Red Screes G/LD-017 was the subject of today’s outing. I managed to be well prepared on Friday night so the ascent started at just after 8am. Outside temperature was being reported as -3 degC. I noted the wind turbines behind the Kirkstone Pass Inn were not moving, a rare sight indeed. However, I know from previous experience that conditions 45 minutes up the hill can be very different!
The ascent was thankfully ice free - the stone staircase no fun when slippery underfoot - and I made steady progress to the top. The sight of frosty grass at the end of the ascent had me thinking back to my first ever SOTA activation, on this summit. The rime ice on the antenna was only matched by onset hypothermia. Thankfully I have learnt a great deal in the subsequent four years and this time I was packing a tarp to block the worst of the wind.
Sunrise over Kirkstone Pass
Predictably the sheltered approach was rewarded with a biting wind at the top. At times it reached around 15 knots or so, which at -5 degC air temperature made the Tarp shelter an absolute requirement. I don’t think I’d have lasted more than about 20 minutes otherwise. Fortunately I got good footing for the pegs and didn’t have to run after it at any point!
Great views as always towards Ullswater, with some folk braving the walk from Middle Dodd. With the unusual Easterly wind I setup on the leeward side which gave my little summit shelter a wonderful view towards the Westerly range of Lake District Summits. The light changed continuously over the course of the activation, making the fells alternate between dark brooding that winter conditions seem to accentuate, to bright popping colours of autumn.
I’d optimised my weight for this trip, partly as an exercise in shedding unnecessary weight, and partly for the insights weighing everything can provide. With this new-to-me Super Antenna MP1 the big revelation was that by leaving the 60m and 80m coils and associated radials, together with the supplied case meant I could save around 900g in pack weight.
It’s been recommended by my physio that I don’t carry too much load on my back, so one of the changes I’ve made is to use my PowerPort FT-817 case with waist belt to take the transceiver weight off my back on to my hips. The remaining rucksack contents today was about 4kg, this just feels so much lighter than I’d usually be carrying.
The rucksack weight included a JetBoil, matches instead of lighter (50g saved, assuming they work!) a space blanket and coffee sachets. No packed water. I know there is a decent tarn on the top so a water filter meant more savings in weight.
Band conditions, as you probably know, are quite amazing. Having only had a license for a few years we are moving into uncharted solar activity for me. Using a 5w transceiver and a vertical antenna seems so easy when solar conditions are favourable!
The Super Antenna MP1, with two sets of radials deployed allowed me to try my hand at 40m, 20m, 17m and 15m today, with 12m, 10m and 6m saved for another outing.
I believe I had the first ever 15m QSO from Red Screes today with Stavros SV2RUJ, making a rare shack appearance! 40m was buzzing with activity, and - having setup on the Westerly side of the summit - to say getting a spot sent was a challenge - is an understatement. The phone dance ensued a few times, not without some cursing when a free frequency was no longer vacant by the time the spot had finally registered!
I was keen to get a S2S with Joe @OE5JFE on OO/OE-349 and even though he wasn’t that strong with me did a good job of picking me up as a S2S opportunity, thank you to the patient chasers.
With just under two and a half hours on summit the 40m run was conducted with some considerable shaking - signalling me to end radio and get moving again. Fortunately the 40m skip was running short allowing me to get a good proportion of the UK chasers in the log who might normally work me on 80m.
Two other activators were braving the cold G/LD peaks - @M0MZB Matthew on G/LD-009 Grasmoor - in the log via 2m FM (apologies for cutting you off, the internal FT-817 battery died mid QSO) and also on 40m SSB and sounding great, and @G7KSE Alex on G/LD-030 Black Coombe.
I’ll leave you with a few photos, the rest are on Google Photos.
- Mark. M0NOM
Langdales in the foreground
Distinctive summit of Great Gable centre right