it! ‘Y Lliwedd.’ Where do you start? It’s embarrassing in GM too. One activation I did was called BIDHEIN BAD NA-H-LOLAIRE! Trouble is, non-SOTA ops ask, QTH??’ The English can’t even get their own back with such simple choices as Cross Fell, The Calf or Lovely Seat.

Understood about the route. In 2003 I took a similar one. Up the Watkin to NW8, then Snowdon followed by Yr Aran. This was just on 2m FM but it was a long walk and I ended up struggling down an old railway incline full of loose rocks. So you are right’ unless you are adding on YA, Pen-y-Pass is the best start point by far. You must have had quite a climb. For all three I got it to nearly 4,700 feet of ascent and 13km plus. You will have done most of that for just the two, so it would have been a hard day.

What did worry me is what you wrote, ‘If you can get in the car park.’ I take your point. I drove up at 04:35 expecting to see two cars max. It was maybe 60% full. Vans, minibuses, cars etc. It’s of great concern for the future because as far as I know (and I looked in 2003) there’s only one place you can pull off the road so if the car park is full, we’re likely to be completely snookered.

73, John

Good evening Roy.
Thanks for the cup of tea!
Yes you are right, it’s not an easy one but there are plenty that are just as hard and some harder. What makes the difference on NW1 is its popularity versus the size of the summit area (IAW the 25m rule) and the potential for tangling or tripping people up. At times the majority of the visitors are not even walkers. A few may not be able-bodied either. Not only is the summit pyramid relatively small but it’s also steep and covered in rocks, many loose. However, it is possible so I would encourage anybody to try it provided the public is reasonably safeguarded and it’s ‘off-peak’ time wise. After all, judging by the data, someone pioneered it long ago (for 80 and / or 40 at least).

If I’d got properly onto 40m, I was hoping to find out whether Fowie was going to be far enough away from NW8. Sadly the battery died after two CQs on there so still no QSO’s on 40 from NW8.

73, John.

Thanks Rick,
That device could be a great help for certain expeditions. Long walk-ins to solitary GM SOTAs or multiple bashes in LD where you can’t get back to the car in between. I had a look at the product and have emailed them to ask the dimensions and capacity etc. I think the best thing is to buy one immediately prior to when it’s needed because the filter ‘life’ starts rolling. They recommend replacing it after 1 year, long before it has have the chance to filter 77 gallons, so I have also asked what a new filter costs. All in all it seems like a miracle product and a very convincing answer in certain circumstances. The video was really impressive.

The way I approach the problem now is:

  1. Take more radio kit and less water.
  2. Take on 1 ltr and sometimes 1.5 before leaving the vehicle. (This lends itself to SOTA because normally you’re faced with a very sweaty initial climb, which is where water is most needed.)
  3. Accept some minor dehydration near the end and deal with it later.
  4. Pack Iodine.
  5. Take an orange!

I may well buy this filter,
Thanks again,
73, John.

OK on Yr Aran. I was there in May 2003 and after a terrifying incident up a gully looking for a Spitfire wreck, I remember a pleasant grassy top; very different from Snowdon. Back then, it was quite hard to get the QSO’s on 2FM. I managed 4 or 5 in 30 minutes. Rusty fence posts festooned with bracketry come to mind. As you say, ideal for HF masts. Fewer people about too.

No, I don’t remember seeing streams on Snowdon higher up and the tiny patch of snow remaining, was stuck in some precipice fissure. The filter looks like a good product though and could have its uses elsewhere.

Reasonable weather (to me) means dry with moderate wind-speeds in summer, no sun and temps below 10C (at the top.) In winter temperatures low enough so it can’t rain or sleet & low wind-speeds. Sunshine is OK so long as it’s cold enough.

On the day it was sunny but summit temp never got above about 10C on NW8 and was 0C (later 2C) on NW1. Sitting about for hours and strenuous walking carrying a load are two such widely differing activities that no single WX condx could ever suit both. That said, clothing is improving gradually and with it comfort in varying weather. I think it’s fair to say that the hotter you get, the wetter you get so the colder you become when you stop. I think you’ll know what I mean.

73, John.

Hi Jimmy,
Thanks for your comments re the report. You must be keen if you read through all of it.
The ‘round’ which you describe I put on 2m-FM on 25-05-03 as part of a 3-day, 72 point, 13k-ft trip to Wales so I know it. It was an intensive 3 days. I remembered getting peppered by hailstones on NW8 but your rain & high winds sounds a lot worse than that. I bet your dad was annoyed with the WX. I would have been cursing it.

The route was up past the Gladstone Rock and exactly as you described; turn right at Bwylch y Seathau. On the way back from NW19, I took the direct route straight down the old incline. That was a mistake that saved distance at the expense of time. It was quite difficult, rough & loose. With just lightweight radio gear I took an old video camera which weighed 1kg & made a film of the first 2 days. I still have that vid somewhere. There is no report for that expedition apart from in an old notebook; in fact back then I was not computer literate. However I do now have a summary which is shown below:

Summary, 25-May-2003: 1423m ascent, 14 km.
2m FM using 4W to omni vertical.
Icom ICT7E H/H.
Watkin Path & down Clogwyn Brith incline.
10.5 hrs gross, 7.5 hrs net walking.
24 points.
(Made analogue video).
NW8: 4 QSO’s.
NW1: 7 QSO’s.
NW19: 5 QSO’s.

Note the pathetic QSO tally! That’s how it was in those days! I haven’t done this round since but well done to you two for completing it in atrocious conditions with many more QSO’s than me, I don’t doubt.

73, John.

Thanks for all comments, info &/or QSOs.