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GW4OBK/P GW/NW-035, NW-027, NW-048

Sunday, 25 April 2021 (From my Blog)

At last we can travel to Wales for SOTA…

Its now over a year since I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and dilated cardiomyopathy, which doctors call heart failure. The condition means that my heart lacks the ability to pump blood around my body at the rate it should. Despite being on optimum medication for this condition, my heart stills pumps at a rate of only 32%, when with normal heart function it should pump at 55%-70%, which mine did until two years ago when my heart became damaged - the doctor thinks by a virus (not Covid-19). So having optimised my medication without much improvement I was fitted with a CRT-D Pacemaker (which includes an on board defibrillator) 10 weeks ago. The heart can fail at anything less than 40% ejection fraction so at 32% this little unit could save my life. The pacemaker however, does not appear to have made much difference in terms of my fellwalking ability, although my atrial fibrillation has been fixed, with the unit inside maintaining my heart rate at 60+ when sleeping and 80+ during the daytime. So this one day trip to Wales was a test to determine if I could come anywhere close to my fellwalking ability in the years before my heart became damaged and allow me to continue hill walking and SOTA activating.

GW/NW-035 Manod Mawr (661m)

After leaving my home QTH in North Yorkshire at 0545L I was parked at Manod Mawr slate quarry at 0930L. This was an excellent Sunday morning 200 mile drive with no hold ups whatsoever, on a lovely sunny day.

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Parking at Manod Mawr Quarry for GW/NW-035

A path to the rear of the slate workings leads up to the summit. I followed a GPX track by Simon G4TJC which I downloaded from the SOTA Mapping Project. A discernible path took me right to the summit shelter less than a one mile walk from the car, with 500 feet ascent - 30 minutes walk time, I would grade the walk as easy.

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Quarry waste and scrap metal to rear of the quarry buildings

I was carrying fairly heavy 2m FM gear - a Yaesu FT-1500M mobile radio, 4 AH LiFePo battery, 5m pole and vertical dipole. I had a Yaesu FT-4X handheld and RH770 whip in the sack as backup and a bottle of water. 2m was buzzing with activity when I switched on at 0925z, and the Welsh Association Manager, Roger MW0IDX was first into the log! Great to work an AM who is still active in SOTA having been in the role since 2002. I noticed that many AMs appear in name only in association manuals and no longer take part in chasing or activating.

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GW4OBK/P station pole with antenna on the summit of Manod Mawr GW/NW-035

Several nets, the RSGB news etc meant I finished up on 145.300 MHZ where I made 16 QSOs. The most welcome contacts were S2S with Tom M1EYP on Cloud G/SP-015, Neil and Karen 2E0TDX/2E0XYL on Foel Goch GW/NW-039. It took me 22 minutes to return to my car after an enjoyable walk and activation. My best DX was Alan 2E0AGB in Dewsbury.

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Looking down on the Manod Slate Quarry Workshops on my way down

GW/NW-027 Arenig Fach (689m)

A ten mile drive from NW-035 west towards Bala on the B4391 and A4212 roads, brought me to a gate at the foot of GW/NW-027, Arenig Fach. I parked on the very dry grass verge by the A4212. In wet conditions I would have driven on for 300m and parked in the layby. It was here that I spoke to the only person I saw walking all day, a man about my age - and I met him again on the summit. Before setting out I had some lunch, a pork pie and a pear. All I then had to carry was a small bottle of water plus the radio gear. The walk started well enough on grass, however once I passed through the intake gate in the stone wall at SH 823403 I was into rough heather and the climb became less enjoyable. My heart condition means I now have to stop from time to tiime for a minute or two rest on a climb of this nature. I would have expected to climb this in around 60 minutes a few years ago, but today it took me 95 minutes to climb the 1.5 miles to the summit shelter. This involved an extended “comfort break” behind a wall, if you know what I mean… (Too much information)… There was just under 1200 feet in the climb and the fellwalker I spoke to at the bottom appeared from my left as I approached the shelter. We exchanged a few socially distanced words and then he left the summit to me.

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You don’t get a much better shelter than this one on Arenig Fach

It felt great to be on the summit but bashing through that heather was damned hard work and not enjoyable one bit! It was now 1245z and I switched on the 2m FM band to find plenty of summits audible on the air. Moel y Gamelin, Easington Fell, Tryfen and Shining Tor were all logged for S2S. I logged 12 QSOs in 35 minutes before packing up. When I worked GW4TJC/A Simon he confirmed that my last planned summit of Mynydd Nodol GW/NW-048 nearby, was just as heather crusted as the one I was now on… Maybe I should head back home after this? I decided to wait and see how I felt when I got back to the car. The walk back down to the car took me just 50 minutes, not much slower going down than the old days!

GW/NW-048 Mynydd Nodol (539m)

After a drink and an energy bar and despite Simon’s warning about another heather bash to the summit, I decided to spin the car round and go the the cattle grid parking place for Mynydd Nodol which was only two miles from my current parking spot, but more like 3 miles by road to drive to get around Llyn Celyn reservoir, which is to the north of GW/NW-048:

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Thanks to Simon G4TJC and Gerald MW0WML for the GPX track downloads I got from the SMP ©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey Media 018/21

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Parking on a track near the pylon line just off the lane for Mynydd Nodol GW/NW-048

After following a track for a while I climbed the (unmarked) fence at SH 860394. The unavoidable heather came into my climbing line as I went up by the fence. My arms and legs had little strength left in them now, so it was a case of climb for 25m, rest, then continue. I must have had to stop around 10 times for a minute or two to enable me to complete the short climb. It wasn’t breathing that was my problem but the lack of strength in my arms and legs… Eventually I topped out at the fence corner SH 865392, and a short walk over a small col took me to the summit cairn for my 3rd activation of the day😀

It was the same distance as the walk up Manod Mawr (0.9 miles) with 600 feet ascent, but this climb took me 53 minutes as opposed to the 30 minutes easy walk up to Manod Mawr. The difference being the terrain - easy gradual path compared to a bash through heather on the steep section going up to Mynydd Nodol.

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The summit cairn Mynydd Nodol - I fastened my pole and aerial on the nearby fence

I was on the air at 1545z and made nine QSOs in 20 minutes including an S2S with M7BIA/P Martin, on Gun G/SP-013. I packed up and took the left side of the fence going down which had less heather on it than my route up, until I got near the bottom track, and was back at my car at 1640z. Time out from the car less than two hours and another unique summit bagged.

The drive back to North Yorkshire was uneventful. I took the C road from the summit parking down to Bala and then the usual Chester bypass, Manchester M60 western circuit, M62 and A64 home. I stopped off at Tesco Prestwich for fuel and McDonalds Whitefield near there, for the lousiest burger and chips I have had in my life. I won’t be going back there, it was dreadful - lukewarm chips and a cold big mac.

The trip leaves me with 79 unique summits left to activate to reach my target of 1000 SOTA Completes - that’s 1000 summits chased and activated. I’m hoping that travel restrictions ease soon and we are able to continue with SOTA Touring into Europe again - which should enable me to reach my target before the end of 2022. I was home for 2200 local in time to catch the news and in bed an hour later :zzz::sleeping_bed: I think on future trips like this into North Wales I will consider activating with just a 2m handheld and whip. I could have easily qualified the summits with much lighter gear and enjoyed the climbs without having to keep stopping for rest which made my day less enjoyable. Total distance walked 7 miles, 2350 feet ascent, 395 miles driven.

73 Phil G(W)4OBK/P

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Hi Phil,

Thanks for the report - some great pictures there. I was really pleased to chase you on NW-048 from here in Halewood. My setup here is less than ideal for VHF.

I use a SlimJim and 6m pole with the 818 or a handie and generally find that is adequate for most activations in Wales (and the Lake District). Yesterday I took all my HF kit and a laptop too, but didn’t use it - 2m FM and SSB was fine.

Hope to catch you again soon.
73, Simon

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Actually I was thinking of the more direct route from near the next cattle grid more to the south of the summit. But they both look just as bad!

Thanks for the chases. I would have tried for you on Mynydd Nodol but your QSY from the calling channel dropped you below the noise floor.

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Really enjoyable read and it’s great to hear that you’re able to get out in the hills despite the recent health issues. I think keeping active within your limitations is to be applauded and recommended. My stepfather has a heart condition and rather than accept his fate, he’s kept himself busy and it’s really made a big difference. I supposed the secret is finding the correct balance - knowing when to stop is just as important as the starting!

I hope to work you again soon and given enough notice, I’ll try to chase you on your trips like times of old!

Vy 73 Phil

Colin

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Well done on achieving the three summits in one day, plus the extensive driving of course - excellent for someone that can truly be called a “Hearty”, a term widely used on the BHF forum. It is good to see you back on the hills and enjoying life.

The effect the pace maker has on your ability to climb hills is interesting in that it requires you to stop for “photographic opportunities” (as Pete M0COP would have said). For me that was very much the situation before I had my heart attack. Having stents improved my situation and the bypass operation a year later provided me with greater assurance for the long term. Now I am limited by medication as it limits my heart rate, but it is what it is. There is always something… but I’m not complaining! :grinning:

The target of 1000 Completes is a most admirable one. I’m sure you will make your target and well beyond, so all the best for that.

73, Gerald

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Great read, thank you. Those “empty quarter” summits are always deserted and I’m surprised you saw someone! I have cycled past Mynydd Nodol on a couple of my Shropshire - Pwllheli “big bike rides” - it always feels a long way from anywhere there and it’s usually when I’m feeling at my lowest.

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Great report and photos Phil. Thanks for the contacts on Manod Mawr and Arenig Fach, pity I missed you on Mynydd Nodol.

You did very well considering your health issues. Hope to work you S2S next time.
73
Roger

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Well done Phil,
You set a high bar. Great report and photos in magnificent weather. The last time I activated 3 summits a day was on Shetland in 2018, I learnt my lesson there and generally make a rule of one day one activation. Nevertheless, enjoy what you do and set appropriate challenges.

Regards
David
G0EVV

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Thanks Phil for our contact. Nice photos mate , looks like you had a good day. Isn’t it strange though how you absolutely blasted through on 2m yet I couldn’t hear you at all on HF. Maybe next time Best 73

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Hi Phil, this time without a QSO, at least congratulations on your new car.
Jan OK2PDT

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Hello Phil,
congratulations on your successful tour. I am impressed with the power you have. More than two activations are already too much for me and then another long journey to get there. Respect.
Yesterday I went to Schalke, DM / NS-008, where you have already been. Maybe you remember the area: https://youtu.be/QeEYNaCTEqA

73 Chris

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Excellent outing and report Phil. I’m not sure I’d fancy all that drive followed by a walk up 3 summits, then back to the car and home.

I’m sorry I wasn’t listening out for you - I’d just returned from a SOTA jaunt in the Northern Lakes

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Hi Phil
A jolly good read and lovely photos.
Great to see you are back on the fells, great stuff !

73 Dave