Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat
Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
We arrived at Braemar around 0915. The snow gates were closed and there were around 100 cars waiting. Mainly skiers. Checking online every few minutes and nothing was happening. Mount Blair would have to wait. We had a weather window this morning and needed to be using it!
We started to look for alternatives.
Todays hike was mainly a rehab one for Mo, so we couldn’t try anything too big, however I suggested Morrone GM/CS-060. It was a slightly longer walk and slightly more climbing. It starts from a car park on the edge of Braemar this side of the snow gates.
1000z and we were away. As Morrone is surrounded on 3 sides by much larger mountains, I ditched the VHF mast and beam, the feeders, choke, short guys etc. I’d be carrying the 7m pole, 40/20m dipole, FT-857 and my handheld. 500m up the track and it suddenly dawned on me that the LiFePO4 battery for the radio was still on the table back home!
We had a quick committee meeting. Mo would carry on and I’d nip back to the car and ditch the heavy radio. I’d have to chance it with the Yaesu FT-3d.
The initial ascent
Back at the car I re-acquired the 2m beam and feeder/choke and headed back up to eventually catch Mo, who by this time had made remarkable progress up the hill.
Finally caught her!
The high Cairngorms plastered with snow
We had carried snow shoes rather than crampons. Further up we donned them, not for deep snow, but for slippery scoured ice and snow. Crampons would have worked equally as well.
There’s no hiding the top of Morrone
Summit not-selfie for a change
Activating Morrone GM/CS-060
A 5 watt handheld and a beam. I suspected I’d make just one contact and that was because I had Simon @GM4JXP lined up from his home in Aboyne down the valley. Every other direction was over much higher ground.
Ready to go!
I Whatsapped Simon and we had a short QSO. I then put my spot on and beamed south.
Good path to Simon in Aboyne
Gavin @GM0GAV came straight back! 5/5 over the top of Glas Maol!
Path to Gavin, near Dundee
Straight after that, Ken @GM0AXY came through faint. However pointing the beam at Glas Maol again improved the signal dramatically.
Path to Ken @GM0AXY, in Edinburgh
Finally, Brian GM8PKL came through for a brief QSO, also from Edinburgh. Four stations, summit qualified and from the middle of a VHF desert, with just the handheld. I was elated!
Glas Maol is a big lump of a mountain and it has a great dome of a summit. I can only presume that the radio waves were diffracting over the top of it. Brilliant!
We packed up and headed down, delighted that we’d got a summit, that Mo had managed to climb it and that I had managed to qualify it.
Heading down to Braemar
Tors on Ben A’an GM/ES-006
Cairn Toul GM/ES-003
I suspect that my success was down to two things:
- The aforementioned propogation benefits of Glas Maol
- Me pestering everyone on here, twitter, whatsapp etc. It really helps with 2m in remote locations.
Huge thanks to Simon, Gavin, Ken & Brian for Chasing today. I hope it was a Complete for maybe a couple of you at least.
Apologies to Don @G0RQL , Ritchie @2W0LWF and Ben @GW4BML , who I’d lined up for some 2m SSB and FM fun from Mount Blair. Next time Chaps!
Oh, and as I finish typing this, a short video has just appeared on YouTube: