It’s the only word for it. I drove up to Gun G/SP-013 this morning after dropping Liam off at work. I placed the specially made 6m/10m GP Challenge antenna into my rucksack and negotiated my way to the summit. I say ‘negotiated’ because every footstep needed to be strategically considered and carefully placed in order to avoid drowning.

I reached the trig point, extended the pole and suspended the driven element (with trap) from the top. I extended the four radials and pegged them out. It was then I looked at the BNC socket at the feedpoint, and it dawned on me I had not thought to bring any feeder cable…

Packed it all away and tried to make a 2m FM activation out of it on the VX7 handie. And tried and tried and tried. After 15 minutes or so, I got one caller from Tamworth, which at least made an activation out of the escapade. A one QSO activation.

All that remained was to dance and skip back down the “path” and see how unwet I could keep my trainers. All rather pathetic really. Upon return to my car, I got my hands on the errant feeder cable and placed it into my rucksack. An outing to The Cloud G/SP-015 is in order this afternoon I feel.


I did much the same thing on Great Mell Fell, earlier this year - it makes you feel like a right pillock!


Glad I was able to have the QSO. At least it wasn’t a total waste, I know how frustrating it can be to find that vital piece of kit missing.


It was wellies for me on the Gunn on Saturday.

Not a place for breaking in my new canvas walking boots :frowning:

Better luck this afternoon.


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I expect we have all been there Tom, though I have never failed to qualify due to leaving something at home - bet it wont be long though before that happens, the grey cells seem to be getting weaker by the day. Today it was getting callsigns mixed up all the time!!!

73 Glyn

Fortunately I qualified many activations ago this year!

Hello Tom -

I did the same thing a few years ago on Lava Butte - W7O/CE-188. Got to the top and the coax jumper from the radio to the tuner was in the other backpack. Back at the car.

I took a couple pieces out of my counterpoise and stuffed them into the connectors and made 27 QSOs. McGyver-ing has a place in SOTA. If I didn’t have a multi-tool it would not have happened.

73, Etienne-K7ATN


Don’t hit yourself too hard Tom - we’ve all done something similar at some time. It’s usually a 2 dollar item that you forget to pack, but it doesn’t matter if it was a 2000 dollar part - without it, nothing works. At least you were able to get one contact from the summit using the VX7.


I remembered every component for this afternoon’s activation of The Cloud G/SP-015. I was settling in for a legendary activation when the first two CQ calls brought back WX4ET and PY1MK within the space of 60 seconds! Things then dried up rapidly, and while three more US stations were worked, I finished on a measly 7 contacts.

10m CW: 5
10m SSB: 1
10m PSK31: 1


In my case it was the FT-817 on my first ever HF activation (attempt). I discovered that I’d left it in my car boot after I had erected the antenna and was looking for somewhere to put the coax (no suggestions necessary thank you). I wish I’d left the 5Kg SLAB behind instead!
So… I feel for you Tom!

I have read many posts of different activators telling stories about the things they forgot in the car or at home and realising just when about to start hiking or even, as worst case, once in the summit with the antenna fully installed in the middle of a miserable weather.
I’m always thinking that this will happen to me one day or other and I try to be as methodic as possible in order to avoid such situation.
I already forgot one part of the cable from batteries to rig once when I activated Mt. Sutxu, but fortunatelly I had a small screwdriver with me at the summit and I managed to improvise a fix, so the activation was carried out succesfully.
But I’m still worried about forgetting something and I try to avoid this by always having everything I need for a SOTA activation inside my rucksack, except for the fishing rod and the mobile whip antennas that I keep in the trunck or boot of my car and I carry in my hand when hiking to a summit.
It’s working so far, but I’m still worried everytime I’m going out to activate…
Best 73 de Guru

I carry a couple of alligator/crocodile clip leads for that reason! have been caught out too.


I once swore I would never tell this tale…but yours deserves a response!

On July 18, 2014, I did a very nice activation of W0C/PR-018 - Squaretop Mountain - 4196M. It was cloudy and about 40 degrees F on top, with some wind, and I was chilled by the time I packed up and headed down.

The next day I headed back up to the same alpine area, via a different trail, and started up to Argentine Peak, W0C/SR-019 - 4179M. After a mile of climbing in the thin air, I decided to stop and check my pack to make sure I had what I needed for the high ascent. I couldn’t find my wire antenna! It was simply not in the pack, and I had no idea where it was. There was nothing back at my car that I could use. I considered various ridiculous alternatives, but there was no good way to get a piece wire in time - with thunderstorms possible.

Gradually my oxygen-deprived brain remembered that I did not remember putting the wire spool back into the pack on Squaretop the previous day. I decided there was a possibility that I had left the wire up on that summit. If so, it might still be up there! It was also possible that even if I did leave the wire up there, another visitor might have seen the 52 feet of wire lying on the ground, and taken it down the mountain so it would not be a hazard to others. Perhaps 10 to 20 people a day climb Squaretop on nice summer days!

The one ray of hope was that I had not activated the actual summit, but had set up about fifty feet down the slope to escape some of the cold wind!

I decided my only chance was to climb back up Squaretop to see if I could find the missing wire. I might even have time to activate nearby Argentine! I looked up toward the summit of Squaretop standing 2000 vertical feet above me. The adrenaline kicked in, and I headed up the long trail toward the high saddle between the two incredibly high mountains. Before I knew it I was at 13,000 feet on the Continental Divide. I drank some water quickly and headed up the rocky northwest ridge of Squaretop - I had never climbed that route before, but it was less than a mile and only 800 vertical feet. If the wire was still there, I had to get it before some kind visitor coiled it up and put it in his or her pack!

Rarely have I climbed so fast at high altitude! I picked my way up through the rocks, and soon I was close to where I had been the day before on the enormous broad summit. The wire was nowhere to be seen. It was a black piece of number 24 teflon wire, and the mountain is black and gray granite and gneiss.

After a few minutes of bitter frustration, I found the empty plastic spool! I looked for the wire and couldn’t see it. Perhaps someone found it the previous day and took it down the trail. I widened my search just in case I was in the wrong spot - and suddenly I spotted the wire some distance from where I had been! I wrapped it up, and then noticed it was broken! In another precious minute I found the other part. An animal had chewed through it - probably a marmot!

I took my knife and spliced the wire!

I was out of there in no time. I hustled down the rocks, way down to the big saddle at 13,000 feet, and after a quick water break, started up the mile-long section of the Divide to Argentine Peak at 13,738 feet. I made amazing time and managed to set up and activate Argentine in full glory! Clouds were gathering, but the weather held amazingly.

After a great time on the air I packed up and headed along the east ridge toward Wilcox Mountain, W0C/PR-024, 4079 M. It had never been activated. If the clouds didn’t come together and create a storm, there was still time! Long story short, I made it all the way over to Wilcox, activated it, and headed down the long steep slopes, across the creek far below, and up the vast tundra to the trail, down, and back to the car way down the valley.

I remembered to pack the wire and have not forgotten it since…three 4000 M summits in one day.

That was a lucky day! I really enjoyed submitting that log!


George Carey Fuller


I drove 3 hours to get to a summit. Hiking to the top I found I had not packed my ANTENNA… THE. WHOLE. FRIGGIN. THING! I ALWAYS have hunks of wire on my sack… Tied some together, made a counterpoise and ended up with 15 contacts, 2 in Europe. It can happen. Loves me some HF, and CW where the simplest of set ups get all over the place.

Kent, K9EZ

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Hi Tom,
I see you use Wolphi’s DroidPSK - are you using an interface cable or just putting the phone to the speaker to decode and Mic. to send?

I also see you were lucky enought not to have bright sunshine or pouring rain - it seems I get one or the other when I try to activate on PSK with my phone making it impossible to either see the display or enter text on the screen!


Yes, I use the Wolphilink interface and cables. I have to use my old Galaxy S3 Mini phone for this purpose, as my newer HTC One Mini doesn’t seem to work. It doesn’t “hear” with the cable plugged in, only through it’s microphone with the cable disconnected. Presume the configuration of the pins is different in the headphone socket of the HTC.

There is a little video footage of the system in action on my website – click on ‘SOTA’ on the left, then select Stiperstones G/WB-003.

(direct link: sota - YouTube )

Thanks Tom,
I have the same interface - I tried making one from a design Wolphi sent me before he had somene build the complete interfaces. Needless to say my home made one didn’t work and the commercail one did.

As for headset socket pin-outs on some of the early (Android 2 time) phones different pinouts were used but I thought that all manufacturers had now standardised on the iPhone pinout, so that headsets can be used across phones.

If I remember correctly there is a resistor in the interface that can be changed to change the impedance shown to the phone when it doesn’t see the interface. There’s something in the instructions about this I think.


P.S. I see you use walking poles - do you find they help when walking with the heavy pack? I have taken mine onto a couple of summits but only ever used them to hold up the extensions to my vertical antenna.

Hell of a story - thank you!


That’s a really impressive effort! I’m amazed you did the backtrack for the antenna and then did the other big peaks. 4,000 m, they be big hills.


Years ago I used to scoff at walking poles, but I tried them when I reached my sixties and found that they were a really great help. Now I cannot imagine being without them, particularly when descending steeply with a heavy pack. I think it is fair to say that a pair of inexpensive poles have enabled me to continue enjoying the mountains at an age when I might have exchanged my boots for a pair of slippers!