Marianne issued an official SOTA pass-out for Saturday 10th August 2013. It then turned out that Jimmy had a couple of days of leave left, and his boss had told him he could take one on the Friday. An updated request went in, and Marianne upgraded our pass-outs to cover two days.
So we set off around 7am on the morning of Friday 9th August 2013, “Liam’s Road Trip” style - ie, without any accommodation booked. This turned out to be an error of judgement; I hadn’t taken into account that the Lleyn Peninsular on a Friday night in the summer holidays was a different kettle of fish to non-resort areas in February!
We stopped for breakfast at the Y Badell Aur cafe in Bala. This was OK but unspectacular and on the dear side. We will probably use a different cafe the next time we pass through.
The first objective was Arenig Fach GW/NW-027, a prospect that had me slightly nervous as I recalled Shirley MW0YLS describing the ascent as “horrible”. Jimmy M0HGY had done his homework though and was fully briefed as to the route, characteristics and landmarks to be encountered.
We parked on small narrow verge on the A4212, opposite the entrance to Uwch-Mynydd at SH826400. Here there was just room to squeeze the car between the hedge and the white line on the side of the road. I wasn’t very happy about leaving the car here, but Jimmy assured me this was the parking spot everyone used. There would be a much better space opposite, on a bigger area of flat grass by the track and PROW to Uwch-Mynydd, but beyond the gate so perhaps prohibited.
Crossing the stile, we were immediately into an unpleasantly steep ascent up a grassy slope. We took wider zigzags whenever possible, but even so needed hands down for some mild scrambling in places. Upon reaching the intake wall at SH823403, we paused for a rest and a drink before passing through the gate and turning left, slightly downhill.
There was now a very faint path to follow alongside a stream as we passed beneath Y Foel, delaying the inevitable steep slog up heather for as long as we possibly could. Inevitably, the inevitable came, and we veered right and uphill. We didn’t really see anything to match what has been described as a “grassy ramp” around here though.
Upon reaching the saddle between Y Foel and Arenig Fach, we could see, at last, a clear path between the two. But that could wait as we were ready for a rest. A little drizzle just started at this time as well, so Jimmy and I plonked ourselves down on the heather with my large bothy bag giving us shelter.
To be honest, by the time the bothy bag was over us, the rain had stopped! But the shelter and rest for five minutes gave us a very welcome respite, and renewed energy and motivation to proceed to the summit. This did not take much longer, and as reported elsewhere, the summit of Arenig Fach is magnificent, and deserves better than the ugly route needed to attain it! But on the flip side, this also meant we had the summit to ourselves, including the rather fine stone shelter.
Setting up the 12m groundplane was easy, and the feeder was dropped into the shelter with plenty of slack. The MFD atop the SOTA Pole arrangement was more tricky in brisk wind, but ultimately successful, and also with the feeder dropped into the shelter. This did mean that Jimmy and I would be operating in close proximity to each other. While the 2m and 12m do not cause QRM between each from a radio point of view, mine and Jimmy’s voices can distract each other when so close together!
Jimmy MW0HGY/P had a good 2m FM activation with 26 QSOs, including S2S with Adrian GW4AZS/P on Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011 and Colin M0NVJ/P on Selworthy Beacon G/SC-005. The latter was certainly indicative of the lift conditions on 2m at the time, although this also came with the baggage of some QSB issues. I tail-ended Jimmy’s two S2S QSOs for two 2m FM contacts in my log, which was otherwise populated by seventeen on 12m CW (including S2S with Miro OK1DVM/P on Andrluv Chlum OK/PA-023), twelve on 12m SSB (including another S2S with Adrian GW4AZS/P on Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011) and five on 12m PSK31.
Jimmy and I then opted to consume our entire litre flask of Baxter’s Cock-a-leekie soup in one sitting in the summit shelter, as we reflected on a successful activation of 62 QSOs between us. And despite a couple of grotty bits, I had quite enjoyed the ascent. We slightly varied the descent once below the intake wall, to try to find a less steep and less scrambly way down. We got down OK, but glancing back revealed the brutal steepness of the slope, and I couldn’t help but suffer flashbacks of the Wind Gap incident from just over a year earlier (Pillar G/LD-006).
Back in the car we headed off in a westerly direction along the A4212. A long drive beckoned, for the next target was the new SOTA summit of Mynydd Anelog GW/NW-077.