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G4YSS / M6YLH: NP4 Joint Act'n, 09-08-11

G4YSS / M6YLH Joint Activation of WHERNSIDE: QRO on 80m CW/SSB, 160m CW, 2m CW & QRP 4m & 2m FM.

G4YSS using SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P.
Accompanied by Hazel newly licenced with M6YLH and Grandson Jack aged 3.5 in his ‘Jackpack.’
Refer also to Hazel’s report at http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=5986#foot
All times BST (= UTC + 1 hr).

IC706-2G. Adjustable dipole, 5m mast, 160m coils.
One 9 Ah Li-Po for MF.
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 4m-band with 2m extended helical & counterpoise for VHF. 7.4V, 1.3 Ah Lithium detachable battery. (Also used by M6YLH for 2m FM ops).

QRO pack: Total: 25.5kg (56 pounds) 10kg plus Jack (2st-3p) etc. Masts and umbrella which were hand carried are included in this.

This was Hazel’s 11th SOTA summit but her first ever activation with her new foundation callsign M6YLH. She has been working steadily over the past year in order to become a radio amateur – today was the time to try it out.

When travelling from Scarborough through two rush hours it is essential that York, Harrogate and to a lesser extent, Knaresborough be avoided. There are two gates to open on the final stage. Our 120 mile journey took 3 hours from 07:04 and we were walking by 10:34.

The path up Whernside starts from the Ingleton to Dent Road to the west of NP4 at SD 7219 8184. The start point for Gt. Coum is a little further up the road towards Dent. Though this approach to NP4 is steep in places it is only around 2km to the top requiring a height gain of approx. 280m. The grassy top enables aerials to be easily erected and there is a stout wall running roughly north-south for shelter. The path is easy to follow and goes via SD 7244 8173, dog-legging right at SD 7310 8163 and resuming its steady climb at SD 7316 8150. A short scarp slope is encountered at SD 7354 8143 but though a bit shaley, it’s not steep enough to require hands down.

Jack was quite excited and needed little persuasion to get into his ‘Jackpack’ for carrying. This has a large ‘boot compartment’ underneath which will readily accept the QRO HF station, VHF H/H, food, drink and a few clothes for Jack. It would have been nice to allow him to walk at least some of the way but we didn’t have limitless time. The party who set off just before us had two children of similar age. Looking back, we saw that one child was soon crying and someone ended up carrying him up to the summit without any aids – a grueling task no doubt. Though the weather was pleasant – a cool breeze and intermittent sunshine - we laboured up slowly, stopping every few paces and taking it in turns to lean on the radio masts I was carrying.

At the summit somebody had left a large Yorkshire flag fluttering, presumably from Yorkshire day on 1st of August. This made a great prop for the summit photos. We set up by the wall about 100m north from the trig point. The wind was supposed to be from the NE but was actually NW when we got there and more like a westerly at the end. We would have been better on the east side of the wall and in winter would have had little choice. Today, with a 3-year old in tow it seemed prudent to stay windward of the wall; the alternative was to be near a busy path and close to a very steep slope.

Had there been just the two of us we would probably have elected to activate simultaneously. Jack needed supervision but also in this instance, Hazel needed some moral support; this being her very first activation. Her log hitherto contained only 5 or 6 entries and most of those were people she knew. She was very nervous at first, forgetting her ‘lines’ but got into it later. It must be said that everybody she worked did their best to sympathize which calmed her down significantly.

This wasn’t a mainstream activation as far as I was concerned but I had hoped to work one or two chasers on my favourite bands, namely 80, 160 & 4. Hazel volunteered to look after the local chasers on 2-FM.

G/NP-004 WHERNSIDE, 736m (2415ft). 11:44 to 15:12, 11 Deg C, Wind NW about 15 mph - decreasing. Sunshine with occasional cloud cover. Excellent visibility. WAB: SD78. IO84TF. Orange and O2 phone coverage.

While we were setting up one of the many passing ‘Three Peaker’s’ mentioned to us that ‘Your colleagues are climbing Ingleborough.’ We later found out what he meant when Rob G0HRT/P called Hazel on 2m FM from Ingleborough’s summit. By the middle of the activation another remarked, ‘You were quick getting from Ingleborough to Whernside weren’t you?’ And so the confusion continued with similar comments but not forgetting the ubiquitous ‘are you fishing’ quip.

3.557 CW - 4 QSO’s:
This was quite disappointing but I guessed summer day conditions were to blame. I only worked four stations after CQ’ing for 10 minutes before calling Roy on the phone in desperation for a spot. Despite my 100 Watts, reports except for the near stations were not that great but at least Mike EI2CL got the points now as he was to fail later on 160m due to noise. G4SSH, G4OBK, G4CPA, EI2CL entered the log. Despite lengthening my aerial since the last activation, the VSWR still seemed too high on this frequency.

3.724 SSB - 8 QSO’s:
Thanks to Roy’s spot which is normally forthcoming as a result of sending SSB……SSB……SSB……at the end of the 80m CW session, chasers were waiting for me on here. I thought the lack of large numbers of 80m CW QSO’s earlier was due to band conditions or a bad aerial but though the former were far from great, the SSB’ers proved me wrong. I was soon getting into the Midlands with reasonable signal reports. Roger G0TRB was first in, no doubt looking for WAB SD78 as much as the SOTA. Graham G4JZF was next followed by G6ODU, GM4WHA, GW4BVE, G0TDM, G8ADD, G4GJE plus a few incidental words with G4OBK at the end.

GW4BVE was sending me a ‘rig-lifting’ signal but after our QSO a man came down from 3.727 to say that John was splashing over. John went down 3 kHz to conduct a transmitting trial while Phil G4OBK & I chatted on 3.724 but we detected nothing. Investigations were ongoing when I slid off to Top Band. Again full power was used.

160m CW - 3 QSOs:
As is often the case, Phil was the first to log my 100W on 160m but underneath his resounding 599 signal from Pickering, I could hear weaker stations calling. These turned out to be John G0TDM in Penrith and EI7CC Pete in Dublin. As was mentioned earlier, Mike EI2CL who likes to collect on 160m and is very keen, could not hear me. I found afterwards that TV noise was the culprit this time. It’s the school holidays I suppose but when I was that age, nothing would keep me indoors. We were out climbing down the local 100 foot disused quarries on bits of knotted parachute cord, playing cricket, catching sticklebacks, having bonfires or damming up the local beck to attract frogs etc.

Some tame sheep approached at this time and were given a few leftover scraps by Jack.

144.050 CW - 1 QSO:
A CQ on here brought back Roy, G4SSH who had left his FT897 tuned to this QRG since we arrived. It was an interesting trial in that I used a vertical half-wave with 50 Watts. Roy’s antenna is also vertical but I didn’t necessarily expect a QSO from this range with plenty of high ground interrupting the path. It seems that the 128 km (80 mile) vector may have just allowed the signal to sneak through between Dodd Fell and Buckden Pike. I apologize for not asking Roy to spot this but Jack was not very well and time was getting on.

Just after 2m CW tangible evidence for why Jack, who had been complaining of stomach ache since we arrived but which had suddenly improved, were brought to light. No further details will be given here but suffice to say that his nappy days have been over for some months now and we were therefore presented with a problem. Fortunately Hazel had some foresight regarding what to bring with us.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO:
After several CQ’s in a 15 minute period while packing up the HF station, I managed a QSO with G1KLZ, Doug in Bentham. I think I might have done better at a weekend but I was only using 3 Watts to an extended 2m rubber duck with a counterpoise. This is my end of activation (though tried and tested) ‘Oh dear I forgot about 4m’ arrangement. Yes, it’s a kind of afterthought which has now become perhaps more of a ritual. Everything else is packed away by the time I try 4m, which means I can freely walk to the best VHF takeoff point then carry on down with the minimal delay of shoving the rig into a side pocket on the rucksack afterwards. Logging is always a problem for these QSO’s as are reports of wind noise in the microphone.

I offered the rig to Hazel to give her some experience of 4m but she was too busy with Jack.

The descent took 40 minutes. The car was gained by 15:52 and we were duly underway by 16:00 to reach Scarborough by 18:52. The total distance driven was 240 miles.

Ascent / Distance: 280m / 4.2km (2 x 2.1km).

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G4SSH, GW4BVE, G0TDM and EI2CL. Special thanks to Roy G4SSH once again for telephone coordination.

Total: Just 17 QSO’s, comprising:
4 on 3.5-CW.
8 on 3.5 SSB.
3 on 1.8-CW
1 on 144-CW.
1 on 70-FM

(Also: 12 on 145-FM by M6YLS inc. S2S).

In Conclusion:
This was successful sortie in that Hazel managed her first summit activation after passing her exam via SARS on 14th of June and we all got a good day on a mountaintop. We didn’t set the World on fire QSO rate wise but we did what we set out to do. When Jack wasn’t suffering with stomach ache, he seemed to be having a good time and was really very well behaved, though understandably needing attention a lot of the time. The WX was perfect for something like this and summer is the time to do the less demanding expeditions.

Hazel seemed to leave with a good impression of amateur radio gained from talking to SOTA chasers. It demonstrates that SOTA is still for the most part, the happy family which began in 2002. Well done to her for gaining her licence so as to enhance her enjoyment of mountain walking and this fine hobby. We look forward to activating many more summits.

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

In reply to G4YSS:

Great report John and well done Hazel!
Nick G4OOE

In reply to G4YSS:
I listened for you on top band and could just about hear you, you were the weakest I’ve ever heard you on that band…never mind, autumn is on the way!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OOE & G8ADD:
Nick & Brian,
Thanks for the replies. Yes Hazel did well with her nervy 1st SOTA. The chasers were very sympathetic which was really nice.

Top Band was noisy for once. I don’t think it was local to me - I’m told Phil G4OBK was troubled by it too. Unusual on a summit though. As you say Brian, Autumn should sort it.

Hope your Birks Fell expo goes well Nick!

73, John.