Good intentions... and apologies

In some ways, posting an alert for an activation is an activity akin to eating out in a restaurant. What you order is not necessarily what you can manage… if you see what I mean.

Last weekend I posted for 5 summits. I thought that I had meticulously planned my weekend away taking in 2 new GM/SS summits and 3 G/NP summits. The travel timings (by car) went extremely well. It was a different situation when it came to walking the ground and operating.

Comparing my plans against what I actually achieved can be summarised as follows -

GM/SS-170 (Saturday)
Planned 144MHz SSB, 5MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1 hour
Actual 144MHz SSB, 5MHz SSB, 7MHz CW nearly 2 hours
Late arrival due to ground conditions, so I opted for "Plan B"
Inadequate time allowed for activation, particularly for a previously unactivated summit at a weekend.

GM/SS-181 (Saturday)
Planned same as SS-170. Summit abandoned due to 6.5km walk in and likelihood of similar ground conditions. Apologies to those hoping to find me on this one.

GM/SS-245 (Saturday)
This was the alternative to SS-181 in my “Plan B” and fortunately I had the sense to take the summit access information with me. I decided before ascent that I would have insufficient time to operate HF, so took 70cms with me instead which proved to be worthwhile as my best DX was Don G0RQL in Devon.

G/NP-006 (Sunday)
Planned 144MHz SSB, 5MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1 hour
Actual 144MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1.5 hours
Apologies to those hoping for a contact on 5MHz. I worked many of the 60m chasers on 2m, so cut down my schedule. There were many contacts on 7MHz CW.

G/NP-030 (Sunday)
Planned 144MHz SSB, 5MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1 hour
Actual 144MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1.5 hours
I checked the summit data sheet and noted that this summit had received less activation on 7MHz than on 5MHz, so I adopted the same principle. Apologies as per NP-006.

G/NP-018 (Sunday)
Planned 144MHz SSB, 5MHz SSB, 7MHz CW 1 hour
Abandoned in favour of “Plan B” for Sunday which changed my final summit to a more accessible summit in terms of time.

G/NP-016 (Sunday)
Planned as per NP-018 (only summit change)
Actual 144MHz SSB, 144MHz FM
HF activation abandoned due to rapid deterioration in weather conditions with visibility down to less than 50m and rain.

So what have I learned? Basically not to have “eyes bigger than my stomach”. In future, I will try to keep to a maximum of two bands for a typical 1 hour activation - sometimes even that can stretch the schedule. I will base my judgement on which bands to activate on the information given on the summit sheets. The weather is a totally unknown factor which cannot be planned in and therefore abandonment of an activation on those grounds requires no apology. Another unknown is where the summit has not previously been activated. Cairnsmore (Black Craig of Dee) SS-170 proved to be a considerable physical challenge for the single point and even my generous allowance for the ascent proved to be insufficient. I had tried to research the summit on the Internet, but found little except for the description “the walk is on typical Galloway ground, pathless, heathery, tussocks and muddy in bits”. Unfortunately “typical Galloway ground” was a total unknown to me - at least I had an alternative plan. By contrast I had read up an excellent report in a MARHOFN about White Top of Culreoch SS-245 and was prepared with a mental route which turned out to be as read.

I know Activators should not need to apologise as they “control the show”, but I do appreciate that people may be wasting time looking for me on a alerted frequency only to have their hopes dashed.

Thanks to all who contacted me. I will be issuing full reports in due course… when I’ve caught up with my sleep.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:

Snap! Galloway ground is hard work, unbelievably hard work. Like you I was simply unable to manage the second summit because it had taken so much longer than planned to get up Craignaw. Still Mullwharcher will still be there next time. And I’ll know to allow next time to allow for the terrible ground. Still the weather was Glorious on Saturday. (Yes, glorious with a capital G!)

Funny though because the main route up Merrick via Benyellary, which is just across from Craignaw, is steep but good ground. You wouldn’t think there’d be so much difference.

Activation report and pictures to come including report of the OIG/FMF rendezvous.


Good stuff Gerald. It can often be a concern from an activator’s point of view, failing to turn up on certain bands and/or summits at certain times. It musn’t be though. The activator has to descend safely - first priority. It looks like you made some good decisions Gerald, and I imagine some of your modified plans were mentioned in your summit contacts.

I did attempt to call you shortly after you worked Jimmy, to emulate his S2S from The Cloud to Dodd Fell Hill. There was no response, but you had mentioned the weather closing in, and your concern at route finding off the summit. I can fully empathise with this, having been caught out somewhat up there during the Pennine Way walk in 2006. Losing Jimmy in awful visability was not fun - thank goodness for our handheld radios:

Glad you got home safely Gerald. I will log your Dodd Fell activation in the SOTA SWL section.

Cheers, Tom M1EYP

In reply to G4OIG:

I don’t think you need be concerned Gerald, quite the opposite in fact, you are to be congratulated on a fine weekends work. There is not a single chaser who would tell you otherwise. Well done on some excellent activations and thanks for all of the summits.

73 Mike GW0DSP

P.S. Superb sigs from EVERY summit too.

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom,

Sorry that I wasn’t on frequency when you called me. I had sloped off to 145.450 with Ron EVX for another S2S… quite a run of them to finish off my activation.

Dodd Fell Hill was recommended to me by Myke DDQ as an easier option to Nine Standards for my final hill of the day, knowing that I’d been out the previous day with a short night in the car and a two and a half hour drive between. I did mention the possibility in my alert and confirmed the change on 2m SSB, but of course it isn’t possible to provide such information on 40m CW. I know several 40m Chasers were looking for me on my third summit as they purposely sent CUL during their QSOs with me on Lovely Seat.

The descent route from Dodd Fell Hill was actually located easily with a couple of sections of quad bike “impressions” taking me more or less to the cairn. I couldn’t see much (it’s fairly featureless anyway), but I knew that if all failed I could drift right and find the Pennine Way without much problem. At least I didn’t have the trudge into Hawes. I can imagine your every step and all I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t with you!

73, Gerald

P.S. Just to be certain of my exit route, on my arrival at the summit I made an arrow mark in the hag near to the trig point pointing the way out.

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy,

Good to meet up with you on Saturday evening. It certainly made my weekend.

In respect of “typical Galloway ground”, I don’t know what could be done to overcome it. I’ve never seen the likes of this before. Fortunately I chose the best route I could up the forest track and the trees facing the hill had been felled which provided me with a much better route than the damp grassy firebreaks would have. From the edge of the felled section around 240m up to about the 350m contour was the worst part of the ascent and descent, though it wasn’t that much better further up where the terrain included slippery rocks. For once my descent speed was not that much quicker than my ascent speed.

73, Gerald

In reply to GW0DSP:

Sorry I didn’t get around to a response to your comment yesterday Mike. The phone rang just as I was about to apply finger to keyboard!

Thanks for your kind words. I do try to be reasonably accurate with my alerts and I have done 4 summits in a day where the drift up to the ETA (estimated time of activity) on the final summit was no more than + or - 10 minutes. I always have in mind chasers sitting in front of rigs tuning several bands looking for activators, others juggling jobs around the house and in the garden with radio… There is an advantage to being accurate for the activator as well - a better guarantee of having an audience. There’s nothing worse than no response to a CQ call when you open up on a band.

One apology I must make relates to recent activity and the incidence of good conditions on VHF. I hope that people will forgive me if I seem somewhat less than enthusiastic when told the band is open to the continent. It is not that I don’t wish to work the DX. What I am primarily looking for from a summit is a run of SOTA chasers in order to give points away. Having said that, if the DX comes I will work it and indeed it was a great pleasure to speak to old friend Pierre F6FLB from Great Shunner Fell on Sunday.

73, Gerald

P.S. I have been licensed and active on 2m since 1969, working stations as far afield as CT, 9H1, UB5, UA2, OH, etc, etc. I no longer feel the need to hunt for DX. Now if 23cms is open…

In reply to G4OIG:
Hi Gerald.
Good to catch you on a couple of your summits over the weekend.
Don’t suppose you know whether you were in the district of Craven or Richmondshire during the NP-016 activation?

In reply to G4FUJ:

I was sat next to the pond around the trig point, so I assume Richmondshire. The OS map shows the administrative boundary running to the south of the hill which I assume to be the border between the two you have noted.

If I’m wrong, no doubt someone more local will correct me.

73, Gerald

PS - just looked at the Richmondshire site -
Confirms Dodd Fell Hill is one of theirs.

In reply to G4OIG:

Cheers for that :slight_smile: - another for my WAB districts award on vhf/uhf.

73 Graham G4FUJ