ACTIVATION REPORT FROM A FAB FAMILY LONG WEEKEND IN GI & EI LAND
8 SOTA summits successfully activated and qualified
Here we go:
Friday 7th April 2023:
Slieve Donard GI/MM-001
Slieve Commedagh GI/MM-002
We were very fortunate that our holiday bungalow was situated in the centre of Kilkeel - this meant we were a 20 minute drive from most GI/MM SOTA summits. This certainly beats a 2 hour plus journey from home to GW/NW or GW/SW
The car was packed with food, water and SOTA gear and we were off. Arrived at the ‘bloody bridge’ car park and could just see our first target in the distance ‘Slieve Donard’. The hike began on a well worn path ascending every step we took up through the lovely valley. The sun was out, the wx wasn’t too hot, so perfect for a long hike! After a couple of water stops and a few snacks munched on the move, we arrived at the Mourne wall looking up at SD. It’s been quite a long time since I took at a mountain the size of this with little Lyra on my back. Nevertheless, I put my head down and plodded on. After approximately 350m of ascent covered in a very short distance, Martha, Lyra and I were looking up at the trig sitting high on top of the Mourne wall - what fantastic views we had!
I took a breather, and then began work calling CQ SOTA on 145-FM first. What a great response! I managed to work 19 stations with 6 being S2S contacts, thanks to Dom @EI5IAB, Esther @GI0AZA, @GI0AZB, Roger MW0IDX, John @GI4OSF and David G6ENN.
I switched over to HF and called on 5-CW which wasn’t in good shape at all, so I flicked to 7-CW and worked another nice pile up adding 19 more stations to my log with 1 being a S2S contact - thanks Kevin @MW0KXN.
I finished off on 7-SSB with a further 16 stations in the log with 3 more S2S contacts - thanks Rod @M0JLA, Dave M0JKS and Martin @2E0BIA. It was time to pack away and have some lunch. what a great start to our SOTA adventure over the pond It was now a matter of following the Mourne wall to summit number two.
We descended ‘Slieve Donard’ to the west where Martha decided she’d take little Lyra back to the car while I finished the day off on ‘Slieve Commedagh’. This again was a steep pull to summit, but there was a nice stone shelter on top where I set up my station. 45 contacts later on 7-CW/SSB & 145-FM, I found myself explaining the hobby of SOTA to a group of hikers who were very interested in listening to my CW contacts. After a chat for 10 minutes, it was time to call it a day and jog back down to join the family.
Saturday 8th April 2023:
Clermont Carn EI/IE-021
Slieve Muck GI/MM-007
Waking up on Saturday morning resulted in most of my bones aching like mad so it was agreed we’d take an easier approach today. It started off with a Starbucks vanilla latte for Martha and myself with a naughty Babychino for little Lyra. We then took a nice drive to Clermont Carn which took approximately 45 minutes.
While Martha and little Lyra took the views in from top and did some exploring, I set up my office in a nice wide Cairn below the trig. Behind me were some large comms towers, as soon as I switched the hand-held on, they mis-behaved and affected my receive, so I stuck to HF and worked 7-CW and SSB managing to work 49 stations itl with 1 being a S2S contact - thanks Christian @HB9CYV who was activating in France F/HB9CYV/p. I packed up shop and spent some time taking the views in with my girls.
I had made a S2S with Ian GI0AZB from Slieve Muck the day before, so I thought let’s go and give that summit a go for the complete. It wasn’t that long of a drive to find us parked above a reservoir looking up at this steep lump yes, Slieve Muck!
After about 15 minutes of good persuasive skills, Martha agreed to join me with Lyra, hi! In fact, when we reached the top, Martha said she was so glad she decided to join, it was cold and windy, but the views were amazing and the wall gave us great shelter. Little Lyra had fallen asleep in the carrier on my back, she was lovely and toasty! We all found a nice spot against the wall sheltered from the wind. Martha had lunch, Lyra snored her head off and I called out CQ SOTA. I began on 145-FM working 10 stations with 2 being S2S contacts - thanks Alex EI4JY and Dom EI5IAB. Moved over to 7-CW and worked 14 more stations, and finished off on 7-SSB with a nice pile-up adding a further 26 stations to my log. 4 of those were S2S contacts - thanks Robert M0RWX, Dave M0JKS, Jan who was also in Ireland himself EI/DG3JKB and Martin 2E0BIA.
Just as I finished, little Lyra woke, so we had our delayed lunch, took some lovely photos and videos of the Mourne mountains, and made for our descent - great times had!
Sunday 9th April 2023:
Slieve Croob GI/MM-010
Easter Sunday… we didn’t have any summits planned for this day. BUT… we ate far to many chocolate eggs in the morning, something had to be done to walk it off I checked on my SOTAgoat app and found a nice easy summit near-by ‘Slieve Croob’. This had a nice carpark to swing the truck in, and just over a mile of tarmac road ascending all the way to the top - great! It didn’t take long until we reached the nasty comms towers. I had promised Martha and Lyra that I’d only do 145-FM from this summit, they tell me HF-CW & SSB takes too long??? so I agreed. Out came the Yaesu FT5D and a CQ SOTA call was made on S20 QSY’ing to 145.300 which was free. A great response adding 14 contacts to my log, although I did have to walk slightly back from the comms towers to protect my receive.
On our descent, I found another small summit near-by which didn’t have a great load of activity over the years. I also knew a good friend needed to chase it to complete the whole of GI - congratulations Victor @GI4ONL, it was a pleasure being that activator giving you the GI complete! 20 minutes later I was parked up and rearing to go, it only took 15 minutes and I was on top of ‘Slievenalargy’ calling CQ SOTA on 7-CW before the heavens opened. I managed to work 15 stations before I had to pack away before the KX2 got drenched - job done! as we arrived home, the wx picked up, so a journey to the beach it was to build some castles and play a bit of footy.
Monday 10th April 2023:
Slieve Bearnagh GI/MM-004
Slieve Meelbeg GI/MM-005
I’d been monitoring the wx forecast all week / weekend and there was signs of a thunder & lightening storm to hit late PM on Monday. So, I decided to go solo today and leave the house at 05:00 UTC to finish off two summits I really wanted to do before leaving for home. I arrived in a nice small carpark and began my ascent to Slieve Bearnagh. The first part of the hike was nice and easyish, but once I reached the Mourne wall, I could see my first target clearly. I must admit, it was a fair ascent and brutally steep with scrambling in places, but these are my favourite kind of mountains, so we got along well! I was certainly rewarded on top having my first QSO with Andrew @VK1AD who was waiting out for me to get the S2S - what a start! The pole did blow down a couple of times when trying to erect it, the wind was quite fierce on top. After having a brief chat with Andrew, he was a genuine 5/7 to me, cracking signal, I moved over to 7-CW and worked one fair pile up! There was ‘dits’ and ‘dahs’ being thrown at me from every direction. I kept telling myself ‘just relax and keep keying’ hi. 28 QSO’s later, I think I managed to work everyone - if not, apologies, but I couldn’t hear anyone else calling in. I took a few sips of water and pressed the mode button on the KX2, lets see how SSB was fairing on 7MHz. The band was in good shape for the time of day, I managed to add a further 23 stations to my log before getting froze - thank you so much for the support! The 6m carbon pole held up quite well despite the strong winds I was experiencing on top. Now time to descent and make my way to the last summit of the day ‘Slieve Meelbeg’.
In comparison, this was an easy summit where I just followed the wall. On reaching the small pile of stones on top, I hid behind the wall right in the corner as high as I could go and set up my office. This time I began on 7-SSB as I previously experienced conditions were good! After calling out CQ SOTA once, I had a return of 33 stations to add in my log. I moved over to 7-CW and made a further 21 contacts. I packed up my gear and called out on S20 which was pretty quiet, I think the time of day wasn’t the best but I did add 4 more stations to my log. I was a happy Easter bunny on my descent.
Tuesday 10th April 2023:
- Ben of Howth EI/IE-072
The truck was pretty much all packed on the Monday evening ready to leave early on Tuesday for our ferry home. The plan was to call in Dublin for brunch and be at the ferry port by 13:00 to bord. O, I said to Martha… there’s a summit on the way which looks like it could have lovely views over Dublin and the sea… she said ‘really???’ with an exhausted voice I won’t go into more detail of the discussion, but 4 contacts later on the hand-held, I managed to qualify.
I then treated my girls to a Nando’s before boarding the ferry and having a pretty bad journey across the sea due to a nasty storm - but we did arrive home safely.
I’d like to thank everyone for being so supportive - we had a fantastic time and got lucky with the wx which resulted in 4 perfect days out on the mountains! We also got to explore a lot of places and visited the beach a hand full of times which little Lyra loved I’m sorry to tell you, but we will be back! hahaa.
73, Ben GI4BML/p and family