G4YSS:Seven G/LD's-65pts-8400ft 11-03-14

Seven G/LD`s - 65 Points - 8,400ft & 20 miles on 11-Mar-14.
(2,570m/ 32km.)
Draft-1 (needs further checks)

GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) on:

G4YSS Using GX0OOO/P (Unaccompanied).
Times: UTC.
2m-FM only.

After a similar effort in March 2009 http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=2965#foot which used high power activation on 80 and 160m for five of six summits along with some 4m band working, one possible aim was to further push some personal boundaries such as total ascent and SOTA activator points gained in a single day. I will be 65 in 4 months so I need to get these things done sooner rather than later. To make this as easy as possible, 2m-FM to an omni-vertical was the aim on this occasion.

Compared to 2009, the simple approach would more than halve the overall difficulty in that all the hard graft erecting and packing up a dipole fourteen times, to say nothing of time spent on four or five band/ mode combinations, would be eliminated. The amassing of winter bonus was the first priority. The other aims gradually became possible as the day developed.

A simple choice really. England only has three 10 pointers and twelve 8s that I can think of. The most efficient way (I know) of bagging 44 points in the UK and in winter is by doing the Patterdale Round. Any one or more of its four tops can be bypassed in an emergency and there are plenty of escape routes and good paths provided theres not too much ice around.

After that its just a case of adding single summits until you can walk no further or the time runs out. I short-listed a few from what were still available: NP3 Burnhope Seat; LD8 Blencathra and the handy` little 2-point Mell Fells LD35 and LD37. The decision would only be made after the return to Patterdale in the afternoon then continually reassessed after every subsequent activation.

One down-side to the Patterdale Round in March is the possible encountering of ice and snow, particularly on Swirral Edge and Coffa Pike. The inability to pass these points can snooker the whole enterprise at a stroke and I must say, because of the easily gained knowledge of much snow remaining on Helvellyn this year, some sleep was lost the night before.


You can`t just suddenly go out and do these things. Due to the wettest winter on record, my SOTA score did not advance at all from Mid December to late February but I have been walking around my local area on a daily basis all winter in an attempt to keep fit. A combination of 25 pounds personal weight loss and lightweight 2m-FM kit would help massively. Ongoing foot pain would just have to be ignored.

The greater the undertaking, the more critical weather becomes but the day was forecast to be clear and sunny with 2-5 deg.C temperatures and light winds. That could be considered perfect (apart from the sunshine) but it was way out of character considering the weather of the previous two and a half months.

Snow & Ice:
Helvellyn has had continual warnings of metre deep snow & ice to say nothing of cracked cornices throughout this winter. The hazards of Swirral Edge have been on an almost daily basis by the summit assessor, see http://www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk/ Not only that but would Coffa Pike and Fairfield be covered in sheet-ice like it was in 2005 when a 90 minute detour was required? Winter boots, crampons and an axe, would increase weight and difficulty. Had sufficient snow and ice melted by now? You can look on the internet all you like but the bottom line eventually becomes, Go, try it and see for yourself.

This was absolutely critical in 2009 but not as big an issue with simple 2m-FM activations.

First five summits:
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with BP217 Li-Ion detachable battery (7.4V - 1.3 Ah LD8 only.)
One 4.4 Ah Li-Po.
Home-brew external power connection block including volt-drop diodes and CB (Patterdale Round).
Jingtong JT208, 2m-FM H/H modified to take an Olympus 2Ah, Li-Po camera battery (not used).

Final two summits:
IC706-2G for 2m-FM/ 50 Watts on LD35 & LD37 only.
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po.

All summits:
J-Pole half-wave, home-brew 2m band vertical on short mast. (See discussion).

After a mostly sleepless night worrying about Helvellyns snow and ice, I left Scarborough for the 127 mile drive at 03:15 arriving via the A66, at Patterdale Pay & Display Car Park (GBP-4.50/ day) in daylight at 05:55. This was later than Id hoped but I was walking by 06:15. In the past I would be away before 05:30 and on LD3 just after 7am. Pre-hydration was with 1.2 litres of water and orange juice which didn`t help me feel any better but needs must. It was good to be walking after a journey with just a coat and hot-water bottle for comfort. The heater in my old banger has now almost completely packed up.

The 4-SOTA Round: (G/LD3-LD22-LD7-LD10)
I could see large patches of snow on the mountains just from the road in Patterdale. This was not very encouraging but I had the ice axe strapped to the rucksack and a pair of Grivel 10-point emergency instep crampons inside it. At 06:36, during the relentless ascent, spirits were lifted by a glorious sunrise. Fortunately it would be a some hours before sunshine had any detrimental effect on performance.

As I climbed the wall-stile at the Hole in the Wall, Swirral Edge with its 45 degree exit and vertical cornice, visible now, was looking really intimidating. Striding Edge had less snow but that way can take longer by up to an hour. I made my way past Red Tarn and onto the start of Swirral, looking nervously up and noting the potential difficulties ahead.

The snow was solidly frozen but its granularity offered reasonable grip. There were footmarks in the final snow ramp but I also relied on the security of the axe just in case of a slip. The final move onto the top of the cornice was the most exposed so I whacked in the axe and pulled up. The climb had taken 112 minutes to the trig point and it was now 08:07. The views were truly stunning. Gt.Gable (LD5) appeared to have retained little snow and Cross Fell (NP1) belied its distance.

On the way up I had taken note of Coffa Pike which was critical for the afternoon. It still had large patches of snow remaining on it but it looked like they might be safely circumnavigated. I didn`t think that his would be a problem later on but though minor, it was.

  1. HELVELLYN, G/LD-003, 950m, 10 pts, 08:07 to 09:01. Wind 5 mph, 2 deg C, 100% Sunshine. Large and deeply cracked frozen snow cornices on the eastern aspect. LOC: IO84LM, WAB: NY31. Great views would prevail from here and for the next four summits.

145.400 FM - 22 QSOs (LD3): For optimal VHF coverage, I set up at the cairn overlooking Red Tarn and not in the shelter which is shielded to the north. After phoning Roy with a 5-minute warning` I heard Colin G4UXH telling someone about my imminent arrival. Normally I would have worked him first but gave priority a mobile Geoff G4WHA/M on the M6 near Carlisle. Incoming signals were very strong with very few stations less than 59.

Reports in response to my 5 Watt signal ranged from 55 to 20 dB over 59 with a 51 from M3CTW - Fred in Holmfirth. Phil G4OBK in Pickering was reporting evidence of lift conditions and severe QSB on my signal but we made the QSO without difficulty. Mark G0VOF only just made it into the log before stepping out of the door for work. I must say that the name has never sounded very English to me but Roy M3RDZ thought Helvellyn was in Wales. Many of the stations worked would loyally follow me around the four summits of this initial batch. A third return to S20 yielded nothing further but there was a reluctance to leave such a magnificent mountain clothed as it was in the substantial remains of its winter coat.

LD3 to LD22:
My route to Seat Sandal saves time by cutting out Dollywaggon Pike, leaving the path at NY 3434 1320 and going cross-country over tussocky grass, via NY 3418 1262. Today I retained a little of the height advantage to walk to the bottom of the Dollywaggon wall path. This took me around the worst of the rough , boggy section which had caused minor difficulty on previous occasions. From the 574m col at NY 3438 1208, Seat Sandal can be assaulted up beside the wall-line. With much more sunshine to come, the beck at NY 34125 1269 was used to replenish an empty 500ml water bottle.

  1. SEAT SANDAL, G/LD-022, 736m, 6 pts, 10:04 to 10:31. 4 deg C. 5 mph wind. 100% sunshine. No lying snow. Grassy top. LOC: IO84LL. WAB: NY31.

145.400 FM - 13 QSOs (LD22): Of the mountains on this round, Seat Sandal boasts the least in stature and the QSO count perhaps reflects this fact. First into the log was Sue G1OHH with 59 from Lancaster. GW4ZPL called in from Bangor along with Dennis (long time - no hear) from Workington. Nr Manchester Airport` couple Tony and Sara (M3NHA & M6NHA) bagged their second of a set of four and I worked one S2S which was with GW4VPX/P on GW/MW-003 (51 signals). G4ZRP Brian gave me a 59 plus 60 dB report from the Wirral but I dare say that includes a large dose of preamp. After one or two returns to S20 it seemed that all the chasers who could hear me were now in the log.

I left LD22 an hour earlier than in 2009 but I was still a little behind my self imposed schedule for today; though catching up. The final part of the climb down is steep rocky & loose, then the route to LD7 follows a shaly zig-zag path. Since I was last on LD7, there has been a development in the form of a goodly section of well built stone steps.

With aching legs, I plodded lethargically upwards in the bright sunshine, perspiring and talking to a walker who was noticeably older than me but who also seemed to be going better. The company help to restore a by now poor frame of mind and thoughts of not having the energy to follow up this round later on because of the heat pervaded my head. True, the temperature was only around 5 degrees but the wind speed was low and the sun seemed to be weighing heavily on me and my psyche. It was a blessing that I wasn`t carrying an IC706, a mast & dipole and 18Ah of batteries as per 2009.

  1. FAIRFIELD, G/LD-007, 837m, 8 pts, 11:18 to 12:06. 5 deg C. 5 mph wind. 100% sunshine. A few snow patches; some substantial. LOC: IO84ML. WAB: NY31.

145.400 FM - 20 QSOs (LD7): Once again I aimed for the highest point before migrating a little way to a shelter to set up the vertical. Geoff G4WHA/A was crafty this time. He called me as I checked 145.400 prior to a CQ on S20. After a few more fixed stations, two summit-to-summit QSOs followed. The first was with our York friend Terry G0VWP/P who was on Pendle Hill G/SP-005 (57 reports) and later with GW4VPX/P on GW/NW-003 as before. By now Mark G0VOF/M was near the hospital in Blackburn and 2E0XYL worked me for the second time, having had to go out while LD22 was on the air. Judging by an incoming 51 report, Karen`s QSO with this summit was only just viable.

The 2.2 km walk to LD10 can take as little as 35 minutes. Today it took 52 and that was due to trouble with ice and snow. A huge patch of the frozen stuff blocked a section of path down Coffa Pike necessitating a detour down a steep and loose rock slope.

Just when I thought I was out of trouble another two of these sections impeded progress. Listening to the DAB radio, I had not been paying proper attention, passing to the wrong side of the ice and becoming trapped. There was nothing for it but to try to cross to the other side but this was 25 metres away and the snow was beginning to melt. The water produced was lubricating it somewhat.

Risking a significant slide, I took the axe from the backpack, ramming the handle point in as best I could in an attempt to safeguard an non-cramponed traverse. The problem was that the ice was too hard to allow much penetration but I found some deep and very handy ice-axe handle-shaped holes at intervals where somebody had attempted to do the same thing when the snow was softer. I had to climb around a boulder but reached safety without the delay of donning the emergency instep crampons that I was carrying.

After a third avoidance; easier this time, I reached the col where I met some people coming up. Coffa and its obstacles were clearly visible from here and the walkers looked concerned. I tried to reassure them by directing them to the left of the snow and ice but I will admit to some degree of trepidation while making this particular descent of Coffa.

  1. ST.SUNDAY CRAG, G/LD-010, 841m, 8 pts, 12:58 to 13:41. 8 deg C. Wind 7mph. 100% sunshine. LOC: IO84MM. WAB: NY31. Sizeable lying snow patches off the summit.

145.400 FM - 17 QSO`s (LD10):
With nobody around, the modest summit cairn was used to anchor the VHF mast; so much easier than dipole erection which I usually do on grass well short of the high point.

2E0XYL was first into the log this time; giving me a 41 report. I had warned the chasers about LD10`s poorer position but was pleasantly surprised that Karen could hear me at all with my 5 Watts to the omni. I worked many of the stations logged on the others including (surprisingly) Tony and Sara near Manchester Airport. M0JVW/M was new to me. Op John was sunning himself during his lunch hour on New Brighton sea front.

I heard the word Portable and this turned out to be Rob & Audrey S2S on Whitfell. Audrey was, Carrying the FT817 and the food I might add. A strong signal followed; the reason being that it was coming up from the Grisedale Valley below me. This was M1CTA Mike who was understandably interested in who was in his backyard and the method used to get there. 2E0EEY - Chris was static mobile at his work QTH in the south part of Leeds (51-51).

Colin G4UXH gave me the low down on his very lightweight FT90, 2m-FM QRO/m rig, which has a Yaesu approved software mod to help avoid PA failure by reducing power.

Just before the final chaser - Bob G6ODU, I worked an S2S with G1ZJQ/P on G/SB-008 which is probably a fairly rare one up in Tyneside. My signals to Derek were modest but useable. I must apologise if I sounded weary and slightly garbled from LD10. Though I still had almost a litre of water to go at, this was due to an ongoing problem of mine; not making the time to drink.

The schedule, written on a scruffy bit of paper told me that I must leave LD10 no later than 13:40 if there was to be half a chance of climbing LD8 Blencathra and returning in daylight though I had mentally accepted that anything further than that would have to be done in the dark. The walk-off LD10 is quite demanding in terms of distance and down-gradient but there were further steep patches of the white stuff to cross. Fortunately at this time of day, at worst of these consisted only of soft snow with the only danger; filling your boots. The majority could be avoided. I pocketed an attractive quartz crystal rock sample before leaving the summit.

The LD10-Patterdale path should be known to me like the back of my hand but somehow I managed to lose it lower down; just past a gate at NY 3854 1528. It seemed to end at a semi precipice. After wastefully doubling back I became annoyed and bailed off cross-country down steep, tussock, boggy ground on dead bracken and in a wide arc to where a stream runs across the Patterdale track, at NY 3899 1546.

I feared for the worst. If I could lose this path in bright sunshine, how would I fair trying to activate in the dark later on? Ankle bending as it was, this direct line was in effect a short cut which may on balance have saved a little time. I regained the car at 14:52, completing the drive to the Blencathra Centre by 15:20.

Weary, too warm and dehydrated, I was in no frame of mind to carry on, thinking that my limit might be just Little Mell Fell. A routine of re-hydration (downing 2.5 litres on the drive to LD8) electrolytes plus food transformed me back into a going concern. Nonetheless, I was still dreading the slog up Blencathra in strong sunshine and could still cheerfully have driven home to relax in a nice hot bath after my tea at the normal time of 5:30pm. Tempting as was, I had promised myself to go on until I dropped (well note quite that far) so onward and upward.

The 4.4 Ah Li-Po that had powered the IC-E90s 72 x 5 Watt QSOs on the last four summits was removed. Though much of it was psychological, substituting the BP217 (7.4V - 1.3 Ah) Li-Ion detachable battery would save weight. I took 0.75 litres of drinks up but after the recent flood didn`t need any.

I was walking for LD8 by 15:42. The route up Blease Fell is steep from its outset and 2,200 feet must be gained in altitude. The trouble with this start point is that you have almost a mile to walk along the top to the low trig point. The path undulates annoyingly along this section and this must be reversed on the way back.

About half way up, I phoned Roys G4SSH spotting service. Welcome to SOTA Control.` He was expecting me as I asked him for a 2m-FM spot for around 17:00. After arriving at the diminutive trig-point at 19:26 for the summit mugshot, I sat down at the top of the Halls Fell path, sticking the mast in the rucksack (the surface was too rocky) and setting up. I chatted to a runner with three dogs; one of which called Milo, showed a keen interest in the interior of my rucksack, where there was food. Another dog was a good looking husky which apparently, in keeping with instinct, had pulled the owner up many a mountain.

  1. BLENCATHRA, G/LD-008, 868m, 8 pts, 16:56 to 17:36, 8 deg C. 7 mph wind. Sunshine throughout the activation. Very little lying snow. IO84LP – NY32.

145.400 FM - 14 QSOs (LD8): Geoff, closeby in Penrith was first in with a 59 report. G0VOF/M Mark and John G0TDM followed. I thought the QSO with 2E0XYL (Cheshire) was quite some going with just 5 Watts from the summit. I was 51 to Karen. 2E0MIX who was in touch with G4UHX Colin via Skype, passed a request for a QSY from .400 (busy at Dereks end). I moved up one channel but either some strange fault with Derek`s rig, a quirk of propagation or overloading of my receiver, prevented any QSO. We eventually made it on .400 later.

Phil G4OBK (Pickering) got his 4th QSO of the day, giving a 52 report. So far he had only missed out on the low one LD22.

I know its quite a high one but tt was surprising how easily some chasers got through to this northern Lakes summit. For instance, 59 both ways from Sue G1OHH and Brian G4ZRP lamented that he could only give me 59 plus 20dB on this one. Colin G4UXH - Milnethorpe gave me a 57. The final station was Eamon GI0BDX - 2 miles north of Belfast` with a 57-55 exchange.

The Walk-off
Just after packing up, a young fellow arrived via Halls Ridge. He had come on the bus from Penrith where he was a chef. I was shocked by the high cost of the bus but much more impressed at this being his 364th ascent of Blencathra. Today was a round route` so we walked the length of the top chatting until he stopped for photography.

The time at the car was 18:18 which was ten minutes after sunset but I was rapidly off on the drive to Gt.Mell Fell in pursuit of a recently hatched plan. This was to do both Mell Fells rather than just NP3 which would have possibly proved even more difficult on VHF. I thought it was a neat plan to keep it in the family so to speak. All would then be LD summits and the drive to the Mell`s is much shorter.

Drive for LD35:
The 20 minute drive around to Great Mell Fell was not without its problems. My satnav and I had a serious disagreement a result of which were two U-turns on the A66 and one on the A5091. I thought the fact that it cost GBP-16 off ebay (broken) was the cause of its eccentricity but I must bow to technology. On later investigation, it seems that the satnav wins this one. I would have normally have quite enjoyed upsetting it but this had wasted precious minutes.

By the time I got parked (at NY 4073 2469) it was quite dark which made it harder to repack the rucksack with the appropriate gear for the job. Under the glare of a head lamp, in went the IC706-2G with an 8.8Ah Li-Po to run it. The 5 Watt IC-E90 was retained, this time merely as backup. That made the 2 Watt JT208 redundant so out it came. New log sheets were packed and the precious completed ones put in a safe place. Finally, the GPS got new batteries.

I had no worries about chasers being informed after asking Roy by phone to announce intentions, so I left the car at 18:57 for the half-hour ascent. A van was parked near where I had left my car and presently I was startled in the tree-lined dark dirt track by what turned out to be a lone female. I asked her if she had been up Great Mell Fell and she confirmed it; adding that it was a good idea to bring a torch - in reference to my headlight.

At NY 4035 2456 about 300m past the stile (NY 4053 2455) up the second (very muddy) track, I encountered a fallen tree which was completely blocking the space between a barbed-wire topped fence and an earth bank. Someone had hacked a hole in it and I passed through with minor difficulty. If I`d had an HF mast tied to the rucksack, I would have had to remove it. I remember this summit from old. The route is bad for overhanging branches knocking you off your feet at the best of times.

A path leads off to the right and all the way to the summit. Having not done this one since 2008, I expected trouble but I kept the path all the way. There are intersecting paths which can mislead a person on the way down but if you remember to take the right fork in all three instances it`s not too bad, even in the dark. The path is grassy but as you approach the top it becomes boggy. This walk was a further distance than I remembered or had really bargained for but finally the diminutive summit cairn (flash photo) came into the head lamp beam. This is the only SOTA summit that I can think of with trees in the activation area - good for HF but I had to be right at the pinnacle tonight. Setting up was quickly done as there was grass to stick the mast in. Coat on against a cold breeze and we were ready.

  1. GREAT MELL FELL, G/LD-035, 537m, 2pts, 19:28 to 19:50. 5 deg C. 7 mph wind. Dark with clear views and starlight. (IO84MO, WAB: NY32).

145.400 FM - 7 QSOs (LD35): Not known for its ability to cover the QTHs of many chasers, this SOTAs activation nevertheless yielded seven QSOs in as many minutes. The quick turnaround was down to Roy G4SSH and his earlier alert. Using 50 Watts from the IC706 to the vertical half-wave, the following stations were worked: G4WHA/M and G0TDM Geoff & John in Penrith; M0XSD and M6EPW Colin & Liz in Frizington; G4OBK Phil in Pickering; G4UXH Colin in Milnethorpe and G1CCL Dave in Morecambe. Thanks go to Liz for that extra QSO, which could have been vital to qualify LD35. I was 51 to both the Colins & Liz, 42 to Phil and 55 to Dave.

Drive for LD37:
It was already nearly 8pm and I still had to descend and do the last one. I was back revving the car for 20:12 and screeching to a halt at The Hause for Little Mell Fell by 20:20. The final ascent of the day commenced at 20:23 but once again the work had contracted in my mind. When I didnt arrive at the top immediatelyit started to become wearisome. Not only that but on climbing the stile from the road I found that I was up to myaxles in a disgusting deep sludge which wasnt that visible via the head lamp. This after keeping my boots almost clean all day. However, the filthy mess; a combination of vehicles on a boggy reed bed, could not be circumnavigated so I ploughed on regardless.

From there its over another stile (the gate beside it was open tonight) and up by a wooden sign informing Permissive Path. Left at the top then right again to the summit trig point. Its not far really but it took 15 minutes and quite a few stops tonight. Once that trig was in sight I felt like cheering. The only uphill walking left in a very long day would be into the car then over my front door step - sadly much later on.

  1. LITTLE MELL FELL, G/LD-037, 505m, 2 pts, 20:38 to 21:10. 5 deg C. 5 mph wind decreasing. Dark with clear views and starlight. (IO84NO, WAB: NY42).

145.400 FM - 6 QSOs (LD37): After photos of the trig point, the mast was stuck into the grassy surface. Coat went on for the final time in readiness for the radio bit. Even using 50 Watts, could I get the required four QSOs when everybody was relaxing in the evening? Straight back in response to a channel check on .400, was John G0TDM who spotted me. Though I`ve been up here in winter at well past midnight in the past, a familiar voice in a lonely, dark place is always comforting. After John came Geoff GM4WHA/M in Annan but then the frequency was clear.

A trip to S20 yielded nothing. I have never failed yet but was this the time? John offered his B call of G7GQL and I gladly snapped it up in the hope I wouldnt need to submit it merely to satisfy the SOTA database but not my sense of fairness. Thats when Phil G4OK called in. It was fortunate that he could hear me in Pickering - right over the Pennines from this small hill. My report was 54. I would have been grateful for 22 but the total still only stood at three (and a half?) QSO`s.

It was a great relief after such an monumental days activating that John G0TDM persuaded his XYL Eileen, who has not been near a radio transmitter for six years, to supply the vital qualifying QSO. Many thanks Eileen; you are a star. If nothing further occurred the job was done. Two minutes later Colin G4UXH called in with a 54 RS to make it five (or six if you like). Colin passed me over to Sue G1OHH who was fairly clear but weak. I sent back the report several times but sadly Sue was not hearing me. Either she had more power than I could muster or more likely, more noise. Further CQs on S20 had no effect.

It took 10 minutes to get down and I regained the car for the final time at 21:20. Sadly the boots were caked in filth and were in danger of polluting everything until they were captured by a carrier bag. They had to be washed later in the sink at home; an act which had to be carefully hidden from the XYL!

The drive home:
Though I had taken the precaution of packing a sleeping bag, the attraction of my own bed after a full day like this one was irresistible. The satnav was duly consulted, telling me I would arrive in Scarborough at midnight but this journey would be without the hot water bottle. In the event it was 23:59 when I finally reversed into the drive with freezing hands. Apart from extensive eastbound roadworks with an escorting vehicle on the A66, there was less than average traffic and only one car going my way on the A170 between Thirsk and home.

LD3-LD22-LD7-LD10: 1,510 m (4,953ft) of ascent / 19.1 km (12 miles) walked.
LD8: 656 m (2,152ft) of ascent / 2 x 3.9 km (4.9 miles) walked.
LD-035: 279m ascent / 2 x 1.8 km (2.2 miles) walked.
LD37: 125 m (410 ft) of ascent / 2 x 0.7 km (0.9 miles) walked.
TOTAL: 2,570 m (8,432ft) of ascent / 31.9 km (19.9 miles) walked.

Left Scarborough: 03:15
Arrived Patterdale P&D: 05:55
Walked from Patterdale: 06:15
LD-003 Helvellyn: 08:07 to 09:01
LD-022 Seat Sandal: 10:04 to 10:31
LD-007 Fairfield: 11:18 to 12:06
LD-010 St Sunday: 12:58 to 13:41
Returned Patterdale: 14:52
Drove away from Patterdale: 14:54
Arrived Blencathra Centre: 15:20
Walked for LD8: 15:42.
LD-008 Blencathra: 16:56 to 17:36
Returned Blenc Ctr: 18:18
Walked for LD35: 18:57
LD-035 Gt. Mell Fell: 19:28 to 19:50
Return Car: 20:12
Drove to The Hause: 20:13 to 20:20
Walked for LD37: 20:23
LD-037 L-Mell Fell: 20:38 to 21:10
Return to Car (LD37): 21:20
Drive for home: 21:30
Arrived Scarborough: 23:59

Walking times:
Patterdale to LD3:112 min (Ice)
LD3 to LD22: 63 min
LD22 to LD7: 47 min
LD7 to LD10: 52 min (Ice)
LD10 to Patterdale: 71 min.
Blencathra Centre to LD8: 74 min
LD8 to Blencathra Centre: 42 min
Car to LD35: 31 min (Dark)
LD35 to car: 22 min (Dark)
Car to LD37: 15 min (Dark)
LD37 to car: 10 min (Dark)

Total time spent walking: 8hr-59 min.
Average walking speed: 2.2 mph.
Summit Durations (minutes): 54+27+48+43+40+22+32 = 266
Total time spent at summits: 4hr-26 min.
Walking plus Summit time: 13hr-25 min.
Gross time (home to home): 20hr-44 min.

Sunrise: 06:36. Sunset: 18:08.
Distance driven: 286 miles.
Activator Points: 65
(Inc 21 pts. WB)

QRP pack: 9kg (19.9 pounds). First five summits.
QRO pack: 11kg (24.2 pounds). LD35 & LD37.
6 litres of fluids consumed through the day.
Max fluids carried: 1.75 litres.

LD-003: 22
LD-022: 13
LD-007: 20
LD-010: 17
LD-008: 14
LD-035: 7
LD-037: 6
Total: 99.

MAX Chaser Points:
A few stations e.g. Geoff G4WHA; John G0TDM and Colin G4UXH managed all 44 chaser points on offer. When I type in the log I may find others.

Cramming in seven LD summits into the day with 65 SOTA activator points was a first for me, beating my previous best by one summit. Personal total ascent in a day was increased by more than 1,000ft to over 8,400ft and the soon to disappear winter bonus was well exploited. This wouldnt have been possible with heavy HF QRO equipment and the time needed to deploy and use it. I know that its not good for a lot of the chasers but the simple 2m-FM approach adds a lot of freedom and allows the emphasis to move back to walking which is a pleasant change. I certainly do still like HF and will be going back to it in due course.

I had to resist the temptation to put on Top Band on the last one. If I had, I may well have got more than six QSOs but as it was, I didnt get to bed until 1am having got up at 3am.

This was as much a make it up as you go along escapade as a pre-planned operation. Only the first four summits of the Patterdale Round and their winter bonus were actual targets at the outset. Beyond that, it was just an awareness of what might be suitable to follow up with. My problem is that I dont react to pressure very well. The way I combat that is to commit only at the stage where I think a certain thing can be successfully carried through. My brain doesnt even give me the nod until the last minute.

99 QSOs on seven summits is on average very modest but QRP was used on the first five. 50 Watts on the last two hills didnt come close to compensating for their reduced stature, screened geographical position and the evening operating time. The WX was a big factor in a successful outcome and almost ideal for activating, if slightly too warm for me personally due to sunshine and light winds. The solution; I just need to actually drink the fluids I carry instead of leaving them in the rucksack. However I cant complain; the views were stunning all day and Helvellyn was magnificent. I am thankful and relieved that I managed to overcome its defences plus Coffa Pikes safely.

Dark walking and operating are by now well practiced but more care is needed and a path can be easily lost. My technique is to walk down while carrying the backlit GPS with the map screen and largest scale map selected, such that I walk back along the ascent track at all times. This presupposes that you found and followed the correct path on the ascent. If you take a different route down, or went wrong on the way up, that can`t be done.

Someone asked me about the antenna. I built it in 1998 and it consists of a 22 AWG tinned copper wire bent in J fashion and taped along both sides of an 8mm dia. GRP rod. At the top of the J is a socket which accepts the half-wave stainless steel welding rod radiator. The J-feed is heatshrink covered and the wire quite critical in its position. Coax (RG316) is soldered to the J section in the accepted manner. A stub on the GRP rod fits into a two section ali-tube mast; also home-brew. The sections hold together with an R clip and fit inside one another for carrying. It is light, quick and easy, has a good VSWR and seems to get out well.

It must be said, I was tired after this. Some adrenaline had to be summoned for the drive home.

THANKS to ALL STATIONS worked. Great support, encouragement, understanding and enthusiasm was shown and very much appreciated; to say nothing of the company.

Spotters: G4SSH; G4OBK; G0VOF; G1OHH; G4WHA; 2E0XYL and G0TDM - many thanks! Your efforts saved time and made that extra one possible. Once again, special thanks to Roy G4SSH for liaison and his (almost 24/7) Phone-a-Spot Service.

73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Callsign: GX0OOO/P)

In reply to G4YSS:

Amazing effort John. I will be 55 in a few weeks time so it’s encouraging to think that you can do all that at 64. Of course most of us will have to be working for many years after 64 :frowning:

See you at Norbreck?

73 Richard G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:
Trust me, at 73 it does not get any easier. Fortunately Audrey is much younger
(house points here) so has volunteered to carry the 817.
Keep plodding
Rob and Audrey

In reply to G4YSS:

Amazing John, I don’t know how you do it! Your ability to put “mind over matter” far surpasses my feeble attempts at 55. Very well done indeed!

I would have been able to work you on LD-022 but unfortunately had an appointment. I did hear you on LD-035 and called in several times (as did Bob G6ODU in Aughton) but it was obvious you were unable to hear us. I was only running 25w and didn’t have your height advantage, although Bob was running a little more - I guess the slight lift conditions were not working our way on the day.

Very many thanks for a superb effort and very well done on raising the bar yet again.

Karen 2E0XYL

In reply to G4YSS:
Impressive achievement John, and thank you for the detailed report, a very interesting read.


Absolutely outstanding John. Following a tip off from Roy, I had thought of you most of the day while at work and followed your progress for the last three from home. I bet you slept well after that lot!


Reply to ALL: Thank you for all the comments; appreciated.

Thanks for the reply Richard, Always a pleasure to hear from you. It’s just a case of forcing the old body to do things it doesn’t want to but simple 2m-FM gear helps. Quick and easy. As for working, it’s shocking to admit but from the day it started I just wanted to get it over with so I could start life! I was 16, an apprentice and in the office asking when I could join the superannuation scheme! Happy 55th when it comes around and good luck with an already successful business if you decide to stick at it? My advice: It’s always possible by some means or other, to get money but you can’t buy time back. I very much regret that I can’t be at the rally this year and I really love going. I will be on holiday and it’s been booked a year so give them all my best 73. Cheerio, John.

Hi Rob, Yes, it’s hard to accept when my component parts start packing up. I never wanted to be a human. A mechanical body with replaceable units should be the norm by now. One thing for certain. I am terrified by medical stuff, hospitals, doctors and needles. Insanely frightened, I don’t mind admitting. Now they seem to be mining cholesterol from me! Seems it’s over abundant so I have had to knock massive midnight feasts on the head. Oh well, we soldier on but I may need someone to carry my rig soon too! 73, John.

Hi Karen, It is certainly more a mental thing than physical, this activating business. It helps that I don’t suffer blisters etc but a long stride is a boon. Fewer operations of the system produce more distance. Sorry about LD35 and to Bob too. I did turn the squelch off at times but nil. Last time I worked you from Mells it was from the little’un and I had 50W to a vert 3-ely. This time it was the same RF to an omni but maybe Great Mell is not as good as Little? Though it’s smaller, I have long thought that LD37 looks around the corner in the Carlisle direction better. Though that is opposite to where you live, valleys may align better? I will bear it in mind. If it happens again I will try to use a beam provided I have the energy/ time to assemble it. 73, John.

OK Adrian, Thanks for reading. Must take a while. Sorry I have taken so long to get around to replying to these comments. It’s been a busy Feb/ March for bonus. I cringe when I put them on, half expecting the SOTA MT to ask me for a contribution towards the webspace etc. Quite a few read these tomes but not all reply. Sometimes I get the odd email regarding them but I do them primarily for my own records. It’s useful to be able to look back. What did I do last time? etc. I enjoyed this expedition but didn’t sleep at all well after it. Sorry you were out of range of these activations. 73, John.

Hiya Nick - fellow 400 Clubber! Sorry you had to work but it wouldn’t have been any good trying to chase me on FM from down by the hospital even with a bit of lift which I think existed that day. Phil seemed to manage it pretty well though but he’s ‘well appointed.’ Strange as it may seem, I was far too hyped to sleep for a couple of days afterwards and the one before. Bet you are looking fwd to your holiday abroad. I still have a lot to get ready and Hazel’s fence has blown down! Great to work you on 160 a while back! 73, John.