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Happy 20th birthday weekend to SOTA - adventures in Wales

OK, so here’s a report and some images from my full weekend of SOTA fun :slight_smile: being as it was SOTA’s 20th birthday, I thought I’d go wild. Left the home QTH at 04:45 on Saturday and headed towards GW/NW land arriving to climb my first summit of the day, ‘Moel Ysgyfarnogod’ GW/NW-038 at approximately 06:20. I knew there was a gathering today in the Lake District, so was hoping for some S2S action through-out the day! It took me a brisk 50 minute walk to reach the top of MY to find the sun rising in the sky, what a beautiful sight it was too! Even my dog, Mr Brown was amazed by it!

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Set up my SOTA station to operate on 2m FM which included a 4m tele pole with my slim-g attached, running into my Yaesu FT-65e hand-held. Put a CQ SOTA call out on S20 and managed 4 early birds in the log. Put a few final calls out and made for my descent. Time to move on to the next summit of the day which was ‘Moelfre’ GW/NW-041. The sun was now beating down on the ground which had melted a lot of ice and frost away, which resulted in parts being rather boggy and slippery under feet.

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After a little plodding and snaking from side-to-side, I reached the top of Moelfre to find a nice Cairn I could of sat in, but because the wx was so nice, I decided to operate on top of a style close by.

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Again calling CQ SOTA on S20 and QSY’ing to a free frequency, I managed another 4 itl with one being a S2S station, GW0POT/p. After putting a couple of final calls out, I packed away and eyed my next summit up in the distance, which was ‘Y Llethr’ GW/NW-017.

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This was a 2.5 mile gradual climb to the top following an old stone wall which looked like it had been maintained extremely well! I did stop half way up for a drink and snack to fuel the legs :slight_smile: Mr Brown overtook me at this point and beat me to the summit.

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I took a few images as the views were outstanding of the Rhinog valley, and then found an office in the sun against the stone wall. Set up my station and put a call out waving the SOTA flag to say happy 20th birthday.

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Managed 9 itl with 4 being S2S stations GW4TQE/p, GW4VPX/p, G8CPZ/p & M0TRI/p. Put a final call out and packed away. The sun was now directly above me with a slight breeze in the air, perfect wx for walking/hiking on the mountains. This doesn’t happen many times in the winter, so I quickly decided to move over to my next summit on the list which was in the distance, ‘Rhinog Fach’ GW/NW-078. This was a new summit added to the NW SOTA list in 2021 and defined as a moderate/hard climb.

Mr Brown and I descended Y Llethr which was a rather vertical drop and both stopped for a snack and drink in the Bwlch. Once we refuelled, it was time to crack on! The climb to RF was steep, but there was a path all the way to the top. Unfortunately, one part was a boulder field where Mr Brown couldn’t climb over! We were in this adventure together, so I had to carry him for approximately 20 yards over the boulders until he could begin walking again.

We reached the top to more amazing views and got set up in the sun. Put a call out on S20 and worked a nice pile-up having 14 itl with 9 being S2S stations, MW6BWA/p, GW4VPX/p, GW4TQE/p, GB2OTA/p, MW0IDX/p, EI6FR/p, MW1CJE/p GW0MHF/p & M0KPW/p.

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Put a few final calls out and made our way down. It was a good 3 mile hike back to the car now, the descent was a bit iffy, but once we reached the path, it was a clear run to the vehicle! Loaded Mr Brown in, the rucksack was off and we headed for our next and final summit of the day, ‘Y Garn’ GW/NW-037 calling for an ice-cream as we by-passed Barmouth :slight_smile:
Arrived at our next parking spot which was by a forest and got ready to go go go. Looking on SOTA Watch, Y Garn had not been activated many times in the past… I wonder why?? Well, I can tell you why :slight_smile: it was literally a 2.5 mile up hill pull until the top was reached. The only forgiving straight part was at the start to fool you.

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Anyway, Mr Brown and I plodded on and reached the top with not much breath to spare! Set my station up just below the standing summit stones.

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I switched the radio on to hear Pete MW0PJE/p calling CQ SOTA from a summit near by, so I called in to get the S2S. I then worked a very happy Viki MW6BWA/p and Rod MW0JLA/p who had never chased ‘Y Garn’ before as a S2S contact. It was a pleasure giving you both a unique (you owe me a pint) :slight_smile: it was now time to call CQ SOTA myself on S20. I managed a nice little pile-up ending with 11 contacts in my log. Put a final call-out and quickly made for my descent while the sun was still in the sky.

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It took a lot less time going back down, I can tell you! Hahaa, reached the vehicle, Brown jumped in and I off loaded my equipment. The vehicle was started and off we headed for home just as the sun was setting in the land of NW.

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Arrived home to a cheeky Nando’s takeaway and a very good tasting cold pint of Guinness! It was bed time now after a great day had and a joint activation waiting for me in the morning (Sunday).
The alarm clock went off, I woke and tried to convince my legs to let me get out of bed! Once they agreed, I packed my rucksack and we went as a family to meet Mr Jones @GW4VPX to tackle the summit of ‘Drygarn Fawr’ GW/MW-003 in MW land. This was a nice 3 mile stroll to the summit passing through forestry land, moor land and some rocky areas.

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While Allan set up for HF, I set up my station for 2m FM. We both managed to qualify the summit while the dogs were running around playing in the sun and wind.

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Once we had worked all stations that called into us, we had a sandwich and drink, then made for our descent.

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I’d like to thank all the great supportive chasers and activators that called into all my SOTA activations over the weekend. HAPPY 20th ANNIVERSARY SOTA :slight_smile: lets hope for many many more years of SOTA fun! Keep those mountains alive folks! Until next time, take care.

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Hello Ben. Thanks very much for the s2s on Y Garn which was a complete as I only chase from summits on the handy and I had told you that not many people went up Y Garn - now you have discovered why - but that was a lovely easy way compared with the older routes (thanks to Gerald WML). You’ll have to try hard to claim that pint as you will have to SLOW DOWN or even SIT DOWN as I will never catch you up otherwise!!

M0JLA and I decided to join in the anniversary fun so I strapped up my sprained ankle (souvenir of Tor y Foel 5 weeks earlier - not good news) and started up GW/MW-002 Great Rhos from the outskirts of New Radnor. Rod tried to turn back when he discovered how slowly I was walking on the grass verge but I thought things would improve gradually (and they did, he couldn’t catch me up on some of the ascent!). Turning onto the road to the munitions range by Haines Mill we followed the babbling stream,


fortunately with a bridge, and then started the long incline with views over the range

(those hoping for pictures of ice and snow had better leave now!) All in glorious sunshine (but with a bitter wind) and some unsettling shadows

The old route up the ridge is no longer available as the danger area was extended in 2018 so we now have to cross the ridge and skirt one of the many deep valleys

which is eventually crossed along with a fence, after a steep descent and ascent. We eventually decided to ignore all the corner cutting sheep paths and kept along the bridleway, then found a faint track almost at right angles which leads across the flat ground to the danger area fence again and an unwelcoming nailed up ‘gate’ (which we crossed on the way back - unhappily on my part). Following the fence used to take you to an easy crossing (but the fence has now been reinforced) and a walk up beside the danger area to the AZ and a choice of heather tussocks from which to activate - none of these were liked by my ankle so I burrowed into the heather as much as possible and attached a reduced mast to the fence (and a couple of guys) in the hopes it would survive the arctic wind. No pictures now - much too cold and uninteresting but still the sunshine or I wouldn’t have stayed there for over an hour. We (and Ben) weren’t the only ones out and I rattled off more S2S than ‘real’ people! Thanks to MW0NLG (Moel Siabod NW-010), GW4TQE (Cyrn y Brain NW-043), GW4BML (Rhinog Fach NW-078), MW1CJE and MW7NWV (Pen y Fan SW-001), GW4VPX (Beacon Hill MW-009), MW5RJC (Corndon Hill MW-013), MW0PJE (Tarrenhendre, NW-036), GW0POT (Fan Fawr SW-005) and GW0MHF (Tal y Fan NW-040). Even greater thanks to those who were able to repeat the S2S on 70cm - or even just talk to me only on 70cm (Tal y Fan) as I was closing down. What a harvest - 9 different summits and a total of 19 contacts (10 2m, 9 70cm). Needless to say we were rather later than planned but I had to remain careful on the way down.

We moved to our favourite lay-by and started slowly up Gwaunceste (GW/MW-010) on the road up through the farm (no dogs spotted me but Rod caused more noise. The sun still shone and we were soon ascending the partly mown heather slopes to the trig. I attempted a quick S2S with the stick aerial but it was somewhat delayed by repeated attempts to pick up bits of my equipment that were blown off the trig! Eventually M6NSV (Pole Bank G/WB-005 and English summit) was in the bag and I descended onto the heathery slope to try to get out of the wind but leave the dipole on the plateau. In just less than an hour a further 18 contacts were made (13 2m, 7 70cm) including the absolutely vital S2S with GW4BML (Y Garn NW-037)! At 1656 it was getting suddenly colder and the sun was starting to descend - time to take down


Rod was already winding and I hadn’t started. All taken down with frozen fingers, down through the heather and back down to the farm road

Will we reach the car in time?

Just!

Thanks everyone for braving the cold wind (did I see the LD activators were commenting there was no wind … but they did have some snow!!) and for hearing my 5w signal. I am sure that 11 different summits in one day is a new record for me and the S2S points should help me to inch further towards the magic 5000.
Viki

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@GW4BML Hi Ben, Thanks for the report, photos and the company of you, Martha and Lyra today…great day and Mr Brown and Sniff made a good job of bringing down my HF antenna :rofl: …looking forward to the next one. 73 Allan

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@M6BWA Thanks for the great report and photos Viki. Thanks also for the s2s on 2m and 70cms from your first summit…cracking signals but I think we could have waved to each other :rofl:

73 & 88 Allan GW4VPX

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I’ll always slow down for a pint of Guinness, hi.

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Great report and photos Viki & Rod, it was a pleasure to make the S2S contact on two different mountains. Definitely look forward to the next!

73, GW4BML. Ben

Good job Ben! Great hike, great WX and great activations!

Need to get you up into the Cairngorms where you can really stretch those legs. :wink:

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Wow, that was a lot of SOTA-ing in one day! :smiley: I heard you calling CQ when you were on Rhinog Fach, but couldn’t get through. Maybe next time. :slight_smile:

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Hey Ben, what kind of hound is Mr. Brown? Is he a Malamute or Malamute cross of some kind?

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Great report and photos Ben, thanks for the contact & happy 20th birthday SOTA!

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Thanks Fraser, the wx was perfect for the job :blush:

I’m looking forward to our meet up end of April, you can show me the Cairngorms then. It would be great to stretch the legs on a 10 pointer :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Sorry Sara, I did have the normal set up. 2m conditions aren’t very good at the mo :disappointed: hope to work you next time. Take care.

73, GW4BML. Ben

Hi Andy, believe it or not, he’s a pure border collie out of one of our farm dogs. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with dwarfism and we were told he might not live very long……. But, he is now 6 years of age and climbed over 100 summits since September 2021 :blush: he’s my SOTA partner and is as fit as a fiddle.

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Hi Roger, thank you also for the contact, it was a manic weekend on the hills for everyone :blush: look forward to the next and it was great to get both your SOTA call-signs in the log :+1:

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Yeah, the signal faded after a few minutes and I had set up on the patio, so not as good as my usual spot on the lawn (but meant that I could sit inside and out of the wind).

It was nice hearing you anyway. :slight_smile:

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It was a good idea setting up in the warm, the wind was very chilly on Saturday! Many thanks for the kinds words, we’ll deffo make the qso soon :blush:

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Hi Ben, thanks for an interesting report and photos.

cheers Geoff vk3sq :beer:

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Your very welcome Geoff :blush: many thanks.

73, GW4BML. Ben

Hi Ben,

Great report and fab pix. Not sure if our Frenchie would last the distance but who knows till I bring her along. Pity I didn’t get to work you this time round so, 73 till the next one!

Lea.

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Hi Lea,

Many thanks for your kind worlds below. It was a great weekend on the mountains and both Mr Brown and myself slept well Sunday evening, hahaa! Sorry I missed you this time, but there will always be the next :blush:

73, GW4BML. Ben