G4YSS: SUMMIT CAMP on G/NP7 8th-9th Aug 12. G/NP1 on 09 Aug 12
G4YSS Using London Olympic Games Callsign (Featuring the Five Rings) GO0OOO/P.
G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell Summit Overnight Camp on 160-40-2m.
G/NP-001 Cross Fell on 160-40-2m.
‘Walking times’ in BST = UTC plus 1Hr.
‘Radio times’ in UTC (z).
EQPT: HF-QRO: IC706-2G. Link-dipole 80-60-40-(30)-20-(160 with coils).
5m H/B CFC mast with 1m end sticks.
NP7: 2 x 8.8 Ah Li-Po battery.
NP1: 1 x 13.2 Ah Li-Po battery.
NP7 reserve rig (not used): Jingtong JT208 2m-2W H/H.
NP1 reserve rig (no QSO 's): IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) 5W H/H.
VHF-FM: IC706-2G to half-wave vertical on both summits.
Single skin tent (1.4kg).
Thinnest sleeping bag (1.4kg).
Airbed (0.45kg - cost 4GBP.
NP7 summit camp:13kg (29 pounds) inc 1ltr fluids, food & camping gear.
NP1:11.5kg (25 pounds) inc 1ltr fluids.
One way to deal with XYL’s and ‘touchy subjects’ is to drip-feed them with the minimum of information until it’s too late. Thus this expedition to Wild Boar Fell was first presented as an ‘standard day out’ until I played the ‘Top Band Summer card.’ ‘It needs to be dark for Top Band to work well. I must be up there by 05:30 so will need to set off from home at 01:30.’ The retort was, ‘You’re not waking me up at that time, I’m sleeping in the spare room.’
Another day passed. ‘How would it be if I drove across on the evening before and kipped in the car?’ Hesitation, then the reply; ‘Well OK then - I could at least sleep in my own bed.’
Stage three was delivered on the way out of the door after tea on the 8th August and went something like this, ‘If there’s still enough daylight when I get there, I ‘‘MAY’’ just take a tent to the summit.’ ‘Got to rush - bye.’
Why Wild Boar Fell?
NP7 was chosen because it hadn’t a single Top Band QSO to its name. Though this was to be my 7th activation, it involves over 1400ft of ascent so I don’t do this one quite every year. The large, flat summit plateau can be a bleak prospect in winter but perfect for tent pegs in summer. I knew that the area around the miniscule shelter was a bit rocky and I would be arriving as it got dark so I chose to shorten the walk a little and pitch near the 702m spot height at the north end. It would not be ideal for reaching the main VHF chaser base in Lancashire as the signal would have to pass over the 708m true summit, so initially there was no plan to do 145 MHz. In any event, NP7 is not the best of SOTAs on VHF.
All my previous approaches except one have routed up a path from the road at SD 7827 9975, through the farm below Turner Hay Hill (SD7799 9976) under the railway at SD7787 9960 and across a beck at SD7774 9975. From there you go up to the left (west) on a good path via High Dolphinsty (NY7655 0002) and The Nab (SD7637 9918). This was the route chosen today. A couple of years ago I tried it from Cotegill Bridge which is over 90m higher but that wasn’t an efficient way in practice.
Setting off from home at 17:55, I arrived via the A66, at the start point in Mallerstang on the B6259 Kirby Stephen – Moorcock Inn road at 20:28. Ten valuable minutes had been wasted on the wrong road out of Kirby Stephen but I had managed to let Roy know by phone that I was going for the summit tonight. He passed this onfo on to Phil and Mark.
At SD 78274 99749 about 30m north of the farm track turnoff on the east side of the road, there’s space to park (if like me you don’t mind your car getting intimate with the dry stone wall.) After a quick survey on foot and a little effort I managed to reverse the car completely off the road beside a large tree but it was touching the stonework. In the past I have been up to my axles in mud on this verge and was once forced to employ my handwinch, which I keep in the boot for these emergencies.
A rucksack had been prepared for each summit so hoisting on the one for NP7, I set off walking at 20:35. The cacophony from sheep, dogs and geese as I passed through the farm would have been embarrassing had it been any later and dark. The Dab radio took my mind off the effort - the Olympic commentary was on 5-Live and I think it was hockey. In rapidly failing light the camping spot (SD 76304 99085 - 702m) was reached at 21:28.
WILD BOAR FELL, G/NP-007, 708m, 6 Pts, 21:28 on 8th to 10:29 on 9th August 2012. 10 deg.C. 15 mph NW wind dropping to zero from 23:00 to 05:00. Clear starlit/ moonlit skies then sunshine. (IO84TJ, WAB SD79.) Orange phone coverage - strong signal.
There was a cool wind with no rain expected but sunset had been and gone 40 minutes prior, leaving just a glow on the horizon. The accomodation was a cheapo but light single-skin Jamet tent with one longditudinal pole. The pitch was a little soggy but not too lumpy. After fixing a failed headlight and fathoming out how the tent worked, the latter turned out to be adequate for one occupant for one night apart from the inevitable condensation. The next tasks were the airbed (ebay - 450gm) which took ages to inflate and the dipole. By 22:15 local I’d ‘moved in’ and all was ready for an early activation.
14 MHz CW-SSB Band scan - Nil QSO’s:
Looked around 14.060 cw +/- 5 and 14.342 ssb for any sign of KR7W but nil heard. There were plenty of signals on the band and some were K’s but probably high power. I may also have got the timing wrong.
1.832 CW - 10 QSO’s late on 08-08-12:
Stations worked from 21:30z to 22:42z using 100 Watts (except for G0VOF - 40W) were: GO0VOF; EI2CL; G4OOE; PA0SKP; G4SSH; G4OBK: DJ5AV; G6DTN; EI7CC and G0NES. Incoming reports ranged from 529 to 569 with 229 from Roy G4SSH and 599 from Phil G4OBK.
Phil later gave a detailed reception report for the effect of my 100W signal on his two aerials as follows: Inverted ‘L’: Noise S9 signal S9 plus 5dB. Beverage: Noise S1 signal S7 - a much more pleasant copy.
Perhaps as a reward for his Top Band SOTA news reports, Mark G0VOF was the first to work NP7 on 160m. Whilst not being exceptional, propagation was well up on daytime levels and this enabled DJ and PA to make two way contacts with 569 reports both ways.
1.832 SSB - 8 QSO’s late on 08-08-12:
Using full power again, the SSB session produced the following QSO’s: G0RQL; G8ADD; GO0VOF; GM7UAU (who gave me 59 plus); G4OBK; G6ODU; G0BRP and EI3GYB. When compared with the earlier CW session and judging by the reports (mostly 57 to 59), 160m was settling further into its nighttime mode. Though I could barely copy him for much of the time, I later discovered that Brian G8ADD was quite pleased with his QSO. It was good result all round and well worth the extra effort of an overnight stay. Nicest of all, instead of lugging the station back to the car in darkness, I could now simply go to sleep.
In fact I had intimated that I might do 80m after 160m but Top Band had done so that well I didn’t bother. Bother was the right word too. With a bad sleep the night before due to ‘involuntary nocturnal planning’ I was tired. It would have meant two trips outside to remove then replace (ready for morning) the 160m coils in the dark and I barely had the energy to put my boots back on. Next day the action of removing the coils broke the aerial. As well as 80m, that would have scuppered 160m too!
If anything the airbed was over inflated and a bit uncomfortable but with the valve down by my feet it stayed that way. I only slept from 01:00 to 03:00 but resisted the temptation to go back on the air in the hope of DX; though I did scan the 20m band for possible VK’s at around 05:30z.
A New Day - 09 August 2012:
After a long night with poor quality sleep the sun was blasting in through the tent fabric. A pint pot full of reviving tea would have gone down really well at that moment but with no stove I got to work after a cold breakfast.
1.832 CW - 6 QSO’s early on 09-08-12:
Stations logged between 06:00 and 06:14z using 100 Watts were: G4OBK: G4OOE; G4SSH; GO0VOF; EI7CC and G4OWG. Incoming reports were edging closer to daytime conditions as time passed and try as I may from 06:08z, I just couldn’t bring in Mike EI2CL. He was 559 with me and responding to my CQ’s with his callsign in all the right places but could not hear anything else. I regret Mike had got out of bed for nothing. After trying for over 5 minutes in case of QSB, the final station called in - G0OWG Roger.
1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s early on 09-08-12:
Just G0OBK & GO0VOF on here. It was possibly too light for the more distant chasers to hear my signals but having kept the 160m enthusiasts up until almost midnight I was now expecting them to turn up again at 7 o clock for a second QSO and another six points! Apologies if you heard nothing but thanks to everybody who showed up either side of a short night to make the main purpose of overnighting on NP7 a great success.
80m - Nil:
Yet another break in the dipole occurred outboard of the coil insertion/ 40m band break points causing a very high VSWR on 80m. 40m was substituted. This is an recurrent problem. The 24 AWG wire was not designed to take the weight of loading coils to say nothing of the overuse and twisting of the wire tails on the dipole where they have to be connected. Good job it happened after theTop Band session.
7.032 CW - 32 QSO’s:
OM7DX (who was heard only on 160m the previous night) was swiftly back to my CQ at 06:54z followed by other European regulars but the band didn’t seem to be open to the UK yet. This session spanned 40 minutes including some CQ’s. Using 50 Watts and later economising with 30, the following entites were worked: OM; F; DL; HA; IK; ON; OE; EA; HB9; OK and SP.
I assume that just 120 QSO’s on 40m from this hill in ten years, 50 on 80m and a handful on 30 and above, resulted in the big demand for NP7 on the other side of the North Sea. It certainly seemed popular but some may have been collecting the special ‘O’ callsigns needed for an Olympic award.
7.079 SSB - 5 QSO’s:
Roy G4SSH posted this QRG for me but despite that and seemingly good signal reports it became obvious after 10 minutes that a rather unhealth horse was being flogged here. I did however manage to work: DK2RMP; PA0B; OE5WFN and DC9FO. Just before QSY to 2m-FM in a quest to find some G’s, I also worked Colin G4UXH in Milnethorpe. The latter proved little concerning propagation however; my 70 Watts were finding their way directly down the Cautley valley and over Sedburgh.
145.400 FM - 23 QSO’s:
Again a phone call to Roy got me a spot for S20 and I erected the 2m half-wave vertical. To minimise the effects of the 6m higher ground to the south, I took the HF dipole down and used its mast to raise the 2m aerial as high as its short coax would allow. It ended up at about 4m AGL but every little helps.
What probably helped more was the fact that I was running out of time whilst on the other hand I had just connected the second 8.8 Ah Li Po. This meant I could be extravagant with power so it was wound up to 25W and later to the full 50W available from the IC706-2G. After a CQ on 145.500, I settled on 145.400 in the hope that I just might be heard by the Scarborians that use it. So it came to pass.
I didn’t expect more than a dozen on here but was to be pleasantly surprised. Between 08:18z and QRT at 09:57z, 23 chasers had called in starting with G4OBK with a good report from Pickering; just 15 miles west of Scarborough and on the opposite side of the Pennines to NP7. Phil has good antennas but it looked like I was getting out OK.
I must have been in and out of QSB because at 08:40z, G4SSH called me with a 22 report. We exchanged satisfactorily and Roy QSL’d the 51 RS to him. Line of sight plus a third? Definitely far better than that but Roy has always defied radio wave logic anyway!
Quite a few callsigns had the ‘Olympic Oscar’ inserted but more than half had problems with my callsign. They do with the ‘X,’ ‘C’ or ‘S’ inserted but all five Olympic rings had some of them really foxed. From what I could gather, they were writing it down OK but when it came time for the handover it was a case of ‘hunt the zero!’ It caused tongues to be tied and raised more than a few laughs. One op put four zeros in it.
Half an hour was all that was required to repack the gear and I left the summit in sunshine at 10:29 arriving at the car at 11:13.
Drive to NATS Radar Stn. for NP1:
This was preceeded by logistics work. I had to make sure that everything that was needed for the next activation was removed from the NP7 rucksack and repacked in the one for NP1. In the event I only forgot one thing which was non critical. After the dipole broke on NP7, another was taken to NP1 and I made certain that a fresh battery (13.2Ah) was added. It was not as warm a day as forecast so I took a thicker fleece; something I was to be glad of, sitting around in a cold wind at almost 3000ft.
The drive to the NATS Radar Station on Great Dunn Fell took from 11:40 to 12:25 but I was quickly underway; wanting to disassociate myself from my car which was parked right up by the barrier (NY7163 3160) which is above the ‘Only Authorised Vehicles Beyond this Point’ notice. There was no list to say which vehicles were not authorised - certainly no mention of Ford Fiestas, so I drove on and parked beside another possible miscreant. Later when I walked up to the station with the occasional official vehicle driving past me, all were friendly and nobody objected.
Walk to NP1:
The walk to the shelter and trig point on Cross Fell (NP1) took from 12:28 to 13:31. Both Great and Little Dunn Fells must be climbed and on the return too, which can be quite annoying at the end of a long day. Nevertheless, it beats the next best route which is from Kirkland. That takes almost two hours just for the ascent. After the ‘I did it’ photos, I doubled back to the uppermost stone stack at NY 6902 3425 for the activation. This is 300m east of the trig but inside the activation area by some 190 horizontal metres. It also has better views than from the shelter and you can see as far as Cow Green reservoir and NP2. I thought it might be quieter but the main path runs past it. At least it provided a solid backrest and some shelter from the stiff cold breeze.
Thankfully there were no mishaps today unlike last December when I was quite badly bitten by a mouse, fell through a snow bridge into a beck and slipped on ice covered slabs. In comparison today was to be a completely benign experience. Even the sunshine didn’t bother me due to the cold breeze.
CROSS FELL, G/NP-001, 893m, 8Pts, 13:31 to 17:06; 15 Deg C; 15 mph NW wind; hazy sunshine/ overcast. (IO84SQ, WAB NY63.) Highest point in the Pennines. Orange phone coverage.
7.032.5 CW - 16 QSO’s:
After a false start on 7.032, where it turned out another activator was working, a 500Hz up QSY was made. The IC706 filter rejected all but the strongest adjacent QSO’s. Roy told me that conditions were poor on 40m so I set up for 70W initially and 100W after the first half dozen contacts. The following prefixes were worked in 25 minutes from 13:00z: PA; G, DL; OE; ON; HB9; F and EB. Six were G stations including the ‘home crowd’ but it was a struggle at times in QSB and noise.
7.115 SSB - 34 QSO’s:
Again Roy G4SSH posted this frequency making it very easy for me to get started on SSB. On here it was Bill G4WSB who found me followed by: MW; EB; HB9; PA; ON; GM and F. 80% of QSO’s were with UK stations including GM0OGN Richard on Barra Island; GO4CHX Jim in Gairloch and 2M1BVS/P Elaine in HU69 Shetland. Elaine’s OM was on a nearby 1-point SOTA struggling for QSO’s on 40m SSB with QRP. 100 Watts was used for all QSO’s.
1.832 CW - 2 QSO’s:
At 14:42 Mark GO0VOF had called on 40m SSB to tell me he had a meagre 20 minute slot from work and was ready for Top Band from his motorcycle. I tried to get away from 40m SSB but kept getting called. At the end Elaine 2M1BVS/P announced that her OM was on his way back from the 1-Pointer and was ‘just 50 metres away.’ I waited another two minutes for him to call but really couldn’t justify holding Mark up any longer after he had gone to such lengths to try to work me on 160.
The QSY from 40 to 160 took place around 14:50z. Off I went to fit the 160m coils but that went wrong too. Always when you’re in a rush Murphy makes his presence felt! The windspeed had changed bending the mast over to bring the coils within a couple of feet of the ground. High VSWR resulted. On 160 you need all the signal you can get without heating up the ground. As it is, efficiency must be well below 10%. After a bit of fiddling all was well and although Mark was not hearing me at first, we worked with 559 both ways. Phil G4OBK quickly followed but CQ’s then went unanswered due to a well established D-Layer. I had little expectation from the following SSB session. At this time of day it was a token effort.
1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s:
Phil G4OBK was reworked on here and I was about to QRT when I thought I heard someone. This was Geoff G4WHA/A in his shop in Penrith. He was using a 66 foot bit of wire in the loft space. He was 44 to me and 31 came back. Geoff seemed quite animated and was obviously pleased with his first ever Top Band QSO; from a SOTA too. Welcome to the ‘160 Club’ Geoff!
145.400 FM - 13 QSO’s:
After packing up the wire aerial the 2m FM half-wave vertical was rigged onto the side of the rock stack in the clear. Roy’s spot did the business for the final time, bringing in the last 13 stations of the 18 hour long operation. After all this activity and hardly any sleep for two nights, I was fatiged but that was more mental than physical. A concious effort had to be made not to garble callsigns - especially the one I was using and some will power to keep up appearances had to be brought to bear for the final hour or more.
It didn’t help that I was almost shivering in a cold wind and slowly falling temperature whilst chasers ‘cooked’ in their shacks down below. The wind was steadily increasing its northerly component which meant I had to shuffle round the rock stack to get out of it. As it was I could feel my neck stiffening up. A few people stopped to ask me what I was doing. I did my best to be informative but it didn’t help the activation.
This is a list of stations worked in the final NP1 session on 2-FM: G0HRT; GW4ZPL; G6CRV; G4RQJ; G4OBK; G6XBF; G4UXH; 2W0XYL/P (Karen S2S on NW15); G7LOY/M; G4WHA/A; G0TDM; GO1OHH and 2E0RWB. With no battery worries power output was 35 Watts and later 50 Watts from the 706.
Karen had called in about ten minutes prior and had been out of breath. She was a few minutes from the top of GW/NW-015 Glasgwm, having already done NW7 Aran Fawddwy. Unfortunately she reported having fallen in a bog in the col between the two mountains but her pressing concern was to find a less steep way off. I hope someone gave her some advice. I couldn’t help having never done either of these two.
Walking back took from 17:06 to 17:58 with the two uphill sections not appreciated. It’s always a good feeling when you reach the car after a demanding day. The ‘fridge’ (a 2 litre bottle of ice in a cardboard box) was full of chilled food including four oranges which were eagerly consumed and very refreshing.
The drive home via the A66, A1, A168 Topcliffe and Sutton Bank took from 18:10 to 20:25. (2 hrs - 15 min).
This was a worthwhile expedition with an overnight summit stay which is a thing I like doing. Wild Boar Fell has now been truly ‘Top Banded’ and that had as much to do with enthusiastic LF chasers as it had to do with me. The addition of SSB on 160 proved popular but as has been indicated in the past, it’s only really worth the effort within or close to the hours of darkness.
I tried hard this time to change things so as not to carry too much weight on the campover. This can be done in summer if arriving at dusk and leaving mid morning. Any longer and you need greater rescources of water, food with perhaps a water heating method and battery power but 29 pounds compares well with 63 pounds for VHF-NFD campover on NP8 in July 2011 and a similar weight for the New Year campovers of 2004/05 on NP18 and 2007/08 on NP4 where more insulation is required. Weather conditions were ideal this time which made a single skin tent and lighter sleeping bag acceptable. Thanks in part to 17.6Ah of Lithium batteries, this was by far my lightest overnight summit camp rucksack so far.
Band conditions were good on 160m overnight. They were a little less good but useable at 06:00z but poor by 15:00z. 40m was efficient enough at 07:00z but inter-G was not possible then. By afternoon it was 80% inter-G but generally needing a bit of power for success. 2m-FM is undemanding and changes little. It either works or it doesn’t with few marginal contacts and audio which is easy on the ear. The band provided many of the total ‘G’ contacts albeit over a relatively small area.
80m did not materialise either because of the broken dipole on NP7 or because 40 was assumed to do a better job around midday with increasing sunspot number. 4m was tried from NP1 briefly but without success at the end but also without a ‘real’ antenna. 4m was not taken up NP7.
The WX was benign throughout and thankfully nowhere near as warm as forecast. Views were good early but haze started to build around 10am. At night summits can be great places to be. A half moon shone down on NP7 and lights could be seen over to the northwest (probably Carlisle) and to the southwest. Sounds from below were evident until late and a noisy aircraft seemed to circle twice. Certainly lights could be seen moving at speed against the dark eastern valley side of Mallerstang. ‘Industrial’ sounds seemed to come in from the SE in the evening.
All in all this was a memorable expedition to two Pennine summits. The special Olympic callsign was aired and seemed to go down well. Hopefully it will be heard from another SOTA before it runs out in early September.
ASCENT & DISTANCE:
G/NP-007 Wild Boar: 427m ascent/ 6.6km (4.1 miles) to 702m spot ht. (432m/8km to summit trig & back)
G/NP-001 Cross Fell: 414m (1,358ft) ascent/ 9.3 km (5.8 miles) walked.
TOTAL: 841m (2,759ft) ascent/ 17.3 km (10.8 miles) walked.
Miles Driven: Scarborough to NP7: 107 miles.
NP7 to NP1: 27 miles.
NP1 to Scarborough: 121 miles.
Total: 255 miles (5hr-33 min.)
QSO’s from NP7:
16 on 160m -CW.
10 on 160m -SSB.
32 on 40m -CW.
5 on 40m -SSB.
23 on 2m-FM.
TOTAL NP7: 86 QSO’s.
QSO’s from NP1:
16 on 40m -CW.
34 on 40m -SSB.
2 on 160m -CW.
2 on 160m -SSB.
13 on 2m-FM.
TOTAL NP1: 67 QSO’s.
TOTAL: 153 QSO’s (NP7 & NP1).
Battery utilisation (from post op testing):
NP7 Wild Boar Fell:
11V, 8.8 Ah Li-Po 100% depleted.
11V, 8.8 Ah Li-Po 74% depleted.
(15.3 Ah used)
NP1 Cross Fell:
11V, 13.2 Ah Li-Po 93% depleted.
(12.3 Ah used)
Summit time NP7: 13hr. NP1: 3hr-35 min.
Walking time: 3 hr-32 min. (53min + 44min + 63min + 52min)
Driving time (inclusive of NP7 to NP1 drive): 5hr-33 min. (2hr-33min + 45min + 2hr-15min).
Logistics: 50 min. (Booting up, rucksack repacking etc.)
Home to home: 26hr-30 min.
14 activator points.
Thanks to all stations worked, especially the Top Banders who stayed up late and rose early and for unstinting and valuable telephone messaging via G4SSH. Also for spots from G0VOF, G4SSH, G3XQE and G4OBK. Thanks to Phil G4OBK for climbing a tree to re-erect his 160m antenna in time and to Mark G0VOF for providing his motorcycle/M 160m station for the afternoon chase. To anybody I’ve forgotten - thanks.
73, John G4YSS
(Using SSEG Olympic Games Callsign GO0OOO/P)