GM/SS-277, Brutal!

I used to have card above my desk which said “Eat a live toad every morning, Then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day”. Yesterday I was sorry that I’ve given up the practice. GM/SS-277, aka mount hill, at a mere 221 metres is just a tiny pimple. Home to the Hopetoun monument, a 29 metre stone tower it is, normally, literally, a walk in the park. That is, apart from on a day when the local airport (down at a sheltered sea level) is reporting a sustained 60km/h windspeed with 93km/h gusts. Really, it wasn’t, mostly, that bad. There was a wee bit of a blizzard on the way up but that passed and when we got there it was actually quite pleasant (well, as pleasant as a temperature on departure from the car of 4C can be). We got setup in the doorway of the tower which magically

a) was in the lee of the wind and
b) facing directly into the sun (when it was there)

and it all seemed to be going very well.

The radio is a newly arrived ft817 so I had to come out and play! (and the walk up was such a delight after having done it with a ts2000). It became quickly clear that there was no way that a mast actually standing in the clear, would be. Standing, that is. But we did manage to get the mast wedged against the tower and tied to its door handle. Not ideal but standing in a roughly upright fashion albeit with the aerial against the stone. It’s a rough 1/4 wave wire on 7mhz plus ATU and a couple of groundplane counterpoises.

I got operational a little after 11:00 with the first qso at 11:23 and continued till 12:30. 7MHZ ssb seemed ok with 25 worked . I didn’t seem to be getting out as well as I was receiving, although 5 watts to an aerial against a large lump of stone was probably going to be a challenge. 14mhz ssb yielded 24 QSOs with what seemed to be a conduit to the azores,

which was nice to think of sunny islands because then the wind picked up

and the snow started with a vengence so we gave up and fled.

A good time was had and thanks for the qsos! I nearly lost the log when the pad was torn from my hand by a gust! At one point mid CQ we just had to stop and hunker down from the wind! I found the whole process of running a station and keeping a log in those conditions a real challenge, hard to stay on top of what was happening and keep saying the right thing on the radio. Have mercy on activators when they seem to have lost all operating skills…

Arriving back at the car, it reported the temperature was down to 2C, bailing out was a good move.

Andy gm8oeg


Welcome to SOTA activating in the Winter :wink:

Good activation report.


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Protecting the rig is a prime consideration when there is snow about. If it gets onto your FT-817, you’ll find it will melt immediately as the rig runs hot. It happened to me and mine had to go back to the suppliers for an expensive service. It was a wise decision to descend.

When you’ve a few more activations under your belt Andy, you’ll scoff at 2C. It does get quite challenging at minus 10C… equally so at plus 36C. :wink:

73, Gerald G4OIG

I’ve done 60+ weeks skiing in europe and met temperatures well below -10c often enough, but what is new is the idea of sitting around doing nothing in it! Similarly prior walking trips, you get to the summit, admire the view and then b***r off somewhere less brutal!

I don’t expect to meet +36 here in Scotland either, but for the last 10+ years I’ve taken a couple of weeks holiday in Kos with several sorties each time walkiing in nissyros/Kos/Kalymnos. Particularly Kalymnos where I’ve walked all the SOTA peaks many times, none, I see, have ever been activated! I’m wondering if i dare take equipment to greece, they do have a track record of harassing radio amateurs.


As you say Andy, it’s sitting still that is the issue. In my opinion, having the ability to make a rudimentary shelter is a necessity when activating in adverse conditions, not least to negate the effects of wind chill. Hopetoun monuments are in short supply! Even with the best clothing available you can get chilled when out on a summit. On a couple of occasions I have come to realise that I have stayed too long on a summit because I have started talking or sending gibberish. Some would say I am like that normally. :smile:

If you fancy activating abroad in the sun, you might consider the Algarve. I have activated all the summits in CT/AL and must say that everyone I met was most welcoming. I have operated from Kefalonia as well, but not from a summit - maybe the next time we go. The subject of operating from the Greek islands has been raised on the reflector before - search for Dinos SV3IEG, Kefalonia, etc under the Old Reflector section. I don’t think it is as bad as some have made out.

73, Gerald G4OIG

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I don’t know, this story from 2012 is from where I want to go (the ferry to Kalymnos leaves from where DJ6SI was staying) : DJ6SI Arrested in Greece for operating Ham Radio

Until I read that I had been thinking it would be a nice idea, I’ve also heard of someone else being arrested in Kos using a handheld a while earlier but can’t find any references to that now.

Andy gm8oeg


This is but one example of people put into a position of authority not having the knowledge/training/intelligence/fortitude to deal with an unusual situation. When a complaint or tip-off is received there is pressure to do something. Whether it be a Park Ranger demanding a squid pole be taken down because it is a dangerous source of radiation/interference or spoils the view, or a police official who breaks tourists fingers to get them to confess to being a spy it’s all the same basic response. It’s better to risk being reprimanded for being over zealous than fired for not acting. And if that radio amateur is a spy you will be a hero. In the 1970’s and 1980’s in VK Defence personnel were required to view UK films on security training where the spy was usually a radio amateur. I expect other countries might still be using those films. People who climb to prime viewing spots with radios are always going to be challenged at some time.

In all cases we must be co-operative but politely insist that we be given 2 minutes to explain what we are up to. If you try to fight the local authority you will lose out certainly in the short term and the longer term results might not be good either.

This Greek example is something we should learn from.


I remember the case back in 2012 and recall being alarmed, but not entirely surprised given all that hassle over photographers plane-spotting some years previous. I think one away around it might be to establish contact with a local amateur on the island before you go so you have a knowledgeable ally to back you up if anything did go wrong.

It is unfortunate that incidents like this happen as it can put people off doing what is a perfectly reasonable and legal activity. Thankfully, when I have operated abroad (France, Italy and Portugal) everyone has been most supportive, even though there has sometimes been a language barrier and what I am doing has been hard to explain. I had no issues on Kefalonia and used my handheld openly without any problems, but it does make you think…

73, Gerald G4OIG

P.S. I am back up in Scotland next month to carry some activations, so I hope the summit police don’t make a visit. :wink: