Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

G4yss six & 60:ld37-ld3-ld22-ld7-ld10-ld8 15-03-09

G4YSS Activation Report for 15-Mar-09
(Shortened Report: Ref to Full Report for more detail)

LITTLE MELL FELL, HELVELLYN, SEAT SANDAL, FAIRFIELD, ST. SUNDAY & BLENCATHRA.
SOTA’s: G/LD-037, G/LD-003, G/LD-022, G/LD-007, G/LD-010 & G/LD-008.

SIX G/LD’s, 60 points and 7,400 ft of ascent on 15-Mar-09.
Bands: 160m CW, 80m CW/SSB & 4m FM.
G4YSS Using GX0OOO/P. Times: UTC.

WHY? You may ask.
The basic aim was to further extend the personal boundaries; not least in the ‘total ascent’ department. I will be 60 in 4 months and I’m starting to feel the need to get ‘stuff’ done now rather than later! My UK activator ‘points earned in a day’ was something else which needed further attention. Finally I was keen to get three of these tops (LD22-LD7-LD10) onto Top Band.

If I was ever going to better the 51 points gleaned from 5 UK SOTAs on 7th March 2007 (See http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=199#) now had to be the time.

WHAT SUMMITS?
Points-wise, there’s only so much you can do in English SOTA. We only have three 10 pointers and twelve 8’s that I can think of. So what could be done to meet the aims?

The Patterdale Round
It’s the most efficient way (I know) of bagging 44 points in the UK and in winter. Any one or more of its 4 tops can be bypassed in an emergency and there are plenty of escape routes and good paths provided there’s not too much ice around. After years of 2m FM, I tried the Round on HF in winter 2007, employing my brand new FT817ND QRP rig on 80m / 40m CW / SSB. That was lightweight QRP but the question arises; could a Round like this be done with QRO, essential for daytime 160m?

IN WHAT ORDER?
One idea was to precede the Patterdale Round as well as following it? Any major work prior to a big round might jeopardise it so what about LD37 (L-Mell) as a ‘starter for five?’ But how is that possible when I need to set off walking to Helvellyn before 05:30? How many chasers will be around at 2:30 am? Logic says; do LD37 just after midnight then let me & the chasers get some rest. Sleep in the car after positioning it in Patterdale before 2am. Fall out of ‘bed’ at around 5am and be QRV on LD3 at 07:30.

One question remaining was what to add afterwards. I short-listed a few from what were still available: NP15-4 Gt. Knoutberry; NP3-6 Burnhope Seat; LD17-6 Red Screes; LD8-8 Blencathra. The final decision would not need to be made until the return to Patterdale in the late afternoon.

PREREQUISITS?

Training:
You can’t just suddenly go out and do these things. After having my most pathetic winter bonus period ever with the last activation nearly a month behind me, the outlook was bleak. I covered 46 miles in the 16-days prior but could walks to Scarborough via local high-points possibly be enough? Pacing would be needed if energy was going last long enough to complete the task.
Power:
Since last autumn an 8.8 Ah Li-Po battery has become a feature. It will cover two summits with HF two-band QRO and manageable pack weights. In theory, the doubling of available power to 17.6 Ah would easily cover the 4 summits required for the Patterdale Round. To my mind, there is a point (around 14kg of pack weight) at which multi-summit activations suddenly become a pain. That ruled Lead-Acid batteries out.
Foot pain:
Possibly due to the boot inserts Jim (G0CQK) told me about, pain has receded greatly but how would a big workup like this affect a troublesome right foot?
WX:
The greater the undertaking, the more critical it becomes. Not a great winter for this. Would there be a ‘window’ before the end of WB? It wasn’t looking good.
Snow & Ice:
Helvellyn has had its fair share with dire warnings of ice, cracked cornices and even wind-slab; all rather off-putting. Would Coffa Pike be sheet-ice like it was in 2005 when a 90 minute detour was required? The extra weight of winter boots, crampons and an axe, added to QRO gear would put this escapade right out of my court. Was the melt here in time?
Time:
Absolutely critical. QRO walk times are greater and two or three issues like the WX, band conditions, contests, too many ‘non-chasers,’ or ‘frequency pinching’ could push No 6 right out of the frame. Twelve operations with mast, antenna, spots and finding a clear channel, would add up to a ‘dead time’ of almost 3 hours.
Victuals:
I’m not in the habit of bothering most times (except emergency rations) but some food would be needed when faced with a 12-hour sortie away from the vehicle. The other consideration is water but if this was done in winter with good pre-hydration and rigid attention to ventilation, 2 litres might just be sufficient.
Confidence:
Never great.

EXECUTION:
Though all activations were planned for the 15th, this would in effect be an operation spanning two days, so I left Scarborough at 18:57 on Saturday 14th March, driving via the A66 to a point south of LD37 (NY 4234 2353) by 21:43.

The forecast said it would be windy on the 14th but it was howling through trees and shaking the parked car. Little Mell’s conical summit would be pitch black & bare but for a trig point and a shallow hollow. ‘Let’s cancel LD37.’ If fact why not the whole thing?’ ‘It was a stupid idea anyway; nearly as bad as the Lyke wake Walk’ ‘Phone Roy now and do it’ but at around 22:40, in the space of 5 minutes the moon became visible and the gusty wind dropped from around 40 mph to less than 15. Confidence crisis over!

Mell & Me at Midnight:
I didn’t want to qualify LD37 on the 14th then be left with a zero score for the 15th so the plan was to set up just prior to midnight but not to start operating until 00:00. I knew L-Mell Fell was an easy one but a 23:21 exit from the car proved to be too early. Even in the dark, the aerial went up quicker than I thought it. I was ready for QRV at 11:45 and used up the spare time taking ‘shaky’ photographs of the lights of Penrith below.

  1. LITTLE MELL FELL, G/LD-037, 505m ASL, 2 pts, 23:32 on Saturday 14-03-09 to 00:46 on Sunday 15-03-09. 6 deg C, 15 mph wind. Dark with hazy moonlight. (IO84NO, WAB: NY42) IC706-2G QRO – 7.5 Ah SLAB.

160m CW (LD37):
Back came G4OBK to my ‘QRL?’ at 599. After Phil, Roy G4SSH called in at 559. The digits changed to 00:00. I sent ‘It’s Sunday’ then promptly worked them again for double points. Then the following: G3WPF, EI7CC, GW0DSP, EI2CL, G3RQD, G0EHO, G4BLH. Tom M1EYP called with brilliant and quick CW. Power was 40 to 100W.
80m CW (LD37):
The only stations who called in at 00:16 on 3.532 were Phil & Roy again but they were much weaker than on Top Band. The 80m band NVIS simply wasn’t ‘working’ this late.
80m SSB (LD37):
Another disappointment. Even G4OBK was only 57? Unheard of! After Phil, Geoff G6MZX came in, then G4JZF using GB40WAB. Later, Carolyn G6WRW and Roger G4OWG called but I don’t think either received their reports. After much CQing, I QRT’d at 00:37. I really must praise the loyalty of the chasers on this occasion. Knowing full well that they would have to be out of bed by 07:30 if they were going to bag LD3, they still stayed up to work me for 2 pts. After photos of the moon and trig point, I regained the car by 00:54 then drove to Patterdale (NY 3899 1595) for 01:20.

My ‘Hotel’:
No sleeping board, I just reclined the seat. Coats don’t make good blankets and all the things that might go wrong later crowded in, ‘No way will you make it with all that weight; use QRP!’ ‘You’ll never get up Swirral without crampons!’ I was ‘up’ at 04:55, and going through a mental checklist. After forcing down 1.5 litres of water, I put an additional 1.8 ltr in my pack.

The 4-SOTA Round: (G/LD3-LD22-LD7-LD10)
I left Patterdale pre-dawn at 05:23 ‘armed’ with my 706 and 17.6 Ampere-Hours of Li-Po. A full moon was illuminating the cloud tops, saving the headlamp. Day arrived around 06:00. There was plenty of snow at the Hole in the Wall but from what I could see, the small amount of it higher up was encouraging. Swirral Edge was quite easy and large patches of snow could mostly be avoided. The melt of the last few days had worked its magic. There were very few footmarks in the cornice so I kicked steps just to be sure. The climb had taken 110 minutes and it was now 07:13. I had no worries about using the summit shelter and the snow in it was ideal for sticking the mast into.

  1. HELVELLYN, G/LD-003, 950m, 10 pts, 07:13 to 08:52. Wind 15 mph, 1.5 deg C, low-cloud. No lying snow on summit but large cornices on eastern aspect. LOC: IO84LM, WAB: NY31. IC706-2G QRO -11 Volt, 17.6 Ah Li-Po.

160m CW (LD3):
With no phone service, I just had to call CQ but the 1.8 MHz specialists were up early. David G3RDQ was first on 1.832 at 579. Other stations worked were G4BLH, G0TDM (G7GQL / GX0ANT), EI7CC, G3RMD, G4SSH, EI2CL, G4OBK with Peter G3TJE ending the session. Just 40 Watts were needed.
80m CW (LD3):
3.532 showed a vast improvement on midnight with17 chasers worked. Roy G4SSH was first at 07:55. Representing Europe were: DL2DXA, HB9BHW, SM7NDX, DL1FU, DJ5AV, DL1MDU, ON4CAP, LA1ENA and SM6CMU. The rest were G’s both close-in and far away.
80m SSB (LD3):
Oh dear, what a racket on 3.724 and no space. After a lot of trouble Geoff G6MZX found me but once Carolyn G6WRW and Mike GW0DSP had been logged, I was forced to QSY to 3.690. Six more followed me down. Carolyn and Helen M0YHB were heading for an activation of their own. Power: 30 to 50W.
4m FM (LD3):
An ‘on the hoof’ CQ using the IC-E90 on 70.450 FM got me MW1FGQ (59/59) but Mike G4BLH struggled to give me a 41. The last QSO was with G8CXR, G8CXM or G4CXM? The log wasn’t available. 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. I found a laminated 1:25k map near here; anybody lost one? From the 574m col at NY 3438 1208, Seat Sandal can be assaulted up the wall-line.

  1. SEAT SANDAL, G/LD-022, 736m, 6 pts, 09:57 to 11:34. 8 deg C. Overcast / hazy sun. 10 mph wind. Tiny patches of snow by walls only. Grassy top. LOC: IO84LL. WAB: NY31. IC706-2G QRO -11 Volt, 17.6 Ah Li-Po.

160m CW (LD22):
With good Orange phone coverage, I was able to use Roy’s brilliant ‘Fone-a-Spot’ service but it was 10:23 by now. Even more salient was that G4OBK had to go out so I expected little. A 100W CQ got me G0TDM. After John: GW0DSP, G3RDQ and finally ON4CAP with the most miniscule signal imaginable.
80m CW (LD22):
3.532 pulled in 11 mixed G & overseas ops including ON4ON & ON4CAP. DL1FU called early but not until the end did I hear ‘QSL, 339, 339. FB - 73!’ One problem with LD22 and its wall is that it’s far too comfortable. I had to remind myself of what I still had left to do.
80m SSB (LD22):
Geoff G6MZX detected me again on 3.724 and the 80m band was as good as it ever gets with 59 reports abounding. That was after a QSY to 3.690 though. Carolyn GW6WRW and Helen MW0YHB called S2S from GW/MW-003. M3EYP, Jimmy’s radio procedure is i.a.w. ‘the book.’ I think we can all still learn from the younger ones. 20 Watts were sufficient and Gerry G4UOS finished us off at 11:10.
4m FM (LD22):
John MW1FGQ was monitoring 70.450 FM again and it was 59 both ways but with no sign of Mike G4BLH. An S2S with MW6ADL/P Tony on GW/NW-054 followed. He was using a horizontal dipole. I left LD22 at 11:34. The final part of the climb down is steep, rocky & loose but the route to LD7 follows a shaly zig-zag path. I plodded lethargically upwards perspiring profusely.

  1. FAIRFIELD, G/LD-007, 837m, 8 pts, 12:21 to 14:12. 5 deg C. 20 mph wind with some hazy sunshine/ o-cast. Very few snow patches but large remains of cornicing at the eastern lip. LOC: IO84ML. WAB: NY31. IC706-2G QRO -11 Volt, 17.6 Ah Li-Po.

I sat in the airstream on the edge overlooking Cawk Cove. Though stony, the grass there accepted the mast but I had a big convex snow-slope at my feet. It was the sort of place where you don’t want to put anything down. Thankfully, Coffa Pike looked clear of snow & ice!

80m CW (LD7):
3.532 brought in 16 chasers but the only non-G / EI stations were ON4ON and S51ZG. Skip was at its shortest, bringing the G’s in at 599. The 18 minute session ended with G3OHC at 13:03. Power was 20w except for ‘lost sheep’ and incoming reports were mostly 559. A QSO with G4OWG was disrupted because a strong ‘G’ repeatedly called CQ on the freq. from about 12:55.
A Visitor:
A young lady in her 20’s strode purposefully up and sat down beside me to find out just what was going on. She’d seen this kind of thing happening once in the Welsh Mountains. She asked many questions, so I’m sorry that it took me 15 minutes to QSY to SSB. This was a pleasant interlude and my advice to all young men is; try carrying a dipole made from pink 24 AWG around with you! As for me; I guess at my age, I just look ‘safe.’
80m SSB (LD7):
Graham was using GB40WAB again and had told me about a death and illness in his family. Let’s hope things improve for you soon Graham. Tom M1EYP was next up, with Jimmy a few QSO’s behind his Dad. I had an S2S at 13:25 with John GM8OTI/P on GM/SS-254. Andre ON4CAP and Luc ON6DSL called from afar. John GW4BVE told me that he was writing an account on NVIS ops and the last caller was ‘would be’ activator M5ZZR Mel in Dover, so I mentioned ‘sota.org.uk.’ Power was 30W with 100W for a few and I had 16 QSO’s.
160m CW (LD7):
GI4FLG was followed by Reg G3WPF; always a strong signal. John G0TDM (G7GQL / GX0ANT) brought up the rear. I put big power on, 160 was at its worst just now.
4m FM (LD7):
True to form John MW1FGQ was again logged at 59, though my RS had reduced to 55 on this one. I then worked ‘Ray in Preston’ whose callsign I wrote down as G4CXM/M but can’t be sure I got that right? Mike G4BLH wasn’t heard again so I would not work him from LD10 either. The 2.2 km walk to LD10 can take as little as 35 minutes. Today it took 44.

  1. ST.SUNDAY CRAG, G/LD-010, 841m, 8 pts, 14:56 to 16:27. 9 deg C, sunshine then overcast, 15 mph wind. LOC: IO84MM. WAB: NY31 again! Sizeable lying snow patches. IC706-2G QRO -11 Volt, 17.6 Ah Li-Po.

I walked on a few metres past the summit and found a large snowfield in which to stick the mast. By now I was becoming a little weary of this repetitive routine with the antenna.

80m CW (LD10):
G4SSH was first in the log on 3.532. The first half of the battery (8.8 Ah’s worth) failed abruptly after the second QSO (with GI4FLG.) and it was 6 minutes before I could swap it. I’d lost my QRG but re-established on 3.530 to work 22 in 22 minutes. Amongst Gs & EI, there was: SM6CMU; DL1FU; HB9BHW and HB9RE. The first 8.8 Ah had completed 3-activations so with power worries behind me I set the rig to 60W for most QSOs.
80m SSB (LD10):
Geoff G6MZX led off once again on 3.724. At a rate of one per minute, 17 chasers followed him into the log by 16:01. There were questions about a 6th summit. I couldn’t decide then, though I did drop some strong hints.
160m CW (LD10):
By now, things were improving on 1.832 and the following stations bagged the third ‘never before on 160’ summit on offer: G4OBK, G0TDM (G7GQL / GX0ANT), EI2CL, G4BLH, DJ5AV, G3RMD, G0NES and G3WPF. Thanks to the chasers, all the SOTAs on this round have now been activated on 160m.
4m FM (LD10):
Nil QSO’s. I just couldn’t quite get a report over to a station in Kendal with a double-letter callsign, though his 25 W was pushing me 59. He tried very hard but we had to give up in the end.

In 2007 I set a deadline to leave LD10 no later than 16:30 if there was to be half a chance of climbing the (then) fifth summit in anything other than pitch darkness. The same applied today for my number 6. The walk-off LD10 is quite demanding in terms of distance and gradient so I could only decide back at Patterdale. The day was beginning to fade by the time I regained the car at 17:31 but I’d arrived 3 minutes earlier than in 2007.

MIND OVER MATTER:
So I was pretty much in the time frame for another summit, but what would it be? I was a little weary so should I take an easy one? NP3? NP15? An essential routine of re-hydration, electrolytes, a little food and a rig change came next. I was sure to feel better afterwards but what I really needed was complete ‘refit!’

Suddenly I found I’d committed and it would be nothing but the best I could manage. Though I’d be driving even further from home, the 8-point LD8 Blencathra would round things off to a nice, neat 60 points for the day and guarantee to smash my previous best in the ascent stakes too (of personal importance). That said there would certainly be no attempt to carry QRO from this point on. Out went the IC706 with its 17.6 Ah Li-Po. In with the FT817 and an 11 x 2.7 Ah AA Ni-Mh pack. New batteries for the GPS made that item reliable in case of low-cloud after dark and a better coat got packed. I left Patterdale at 17:45 for the Blencathra Centre (NY 3026 2565) arriving at 16:08 but 2 litres of fluids went down the hatch first.

To be absolutely honest, I didn’t feel too bad but I had no idea what would happen. Maybe my legs would simply buckle under me. I dared not phone Roy for a spot until I was sure just how it would be.
Now for the ‘mind over matter’ routine. The sky was dimming more with every minute. Dusk looks like dawn so I told myself. ‘This is your first one of the day, you just drove from home after a good night’s sleep, so get on with your single SOTA and enjoy it.

The final ascent:
I was walking for the last one, LD8 by 18:15. The route is steep from its outset; I had over 2200 feet of ascent ahead of me but somehow that good ‘telling-off’ had worked wonders. Blencathra’s Blease Fell route is OK for dark walking and after a grassy start there are stony zig-zags higher up. Having made it up to the west end of the mountain, you then have almost a mile to walk along its 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 Roy’s G4SSH spotting service. ‘Welcome to SOTA Control.’ He may have been expecting me as I asked him for one last spot on 3.532 at 19:45. Cars on the A66 looked like Dinky toys from up here as I photographed the lights of Keswick.

After arriving at the diminutive trig-point at 19:26 for the summit mugshot, I backed-off to a flat grassy area to erect the antenna. It was pitch black but the wire went up easily. In the dark the mast must be judged vertical when the two reflectors finish one above the other in the headlight beam. There are no guys. Once the GPS route had been reversed in readiness for the descent, it was time for the final radio session.

  1. BLENCATHRA, G/LD-008, 868m, 8 pts, 19:26 to 20:37, 5 deg C, 15 mph wind, no low cloud or lying snow but pitch black. IO84LP – NY32. (FT817ND QRP-5W to link dipole.) 6th & FINAL SOTA!

80m CW (LD8):
Roy was straight back to my ‘QRL?’ which made for a good start. The FT817 has a digit for announcing the ‘S’ Number and it reached 9 for almost all callers. Good job too with only 5W from this one. 13 regular chasers romped in on 3.532. I should apologize for my keying. I was using a different radio in the evening and a completely different key and speed. This took a little getting used to. I thought I’d hear much more from Europe but regrettably, only Mike DJ5AV called in.
80m SSB (LD8):
What a racket on 3.724. Roy suggested 3.679 over the phone and he duly spotted it. Commencing with Steve GW7AAV, stations were calling me in no time. 12 were worked and all had big signals, which made reporting easier. Despite QRM, the band was now in fine fettle but many chasers would not see these late spots. Maybe my earlier hints weren’t sufficient. Thank you for all the encouraging comments during this (& other) sessions. Apologies to those who missed out because they thought I’d gone home.
160m CW (LD8):
At long last after 21 hours of endeavour, we had finally arrived at the final session. Just the Top-Banders remaining and I could get down and go home. Four called in and were logged in 4 minutes: G4OBK, G0TDM, G3WPF and very appropriately after all his hard work, missed meals and lack of sleep; Roy G4SSH came in to wrap it all up.

The Walk-off
It took 10 minutes to pack up and ‘forever’ to get down but there was at least no low-cloud. Eventually, my headlight caught the car number plate at 21:35. I suddenly realised all was completed. Now I could finally stop worrying and start to enjoy the rest of my day!

From the M6-A66 junction to Scarborough, I only caught up 4 cars and they were all in Pickering. Empty roads made the drive home a delight for once but a heady mix of euphoria, relief and contentment played its part too.

Six LD Summits: 60 English SOTA activator points (inc.18 winter bonus) with 7,400 ft ascent, as follows:

ASCENT & DISTANCES:
LD37: 125 m (410 ft) of ascent / 2 x 0.7 km (0.9 miles) walked.
LD3-LD22-LD7-LD10: 1,476 m (4,842ft) of ascent / 17.7 km (11 miles) walked.
LD8: 656 m (2,152ft) of ascent / 2 x 3.9 km (4.9 miles) walked.
TOTAL: 2,257 m (7,405ft) of ascent / 26.9 km (16.8 miles) walked.

G0CQK GPS Tracklog Analysis: 2,253 m (7,378ft) ascent / 26.7 km (16.6 miles) walked.
Jim is thanked for this valuable help and for calculating the average walking speed of 2.0 mph.

CHRONOLOGY (14 to 15-Mar-09)
Left Scarborough: 18:57 (14-03-09)
Arrived LD37 start-point: 21:43
Walk for LD37: 23:21
LD-37 L-Mell Fell: 23:32 to 00:46 (15-03-09)
Return to Car (LD37): 00:54
Drive away: 01:06
Arrived Patterdale: 01:20
Walked from Patterdale: 05:23
LD-3 Helvellyn: 07:13 to 08:52
LD-22 Seat Sandal: 09:57 to 11:34
LD-7 Fairfield: 12:21 to 14:12
LD-10 St Sunday: 14:56 to 16:27
Returned Patterdale: 17:31
Drove away from Patterdale: 17:45
Arrived Blencathra Centre: 18:08
Commenced LD8 Walk: 18:15
LD-8 Blencathra: 19:26 to 20:37
Returned Blenc Ctr: 21:35
Drive for home: 21:41
Arrived Scarborough: 24:00 (15-03-09)

Walking times:
Car to LD37: 11 min
LD37 to car: 8 min
Patterdale to LD3: 110 min
LD3 to LD22: 65 min
LD22 to LD7: 47 min
LD7 to LD10: 44 min
LD10 to Patterdale: 64 min.
Car to LD8: 71 min
LD8 to Car: 58 min

Total time spent walking: 7 hr-58 min.
Total time spent at summits: 9 hr-3 min.
Walking plus Summit time: 17 hr-1 min.

Drive from Patterdale to Blencathra Ctr
and preparation for LD8: 44 min.
Gross time (home to home): 29 hr-3 min.

Sunrise: 06:22. Sunset: 18:18.
Distance driven: 272 miles.

EQUIPMENT:
IC706-2G, adjustable link-dipole with160m loading-coils. (First 5 summits)
FT817ND with 11 x AA 2.7 Ah Ni-Mh external battery pack (LD8 only)
5m H/B CFC mast with 1m CFC end supports.
One 7.5 Ah SLAB for LD37 (62% depleted).
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for LD3, LD22 & LD7 QRO. (100% depleted).
One 8.8 Ah Li-Po for LD10 QRO (38% depleted).
IC E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 2m set-top helical extended for 4m.
ICOM BP217 Li-Ion detachable battery (7.4V - 1.3 Ah)

PACK WEIGHTS:
QRO pack: 12kg (26 pound). LD37 only.
QRO pack: 11kg (24 pound). LDs: 3-22-7&10
QRP pack: 8kg (18 pound). LD8 only.

QSO’S: (All six summits qualified on 160m.)
48 on 160m CW.
81 on 80m CW.
71 on 80m SSB.
7 on 4m FM. (LD3-LD7-LD10 only)
Total: 207.

MAX Points:
Just three stations G4SSH (Roy), M6MZX (Geoff) and GW0DSP (Mike), worked me on all six summits gaining the maximum chaser score of 42 points. Roy actually gained a total of 44 points because he was one of only two stations to work me on the 2-point LD37 just prior to midnight.

DISCUSSION:
Thank goodness that the plan (2-years in the making) had been executed and nothing had gone wrong after all. I could only laugh about cramming in six LD summits and gaining 60 SOTA activator points with just 3 hours of winter bonus remaining. The success in extending my personal figure for ‘total ascent in a day’ to around 7,400 feet was the jewel in the crown for me.

This wouldn’t have been possible with 6 or 7 kg of SLABs that would have been needed if I hadn’t had the 17.6 Ah Li-Po weighing 1.6 kg. The lightened 706 helped too.

Pacing helped but the 1.8 ltr of water taken on the 4-SOTA Round was just barely adequate making pre-hydration (1.5 ltr) and re-hydration (2 ltr) essential to success.

Other things on my side were experience (what a lot of it there is about in SOTA these days) and familiarity with equipment coming from years of just doing it. These come free and don’t have to be worked at because we in SOTA enjoy building on them.

Confidence is massively important too but it is also my particular Achilles heel; fickle in the extreme.

207 QSO’s on 6 summits is modest by contemporary standards. G1INK would have logged 500 or more! However, the main aims were not particularly QSO’s but those described above. In 2009, 160m was substituted in place of 40m in 2007. If anything, the 80/160 effort was easier (in radio terms) but it needed to be. 4m FM was just a bit of ‘icing’ and light relief.

I would have loved to have added 40m CW and 2m FM to the bands today but it might have doubled the QSOs and I would never have got round.

In the end, the WX was as close to ideal as it could possibly have been. There was barely any sunshine and the low-cloud was confined to Helvellyn. Single-figure temps and cold but brisk breezes with no precipitation. I couldn’t have ordered it better and WX was a big factor in a successful outcome.

Acknowledgements:
THANKS to ALL STATIONS worked, for your efforts to maximise QSO rates. Chasers were up until 1am then back at 7. That unstinting support was really appreciated (as it always is).

Spotters: G4SSH, G4OBK, DL5WW, G3WPF & M1EYP – many thanks! Your efforts saved me time and made that ‘extra one’ possible.

Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for liaison and his ‘Phone-a-Spot’ Service. What a long, full day for you.

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

(4600 short - 8600 full)

In reply to G4YSS:

John
Thank you for the most interesting reports on your G/LD activations on 15 March. It was a great pleasure to have worked four of the six especially because three were on a very noisy 160m.

73 de Mike, EI2CL

Hi John,

Great report, there are 2 things you need to correct could you correct NP8 to LD8 and could you change G4FLG to GI4FLG.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to EI2CL & M3EYP:

Hi Mike,
Sorry you didn’t work all of them. Looks like you missed LD7 & LD8. LD7 was shortish skip in early afternoon on 80m and a poor showing for 160m. I didn’t confidently expect you on 160 at that time but I thought you might make it on 80; Pete reached me. On LD8, I had just 5W but you may have not seen the spot anyway. 40m would have been a good addition but it might have cleared your QTH at times. No time for it, I’m afraid.

I fully sympathise with you about noise. My QTH is terrible nowadays. If I were to become a chaser I couldn’t do much with HF. It would have to be VHF (from the bottom of a valley.)

Hello Jimmy,
Thank you very much for the loan of your eagle eye. I have now corrected the errors and I am grateful you showed me them. After hours and hours of staring at lines of print you just read what you thought you’d written, what your eye expects to see but not what’s actually there. At least I have GI4 not G4 in the log/ database.

The report took much longer than the actual event and I only type one-fingered, at times even hunting for the letters. My son phoned two errors in to me earlier but there might well be more. Good job we can edit. We never could on the old Yahoo Reflector.

73, to both & thanks for calling in and for your replies here,
John YSS

Astonishing achievement John. I do a bit of night walking/activating, and the occasional multi-activation route, but doubt I could aspire to the mental toughness and physical fitness to even dream up such a staggering plan.

Incredible. And with loads of contacts, and with 160m too. Just incredible.

Many thanks for the breathtaking account of a breathtaking expedition.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G4YSS:

John,

What a masterpiece of a report. It took me 3 sessions to read it and I will no doubt have to go through it again to ensure that I have taken it all in. Well done on the activations - a superb piece of planning and execution. You have now raised the bar. Sorry to have missed it all (away for the weekend).

73, Gerald

P.S. I didn’t see mention of what could have been the hardest part - the drive home! No doubt you were running on a mix of adrenalin and endorphins.

In reply to G4YSS:

I’ve been busy the last day or two and only just got around to reading your excellent report John, and much enjoyed. I haven’t visited most of the summits you activated but I hope to get a few more under my belt this week. I will wimp out from HF as I will be with my XYL - to quote Mike GW0DSP “The activator is King”.

The laminated map could be mine - but I doubt it. I lost one (Memory Map - I usually print and then laminate at the 1:12500 scale) after doing Helvellyn LD-003 on 21st October. It flew off Dollywagon as I was putting on gloves but it went down eastwards into The Tongue the other way to where you found your one. I would like to see it - please bring it to the SSEG AGM next month. Tell me - is Swirral Edge easier to ascend than Striding Edge for people in their 60s? (Not me - but I will be leading our walking group up Helvellyn in September and some walkers are approaching 70 years. It’s a common sight to see the older end struggling to get their legs over stiles - so the clambering necessary to get across Striding Edge will test their agility to the limits I reckon. Maybe Swirral would be easier?

73 and thank you for a report that will benefit others contemplating activating those summits.

Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

If you don’t mind me giving my opinion on that, Phil, the only bit of Striding Edge that makes you think is a short descent down a gully at ~45 degrees at the end of it before the rise to the plateau, I assume John avoided that route because it can be icy and the path that avoids the scrambley top of the ridge is not easy to follow in the dark. Swirral has a short easy vertical step but all in all the difficulties are shorter than Striding Edge - but if you find it iced up it is a climb, not a scramble!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

I’m grateful for your comparison Brian. I have ascended via Striding Edge and but not Swirral so the information you provided is very useful.

73

Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4YSS:
Well John What a fantastic report and achievment.I was sat in the living room and telling my wife joan of your activations that day and she was on the internet with her laptop.I said to her that I would not be surprised if you did another .It was then that she annonced that you were on Blencathra.I said hell I must dash upstairs and give him a call.I think I just got there in time.All the best 73 Geoff

In reply to G4YSS:
John, I bet that was a marathon writing session to cover a marathon expedition. I may one day attempt these summits myself but over at least 4 or 5 days with a decent recovery spell in between. Great read about a great SOTA day.
73
jim

In reply to ALL:

To M1EYP: Hi Tom,

I know you are no stranger to night ops. Amongst other things, you frightened some walkers with your ‘glowing’ bothy bag!

As for mental toughness. You must have had a lot for the Pennine Way and I wish I had as much. With me, sleep and ‘other things’ are affected from a few days beforehand and as you can imagine planning for some of these things seems to go on for ever. It’s somewhat better once you get started but I was brought up on the maxim, ‘Don’t tempt providence.’ Things can go wrong so we don’t say we’re going to do something because ‘Murphy’ may step in and snooker us.

Believe it or not, you need less fitness for this kind of thing than you think. I can’t run around or cycle that well these days. What you do need is stamina and the attitude ‘never never give up’ once you start. It takes some generating lately. After five, I could have cheerfully gone home but it’s a bit like Apollo. If the last stage doesn’t light up you won’t make it to the Moon and the whole undertaking is compromised despite earlier energy expended. In the future young chap’s will make the stuff we do now look very ‘steady away.’

Maybe when you did the PW; a much bigger undertaking than any ‘one-day’ you would come across some of these points yourself.

The number of contacts when averaged out is not that great because there’s not time to go on sufficient bands. 40m CW would have improved it a lot. 2FM would have been good too but there’s got to be limits. 160 went well though.

It wasn’t possible to avoid a long report if each summit is to be included with a bit of detail but I did slim it down to 4,500 words from 8,500 before posting. I though it might crash your system! HI. It’s best to use ‘EDIT – SEARCH to find keywords of interest rather than read it.

By the way, thanks for the loan of your ‘proof reader.’ Jimmy found some important errors, which could have caused confusion if left undetected. After days of it, I was too goggle-eyed to see them all.

Thanks for the QSO’s too,
73, John.

To G4OIG: Hi Gerald,

Sorry about the 3 session report. Reasons above. 12 hours were needed for the courage to post it even after shortening & crushing it up to make it ‘look’ smaller. Yes, you’ll need to plan for 7 & 70, HI. I did half expect you calling in; pity you were away.

Most of the planning time was spent worrying about the plan itself and when it could be put into practice, if ever. I have waited 2 years now. I couldn’t do it in ‘08 because my LD walking group split the Patterdale Round for me.

Execution: After weeks of unsuitable WX and ice condx and with not a day to spare, a WX window finally opened. Not only that but it just happened to be when W-Bonus and max daylight coincided. Down right jammy is all I can say & gratefully accepted.

The drive home wasn’t too bad because the roads were empty and I could go quite fast which keeps you much more alert. Besides, as you say adrenaline keeps you awake. There was so much of the stuff that I didn’t manage more than 5 hours sleep for the following 4 nights. I did think of selling it. After that I was sleeping in. All this for just one day. Is it worth it?

73, John.

To G4OBK: Hiya Phil,

The ones around Patterdale are a good group of summits to put on VHF because they are all ether high or firing down nearby valleys (not Place Fell though). You will get plenty of contacts from grateful people who are left wondering, ‘What happened to 2m’ since about 2004.’ It’s such a great way to activate. No pressure and kit as simple or as complex as you choose. I am looking forward to some of this myself.

The Laminated map is the 1:25k sheet entitled Lake District Explorer Map, NE Sheet. It was quite heavy and I almost left it there but then the ‘Yorkshireman’ kicked-in.

Swirral Edge is the route for SOTA Activations (in my opinion.) Striding Edge is harder & a longer edge with more exposure (though there are detours). There is a sort of chimney affair; a climb down just before the ridge meets the flank of Helvellyn. I remember doing it with the kids in 1990 when they were 9 and 11. After the 11-year old got a bit ‘gripped’ in a brisk cross-wind, we thought we’d ‘cracked it’ only to find that Helvellyn’s flank afterwards was very loose to climb up & was quite steep too. It takes energy when you are slipping back and it was hard to see the path in mist.

On the other hand, Swirral delivers you right the way to the summit plateau and there is no ‘shortfall’ so no face to climb up. If it’s a bit of fun you’re wanting, take Striding but I think it’s harder & it might add up 30 or even 60 mins over Swirral, particularly if there’s a queue.

Good luck with your activations Phil & thanks for calling in on mine! Will look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

73, John.

G8ADD: Hi Brian,

Yes, a spot-on description coming from a person with a lot of experience. Now for the confession. I have only done Striding the one time. I am too fond of efficiency to go back again, especially now that SOTA has come along. Apart from a single lapse to make a video of Sharp Edge 2 years ago, the easiest route to the objective gets my vote every time. So I may be unromantic, but they can keep their Striding Edges & Crib Gochs etc, I’d rather have a bit more summit time or an extra summit!

Thanks for the QSO’s Brian, 73, John.

To G6MZX: Hello Geoff,

Tell Joan I owe her one. One more QSO gained because of her vigilance! That’s what I call a good XYL!

On the other hand, I got in big trouble with my wife for not informing her about summits 1 and 6. I phoned on the way down the last one & I got such an earful, I wished I’d never bothered. The balance between worrying someone & properly making known your plans is a tricky one. When I phoned her at 10am, she’d been watching the screen. I thought she would see it in the evening too but no; she thought I was on the way home. I left her my route sheets and my best estimates. Also, I told my son I might just be doing six and gave him the choices & Roy too. SOTAwatch makes plain the final choice so it’s covered. As for No1 I wasn’t about to tell her I’d be setting off at 11:30 at night but again, I told my son & posted it too. There’s a lot more to this subject but that’s what happened this time.

I thought of you when you did Gt.Whernside the other day. It’s the nearest 2k to Scarborough & I am very fond of it & its neighbour . It’s been reserved for VHF-NFD for the past few years. 73, John.

To G0CQK: Greetings Jim,

Yes, more of the desperately slow, one-fingered typing than walking, I’m afraid.

I hope your foot problem continues to improve so you can try these tops. They are all well served with paths are quite popular. They are not as wild as say the Gable Group & Scafells but a step above the likes of High Street & Stony Cove. They lend themselves to bunching better than most other LDs. It doesn’t matter what time of year or WX you go, there are always plenty of people on Fairfield. It could be the time of day though; I never see a soul on LD3 or it could be that a few routes take it in. If you want any routes, tell me. They all have marked waypoints.

Speaking of routes. Thank you for doing the track-log analysis. It was a useful exercise and you’re just the man for it! I hope you didn’t mind me sending it to you half an hour after getting back. It wasn’t a hint or anything!

Don’t forget Sighty!

73, John.

Thanks again for all comments. Better go now. It has been a busy day. Two chaps came to install a new condensing boiler (one said he’d done Snowdon) so we must now clear up and get a spanner on one leaky joint. They did a brilliant job though. Hot tap on…Hot water. Amazing!

PS. Don’t forget to work Roy SSH in 5B on Thursday / Friday. (Details in the news bulletin.)

Hi John when you activated Seat Sandal G/LD-022 you logged my callsign as M4EYP, please could I just remind you that it should have beeen logged as M3EYP. Another error on you reply to Gerald you typed his callsign as G0OIG, Gerald’s callsign is G4OIG.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M3EYP:
Thanks Jimmy,

Oh dear, I insulted you and Gerald by changing your callsigns! I keep doing it with John GW0BVE…sorry GW4!! I also get the occasional email and it’s very often the figure that’s incorrect. Aged brain is to blame!

The errors are duly dealt with now so thanks for pointing them out. You were right I had M4 on the SOTA database but M3 in my excel log but you now have that magic star *. How it happened, I will never know. Apologies for this to both you & Gerald. I did say that the young can still teach us a thing or two, didn’t I ?

When changing my log just now, I saw again that LD22 was listed as being No6 on the 15th and it was actually No3. I have asked Gary if he can tell me why the Database is failing to list summits done in a day in time order. I have wondered about this for years but it seems quite random on quite a few occasions while others are correct. Maybe I am doing something wrong or missing the obvious. (Neither would surprise me!)

37, Jhon.
(G0YSS)