G4YSS: SNOWDON, GW/NW-001 on 01-08-13

G4YSS Activation Report: GW/NW-001 Snowdon on 01-08-13

Yr Wyddfa on 160; 80; 40 & 2
G(W)4YSS using GC0OOO/P.
Unaccompanied from Pen-Y-Pass.
All times BST (UTC plus 1) UOS.

FT817ND QRP. Adjustable dipole 80 thru 20. 5m home-brew CFC mast; 1m end sticks.
One 4.4 Ah Li-Po, part discharged.
IC-E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 7.4V /1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery.

QRP pack: 10kg (22 pounds) inc 1 litre of drinks (0.75 ltr used).

This would be my ninth SOTA expedition to NW1. Early activations were on 2m FM with progression to HF QRP and later QRO. It was also my first summer activation of the mountain; all others were done in March, April, May or November.

I spent some time deciding between several styles of expedition: 1) HF QRO; 2) HF QRP or 3) VHF only. With types 2 and 3 there was the option of adding NW8, Y Lliwedd but for that a full day would be needed. Looking at the QSO breakdown for Snowdon, VHF only is overwhelmingly popular and certainly looked attractive but with the obvious problem that it excludes the majority of chasers.

Impressed by good 40m conditions on Carnedd Llewelyn two days prior and hoping for the same, I chose to take HF gear. Family commitments and my roll as a Grandfather would come into it again, so I decided on another half day expedition so that I could take five-year-old Jack swimming in the afternoon. Less time leads the thinking to quicker walking so again the choice was QRP. Forget added extras such as an activation of NW8. I would have to resign myself to a slower performance at this time of year anyway.

With trains disgourging hundreds of passengers starting at 10am and with a full size 80m dipole to erect unhindered and over rock, a really early start would be needed. There was just one problem. The mountain weather forecast was not good with 40 mph gusts, early drizzle and low-cloud until midday. Another issue was that I wanted to put on 160m which wouldn’t be easy with QRP, though 5 Watts on Top Band had brought success from NW1 in the past.

All my activations except two have used the Pyg Track from Pen-y-Pass (359 m ASL) which involves a height gain of 2400ft and a walk of 11km but is the easiest and quickest option. The drawback is the cost of parking which has been ten UK pounds for about 3 or 4 years now.

The stars were out and conditions were settled as the night porter opened the door of the hotel for me at 04:00. This didn’t equate to the MWIS weather forecast but as I would confirm for the umpteenth time in due course, mountains are another world when it comes to weather.

Long before I reached Pen-y-Pass at 04:45, the WX was deteriorating with rain showers and wind. As I stopped the car engine, cloud was scudding across the car park at speed, bringing with it further rain showers with only short intervals between. It was dark and just the prospect of walking 30m to the machine to pay for parking filled me with dread. It was nothing new when you’ve been SOTA activating for 11 years and seen everything the weather can throw at you, but there comes a time when you recoil from the discomfort of it all. I donned my boots and pulled the waterproofs from the rucksack as another rain shower arrived.

That’s it! Back to the hotel; the decision was instantly made.

‘But no rush, I thought; they won’t be out of bed for another 3 hours.’ Yawning, I settled back into the seat in the nice cosy car for 40 winks but woke up at 05:20, thinking about the chasers I would be responsible for disappointing. The fact that Hazel had managed to email Roy G4SSH the night before was now seen as a mistake. Roy would likely have put an alert on for me and now I would have to go out in the horrible conditions and get wet. Come on wimp - get out there! I put on full waterproofs which is a condition I hate walking in.

Another excuse to ‘jack-out’ had to be overcome when the pay and display machine accepted only half my coins and rejected the rest. I tried the other machine which wasn’t much better and only gave me a nine pound ticket lasting to 09:23! It would just have to suffice. I was in no mood to worry about underpaying, especially when it wasn’t my fault.

Eventually I left Pen-Y-Pass at 05:32 in daylight after downing a litre of cold water. Walking in fog and light rain, I listened to the ‘Farming Today’ programme on Radio 4 long-wave. There was nothing else and there was annoying QRM from the GPS but it was quite interesting and got my mind off the discomfort of ascent and the rain showers. When I got to the more exposed Crib Goch turnoff, the wind increased and it rained again.

Stopping to change the GPS batteries on the way, I wondered why it seemed to be taking an age to reach the Zig-Zags. Eventually they loomed out of the clag and once up to the ridge it was a relief to know that the weariness was nearly at an end. I reached the station at 07:20. Next came the summit photos but they weren’t up to much. You couldn’t see 20 yards but at least I had the place very much to myself, which would be the case for the next hour to an hour and a half.

Erecting the antenna:
Now came the job of erecting the dipole which unusually was initially laid out on the ground. I floundered, slipped and tripped on the greasy wet rocks on the western facing slope beween the cafe and the summit plinth. By the time I’d finished, my wrists hurt from a slip that had bent back my hands. This and the lousy weather did nothing to improve the mood. The southerly wind blew along the dipole but occasionally the mast would bend towards the mountain, grounding the wire. That is easily remedied; the coax becomes a guy line when tied to the rucksack and the flimsy mast is made to lean out from the slope.

There are really only two places you can erect a lengthy wire aerial on Snowdon. One is on the north ridge with one end tied to the summit plinth and the other is as described above. The advantage of the west face is that you are less likely to tangle up the tourists but on the down side, it’s a tricky operation to get the thing up due to snags on rocks and your own stability in wet conditions.

Another issue is that stations to the east are screened; no problem with skip on say 40m or 80m but a big disadvantage where line of sight is the primary mode; such as 160m in daylight and VHF of course.

By 07:50 I was ready to start and initially it looked like the phone troubles of NW2 were behind me. Afterall, I had managed a text to my XYL, later receiving a reply but when I tried to phone Roy; no chance! The problem was down to poor simcard contacts but that was only diagnosed later at the hotel. As per NW2, I would have to rely on amateur radio for spots.

YR WYDDFA (SNOWDON) GW/NW-001: 1,085m, 10 pts. 07:22 to 11:10. 10 Deg C increasing. 15 to 20 mph wind. Rain showers early and low-cloud throughout. (LOC: IO73XB, WAB: SH65). (Note from 2011 report: ‘Orange phone coverage, none existent at Pen-y-Pass, patchy on the way up but OK on the summit.’)

3.557 CW - for a spot:
After an email to G4SSH the previous evening, Roy posted me on 160m; 80m with the possibility of 40m in that order. That meant he was not likely to be listening this early on 3.557. In fact I later discovered that he had tuned up a second receiver and was simultaneously monitoring 1.832 and 3.557 and that was the reason he came straight back to my 5 Watt call. Up to date information was thus fed to SOTAwatch which made for a better chance on Top Band and subsequent QSY’s. Roy excelled himself once again. Reports were 559/ 339 and the time was 06:50 UTC.

1.832 CW - 2 QSO’s:
I don’t make a habit of using QRP on Top Band as it’s rarely successful in daylight. In fact a 5 Watt signal got me two contacts today as it did one other time on Snowdon. I was pleasantly surprised to work M0BKV, Damian down in Cornwall of all places and 160m regular, EI2CL Mike in Dublin. Neither were difficult apart from a couple of repeat callbacks to cut through the Dublin ‘kids summer-holiday QRN.’ This was the second time I have worked Mike with 5 Watts on 160m from Snowdon.

Next came Phil with an ear-splitting 589 signal but try as I may I could not get an RST over to him. Added to the fact that the summit cone of Snowdon was between him and me, the imbalance between my power and his was too great. We failed but it was half expected; we failed in 2008 too. In 2009 I worked 7 stations on 160m from here but I was using 80 Watts.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO`s:
By now I was feeling really damp and uncomfortable. I had walked up in shirt and waterproof but hadn’t yet gone to the trouble of adding the nice dry fleece. With that rectified I began to feel slightly better but now the problem was the log. It was wet through and becoming difficult to write on. Tiny bits of it appeared on my clothes like dandruff. The umbrella did a reasonable job of fending off showers but couldn’t stop saturated low-cloud from soaking the paper.

It was all my own fault. I should have bought a Waterlog from Richard G3CWI when he offered it at Blackpool rally a few years ago. To a SOTA activator the log is a holy grail of information which must be recovered to a place of safety in readable form. I took to writing callsigns on the dryest bits and ignoring the parts with holes in. The only dry paper I had with me was in the form of a map and I dearly wished for a 2B pencil in place of the HB one I was using that was acting like a chisel.

In ten minutes I worked two stations: Phil G4OBK and Tony G4LFU both with promising 599/ 579 reports. Before these, G4SSH was reworked; this time with better reports than we’d exchanged 40 minutes earlier. Frid DL1FU was heard calling but try as I may I could not get back to him. Despite the apparently reasonable conditions, there were no more replies to CQ’s. With 5 Watts on 80, it was not surprising but at least Phil, after trying hard for me on 160, was now in the 80m log.

3.724 SSB - 7 QSO`s:
Many times I have been proved wrong in the assumption that SSB will not bring in as many chasers as CW. Here was another example of it. In 20 minutes I managed to work seven stations with the available mouse power: G6ODU; G0RQL; M0BKV; GW4ZPL; M3XIE; G8ADD and G4LFU. Incoming signals were all 58 to 59 and incoming reports averaged around 55. A few more for the soggy log!

At some point during the 80m SSB session, someone stopped to say hello. Apart from the night porter in the hotel, he was the first person I had seen that morning and he was a runner. He told me that he had been up there at 8am three weeks ago, well before the first train and there had been at least 300 people on and around the summit enjoying good weather conditions. Obviously some kind of event. We could only agree that today’s rotten weather and zero views did afterall have their advantages.

7.032 CW - 12 QSO`s:
Just as G4OBK succeeded when I doubled the frequency, so too did Frid DL1FU with 599/ 449 reports. First in the log on here was ON6NW followed by Frid then: M6BLV; PA9M; F5SQA; HB9AAQ; PA2NJC; Roy G4SSH; GM0AXY; G0TDM; DM3SWD and PB2T. I thought this would continue but in some ways I was glad it didn’t. I had now got down to the foot of the logsheet which was shredding and I was now shivering again.

The session took 55 minutes. 15 minutes before it ended I heard what sounded like a jet engine. This was the first train arriving at 09:15 BST but the expected invasion did not materialize. It must have been a service train for cafe supplies and the daily delivery of several hundred litres of water. Invasion or not, quite a few walkers were now filing past behind me; some carrying mountain bikes onto the summit plinth but finally I could pack up the dipole and move to a nicer place for VHF.

145.300 FM - 18 QSO`s:
It had taken well over half an hour to get the antenna and everthing else into the rucksack and move from the tricky place on the west slope but the vertical j-pole was now set up and ready just east-northeast of the summit. This was a more sheltered area where the damaged logsheet could be carefully folded up and put somewhere safe, to be replaced by another damp but otherwise unsullied one. The FT817ND looked too wet to risk further so out came the IC-E90 H/H. Same power - 5 Watts.

A CQ on S20 attracted immediate interest. The frequency of 145.300 MHz, checked clear prior to the CQ, was duly QSY’d to and proceedings began. After my experiences shivering on a wet rock in drizzle, wind and low-cloud for the best part of 2 hours, I must apologize for moaning about it on FM. The poor unsuspecting ops only wanted a simple QSO and some points. It didn’t take long to settle down however and a couple of stations who had worked me earlier came on to clarify their entries in the partly illegible HF log.

The next 50 minutes brought in eighteen stations and though the mist never lifted, the light did get brighter. While dozens of inappropriately dressed train passengers filed up to the viewpoint and took photographs, stations worked were as follows: G1PIE; MW3PZO; MW0MUF; G6WRC; G6LUZ; 2E0VEK; M3XIE; M6BLV; GW7SBO; G1OHH; GW8BCO/P; M0XSD; M6JOG; GW3VVC; M6GBV; G6ODU; M0JFK and GW4BZD.

There were no S2S’s today but GW8BCO/P was operating handheld on a hill near Bala Lake. Locations ranged from the Wirrall, Anglesey, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Crewe, Lancashire, Cumbria and Stockport. Paul G6WRC was running Warrington Radio Society’s club station and was being watched by a 6 year old called Amy, who got a ‘hello from Snowdon.’

GW4BZD asked me about the ‘C’ in my callsign. I explained that it was a club callsign and the ‘C’ neatly stood for Cymru (Wales). It’s not so simple in other parts of the UK. Yes, ‘S’ is the Scottish variation but ‘X’ is for England and ‘T’ is for the Isle of Man.

The Descent:
After a foggy photo of the station and a train that was coming up the line, it was time to ‘QSY’ back to Pen-y-Pass. What a contrast. The path down, deserted on the ascent, was now occupied by hundreds of people. Almost all were on their way up to the cloudy top. I was glad to be going down; there was a danger that the afternoon would be hot. I wasn’t counting but I must have seen 300 walkers on the way. The job was made harder by having to wait for narrow sections to clear. Looking over my shoulder before reaching the ladder stile, I could see that the summit was still shrouded in mist and there had been little or no sunshine on the desent. It’s a fair way but I had the start of an ashes test match to listen to on 198kHz R4-LW, arriving at the car at 12:36.

The drive back to Llandudno of exactly 30 miles via a crowded Betws Y Coed took from 12:44 to 13:35 plus a further 15 minutes to find a remote parking place and walk back to the hotel on aching feet. I was in trouble too! Because of the simcard problem, none of my ETA’s had reached their target and I was almost an hour late.

Within 15 minutes, I was in the hotel pool with 5-year-old Jack for another two-hour swimming session. It was a great way to cool off after a hard morning on Snowdon and even better to see the big smile on his face.

1.832 CW - 2
3.557 CW - 3
3.724 SSB - 7
7.032 CW - 12
145.300 FM - 18
TOTAL: 42.

Walking: 735m (2,411ft) ascent, 11 km (6.9 miles).
SOTA points: 10.

Elapsed times:
Pen-y-Pass to NW1: 1hr-51 min.
NW1 to Pen-y-Pass: 1hr-26 min.
Summit time: 3hr-48 min.
Total walking time: 3Hr-17min.
Total gross time: (Pen-y-Pass to Pen-y-Pass) 7Hr-4min.

In the end I didn’t regret reversing my decision to turn around and go back to the hotel from Pen-y-Pass in the morning but I can’t say this turned out to be a pleasant activation. It’s a Topsy turvy world. I have thus far considered myself to be a winter activator who dislikes summer but this year I have been forced to acclimatize with the result that I now shiver in the damp at 10 degrees C! True it was wet and windy but I hate admitting the fact that I was cold and uncomfortable. At least the VHF session was an improvement.

Once again QRP didn’t work that well from the point of view of QSO numbers but using HF did at least give a lucky few overseas and distant UK stations half a chance. Every SOTA QSO on 160m is a bonus and generally something to be upbeat about. I got two here which not only made me happy but brought the total on 160m for Snowdon up to 16.

The walk up was slower because of the WX and the drag of waterproofs. The walk down was impeded by the shear volume of people coming in the opposite direction. Though it’s mildly difficult, the plan to erect the dipole over the sloping rockfield worked out well again. Nobody got tangled in it; in fact activating early almost guaranteed that nobody would. The problem is that whichever side you transmit from, somebody is going to miss out on 160m. Once again this was Phil G4OBK but it’s hard to see how I can erect it clear for all directions without being really cheeky, to say nothing of foolhardy and sticking the mast right on top of the summit plinth. That would call for an overnight bivi; something I have no plans to do.

Snowdon always seems smaller than its 3,560ft to me probably because of its latitude and the high start point but it’s actually over 80% the height of Ben Nevis. Like its Scottish sister, all and sundry are heading to the top on a daily basis and the train fare up Snowdon is now 27 UK pounds.

As was the case on NW2 a couple of days prior, this should really have been a full day operation of Snowdon and perhaps Y Liwedd too, or at least a mutiband high power activation of Snowdon only. Once again family matters prevailed.

This had been an exceptionally good holiday which was enjoyed by all of us. We stayed at Shearings, Marine Hotel on Llandudno seafront. It was reasonable, comfortable and the staff very friendly.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting by G4SSH, M0BKV and G1PIE. Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for putting the alerts on for me and getting up early. Also for being on the right frequency at the right time.

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

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Once again, another great report…

Sorry to hear there was no s2s, which is always a bitter pill to swallow, especially on a 10 pointer :frowning:

I remember when Nick G4OOE and Geoff M6PYG activated Snowdon in dreadful conditions earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be on G/SP-013 Gun to give them their only s2s contact and a well deserved 10 s2s points plus a point from me.

73 Mike

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John

Really enjoyed the report John with so many useful points of information and drama 8) Sorry I missed you on 001 but it’s on the list for Steve MW0BBU and myself sometime in the near future. Looking forward to our next contact and thanks for all the summits youv’e given me.


Allan GW4VPX.

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hiya Mike,
Good to hear from you as always. Pity you weren’t activating. My antenna is not up to much but with the gain enjoyed by your station setup, we may well have worked Snowdon to even eastern NP’s and likely much further afield. Certainly The Gun would have been 59++.

I know you like S2S’s but to me they are just incidentals. I don’t activate at weekends since 2005 either. My chaser log (such as it is - I’ve not reached Sloth yet) contains 100% S2S’s except two and for 99% of them someone called in to my activation. When I looked at my log for the activation report I noticed there were no summits in it which is a bit poor I suppose.

I must say though, that a call from another summit operator does impart a feeling of camaraderie and can also give warnings of approaching weather fronts and their effects at altitude. I was helped by this earlier this year. When on NP15 a weather warning came in from Ingleborough.

Giving out any category of chaser points is my main aim but with the number of QSO’s you work (and I’m really jealous!) you are bound to attract a few summits. Sadly I was struggling a bit on Snowdon, not only with the damp but with QSO rates on HF too!

Yes, I remember the near disaster of Nick’s activation. He certainly got experience that day!

Keep up the great work,

73, John.

In reply to GW4VPX:

Hi Allan,
Thanks for your kind comments. It takes forever to write these reports and I really don’t need to. They are a good record for me and maybe one day my family however. In my professional life I had to do reports. Now I’m retired I must be missing them? I wish I was better at putting photos on. By the time the reports are done and the QSO’s are on, to say nothing of the far reaching aftermath of an expedition equipment wise, I’ve had about enough but writing a report is a way of digesting what happened and enjoying it anew.

I have even been working on back-reports which were hitherto just in rough, predating my use of a computer. I dare not dump them on here however. Too embarrassing.

I hope Steve and yourself enjoy your climb of Snowdon, that you get good views and that there are not too many ‘tourists.’ Good luck with that. In most ways Snowdon is a nice SOTA which I for one like to activate.

Hpe CU on the wireless some time soon,

Cheers, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

It takes forever to write these reports and I really don’t need to. They are a good record for me and maybe one day my family however. In my professional life I had to do reports. Now I’m retired I must be missing them?

Who needs retirement to feel the need to write about what is usually a darn good day out? SOTA outings are bright spots in the grey drearyness of everyday life! I write mine for when the time comes when I cannot manage to get up the hills any more - when I am wrapped up warm in a soft blanket with a pint of decent ale by my side and I fancy a good read… :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

P.S. Excellent reports as usual John - brightened my day each one of them. Can’t say I would be that keen taking an umbrella up a hill having had a close call with one in a sudden thunderstorm!

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John and Gerald

When someone goes to the trouble of recording their activations it is nice sometimes to receive a show of gratitude by the reader.

Reports of activations give others who intend activating the same summit useful information which they may or may not use. Combine this information with other sources and you soon get an idea of what your approach to that summit should be and what to expect.

Steve MW0BBU and I have recorded our experiences with numerous photographs and reports of our exploits which can be found at


Long may the reporting continue as it adds to the pre-activation and post activation excitement for those who activate and for those who chase with also a chance to thank all those who helped and made the day out worthwhile. And as you say something to look back at in future years.


Allan GW4VPX

In reply to Gerald G4OIG & Allan GW4VPX:
Thanks Gerald,
Looks like I’ll be continuing then! You too. When you look back at the 10 year old ones it does bring it all back pretty well.

I can sympathise. I am scared stiff of lightning conditions. After some experiences, even static gets me upset. I am always on the lookout for that in the forecasts. 73, John.

Hi Allan,
I had a look at your website. You and Steve have made a great presentation of photos and text. It is an part of Wales I know nothing about. I have never heard of the summits except vaguely Pen-y-Fan perhaps, which incidentally looks a really nice one. It looks like generally fine country with mainly grassy hills but I bet it can be mean and bleak in winter. I think the army use this area.

I think I see why fewer activation reports appear on the reflector nowadays. Many activators have their own web space which allows for a better presentation. Tom does this of course.

73, John.

In reply to GW4VPX:

Hi Allan,

When someone goes to the trouble of recording their activations it is nice sometimes to receive a show of gratitude by the reader.

Yes, comments are always welcome. I started off putting my reports on the SOTAwatch reflector, but moved to Summitsbase when the opportunity to add photographs was realised. I must pay homage to Mike G4BLH who each month does a fantastic job of editing my raw report and batch of photos.

I now have 7 large lever arch files virtually full of reports, maps, summit page data, etc. Not yet quite as much paper as my genealogy files, but it’s getting there. The plastic wallets alone must be worth quite a bit!

With all the planning and reporting activity, looking back, the actual activations seem to be a minor part of the process… but as my mother used to say, “you don’t get diamonds as big as bricks”. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

P.S. Had an initial look at the blogspot which looks great! Time to savour a few memories from past GW/SW exploits including some very similar weather conditions! Will be back for another read when I have time.

Hi John

A combination of power differential, the height of your antenna relative to the ground, and summertime D layer attenuation meant a topband contact was not to be, although it is usually easy to make a QSO with you on topband wherever you are activating in the north and Scotland. Thanks for the 58 report - received over a week later via the internet hihi!

Chasers perspective:

I was running 180 watts from my FT-2000D to a 175 feet long inverted L with the top at 60 feet. The terminated 480 feet long beverage aerial I sometimes use for listening to the west on LF is pretty good and directional and aligned on a bearing of 290 degrees at about 4 feet off the ground. Snowdon is on a bearing of 245 degrees so in theory I should have heard you. The beverage pulls in Manx Radio for me on 1368 KHz which I like listening to while working in the shack. At least we had the 80m QSO.

Heartened to hear that it costs £27 to catch the train up to Snowdon. I didn’t know that. The price and the £10 CP charge at Pen-y-Pass doesn’t reduce numbers though does it!

On SOTA reports and blogs, websites etc which have been mentioned. I went over to blogging a few years ago but you have to enjoy writing to do it as it takes up hours of time, and I tend to fall behind with doing it. I wrote a few reports on the SOTA forum prior to that but maybe they were below par as I got little feedback (unlike you) so that was one reason I went to blogs where I could show photos and possibly a map or GPS track to assist future activators, although I do try to place a link on the appropriate summit page for anyone who wishes to read what I have written and seen.

73 Phil

In reply to G4OBK:
Thanks for commenting Phil,
Nice to hear from you, as always. I am just now entering my QSO’s for over a week ago! One advantage though (not for the chasers.) There are not overly many to enter!

Top Band NW1. I think the same thing happened in 2008. I am convinced only half the problem is low power and low aerial in this case. The other half was screening. When I was on An Teallach after working GM4FAM Cris (Inverness) from Arkle the day before - both on 160m with 5 Watts, Cris asked me why my signal was down despite the much bigger mountain and similar distance. On Arkle I had set up in the clear at the top. On An Teallach I was a little bit down the ‘wrong’ side, just like on Snowdon. The difference was two S points on incoming reports. Your antenna would not be the culprit that’s for sure! Next time I will have to consider setting up on the south ridge (I’ve done it once in snowdrifts) or taking QRO (also done that). A lot depends on the WX.

Manx Radio. Now you’re talking. When I was a student at Liverpool in 1972-3, that’s what I used to have on in my flat if RNI wasn’t coming in well. It was on 232m MW and played good music (An aside: Radio Caroline North served IOM from 1964. It was towed away from Ramsey Bay for bad debt in 1968.)

Yes, the Snowdon railway cost us £90 in 2011 - 3 adults and one child. It now costs £27 adult but if you do it on a ‘Heritage Steam train’ it’ll cost you £35! http://www.snowdonrailway.co.uk/times_prices.php
Overall, it’s got to be far less convenient than walking, considering all the waiting around for a train unless you telephone book at a surcharge of £3.50. When we went up in 2011, which was the day after I’d activated it from Pen-y-Pass, I just had enough time to rush through the cafe, trundle up the top in a line for the ‘shivering, foggy family’ photos and bolt over for 4 QSO’s on 70 MHz-FM with 5 Watts to a duck. Zero points of course but I just wanted to see if it could be done and it’s only just possible (on 4m that is). I did get into slight hot water for vanishing into the mist though. The alternative is to have a cup of tea but I imagine that by the time it’s served it might just be cool enough to drink 5 minutes after you’ve left. I think one-way trips are charged at the return rate and you are not guaranteed a train down (if that’s the way you want to go).

Roy, Kevin and I looked at it in the late 90’s to put a station on top for SSEG to air the GC call but paying double was prohibitive on cost (I was going to walk up) and a nightmare logistically in case Roy & Kevin got stranded up there due to no train places down.

I understand where you are coming from; regarding reports. Your site is really professional looking and colourful too but as you say, very labour intensive. It’s a great record though with the stunning photos you have on there and the track is the most important thing, especially on little known hills. Linking it on here is vital.

It doesn’t matter how many times you retire, you still don’t have enough time! My Grandson takes up a lot of my time. Though I’m not complaining, instead of putting my QSO’s on, I’m pushing him on the garden swing! Happy days,

73, John.

In reply to G4OIG:

When someone goes to the trouble of recording their activations it
is nice sometimes to receive a show of gratitude by the reader.
Just to note that I’m also interested in reading other people’s reports, both for the information about routes/conditions etc and because readong about the conditions others endure makes me feel that I’m not completely mad when I end up fighting weather and/or vegetation!

Yes, comments are always welcome. I started off putting my reports on
the SOTAwatch reflector, but moved to Summitsbase when the opportunity
to add photographs was realised. I must pay homage to Mike G4BLH who
each month does a fantastic job of editing my raw report and batch of
Yes, I’ve tended to move away from reports on SOTAwatch to submitting reports to Summitsbase, where Mike does an excellent job of turning text and photos into a presentable report.

I do try to remember to put notes into the summits details page on SOTAwatch where there are either no other route details available or we’ve used a different route/parking. Just finished doing that for our June North Scotland trip.

Caroline M3ZCB

In reply to M3ZCB:
Hi Caroline,

Thanks for this input. It confirms that we are less likely to see reports on here as time goes on, though I am so far behind the times that I still (also) post on the old yahoo reflector which predated this one and in fact the launch of SOTA itself. Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos

I agree wholeheartedly, Mike does do a great job with summitsbase and it must take up a large chunk of his available time. The result is of a very high standard however, so from our viewpoint, it’s well worth it. I did recently send Mike a photo of a WOTA activation I did but only one photo.

Yes, I should put notes on too. I only found out yesterday that you can put GPS tracks on SOTA Mapping Project. I must say, I fight shy of too much of this type of direct ‘interaction’ in general, as too many times something has gone embarrassingly wrong (I.T. wise). Also, it can also be extremely labour intensive - eg labelling photos accurately on Flicker or Geograph submissions. I think I will stick with this reflector for the foreseeable future.

Hope to work you again soon.
Take care on the hills,
73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

I am surprised to hear that the Summitsbase is still operating. One should of course remember that Mike restricts access to those he considers are, or might be, his supporters and as with any “one-man” operation, those decisions are rather arbitrary. So reports there might not be seen…

73 Richard G3CWI

In reply to M3ZCB:
by chance I saw the end of a TV report on SNOWDON last evening.
Now I know much better abt possible problems with bad foggy
weather and a lot of people in the railway…

73 es cu on the summits
Mike, DJ5AV

In reply to G3CWI:

That’s funny Richard, I’ve only heard of one person being withheld access. I’m absolutely sure that Mike is 100% fair with his decisions. Besides, how do you know it is a “one man” operation?

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

I’ve only heard of one person

You need to listen harder then!


In reply to MM0FMF:

You need to listen harder then!

Well Andy, I just don’t have time for that, nor do I make it my business to keep abreast of the politics behind the scenes. I am too busy planning my next activation, the report for which will appear in Summitsbase News, of course!

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to DJ5AV:

The weather on Snowdon can be bad any time. I don’t know about the OOE/PYG activation in March but mine on 24/5/13 was a shocker! Gale force winds and snow meant the trains couldn’t make it up (cafe therefore shut). I struggled to operate the radio in the sub-zero not helped when my walking companion offered to hold the SLAB and subsequently dropped it. I made four contacts and shut down immediately, (I think 2W0WDS was the last one), apologies to those who missed out . Oddly a descent of only a few hundred metres down the Ranger found conditions suitable for a lunch stop.

While the train crowds were missing, there were still heaps of inappropriately dressed persons on some sort of charity run.

One of the residents of our hostel had to be taken down by mountain rescue (no helicopter obviously) with hypothermia, he simply hadn’t expected the poor conditions.

Regarding the cost, I’ve wondered on previous activations about the wisdom of paying all that money to get to the top and not see anything. I once had an old couple follow me out of the cafe in the fog looking for the summit. Just as well I noticed and stopped them as I was heading for the Watkin.


Mick M0XMC

In reply to all:


Hi Richard,
Thanks for the info. I had no knowledge that there were any issues of that kind but if Mike is actually running it without any help at all, he may not be able to include all the items sent in. It looks like an awful lot of work for one person.

Mike requested a photo or two while we were in QSO one day and though I am afraid I have been a bit tardy in providing some due to lapse of memory, I see that they have appeared in this months news. I must say, the photos have come out pretty well on there. I wonder if it would be possible to make it so that we could put the odd photo on the SOTA reflector? That said, there is the option to put them on Flicker and link-off.

Thanks for the reply.
All the best, John.


Hi Mike,
Thanks for posting. I’m sure I would have enjoyed watching that TV programme.

I don’t know whether you have been to the UK or activated here but we are in a position where we are hit first by the Atlantic weather fronts. I’m afraid Britain can be a very damp place which is why we more often than not mention the weather when we meet one another. At least we empty most of the cloud contents for you before we pass them on to DL! HI.

Out of all the activations I have done, at the very least 30% have been in low-cloud. Before I retired and was forced to activate at weekends, when I couldn’t chose the best WX, that figure was at least 50%. Surprising as it may seem, you get used to having your head in the clouds; sometimes all day long and the navigational problems that it can bring.

Thank you for all your support of my ‘OOO’ operations.
CU Agn, 73, John.

Gerald - G4OIG:

‘Politics.’ Just say the word and I run a mile!

Mick M0XMC:

Your day on Snowdon sounds hard. NW1 is like WS1 for badly equipped and inappropriately dressed people but for some reason, we don’t seem to get it on LD1.
73, John.

Thanks for the many replies and discussion. J