My interest in Winter Bonus collecting is just as strong as it ever was, even though I have been doing SOTA for 15 years.
I’m aware that time is running out quickly, the bonus stops soon and I still haven’t ticked off all my winter favourites. One of my favourites, especially as it’s worth 10 points, is Helvellyn. I do the school run each week day so I wasn’t able to set off from home until 9am, but I’m a bit nearer to the Lake District at my new QTH, so I was able to squeeze in a trip to G/LD-003 yesterday, my only free day.
I was not exactly thrilled by the WX forecast, but I concluded that it was workable. Wind is the most important factor for me (besides electrical storms!), and I deemed that I would be OK. The WX forecast predicted frequent precipitation including snow at summit level.
Parking was once again free at Swirls car park, the parking machine is still covered up and the parking fee is still suspended for now.
There were a few other walkers on the fell but not many, to be expected, given the weather. It took me just under 2 hours to reach the summit. I quickly attempted to deploy my 3 band HF dipole but as I was erecting the pole, a section of the pole split. I managed to get the antenna up about 2m before retreating into the bothy bag. Several CQs on 20m produced no RBN hits, so I gave up and resorted to my FT60 handheld, taken along as insurance in case the weather was too bad for anything but a ‘four and run’. Remaining inside the bothy, I was able to quickly make 5 QSOs on 145MHz FM using the 1/4wave set top antenna. The bothy bag causing the antenna to be used in an inverted L configuration.
I ate lunch, video called my wife, and packed up everything I could before emerging from the bothy bag. When I emerged, I noticed my dipole laying in the snow, I suspect it had been there during my CQs.
In conclusion, I’m glad that I took the handheld, and I wasn’t ashamed to use it to gain the points, the points were hard won. My pole has provided good service for over a decade, it was overdue being replaced. I enjoyed my day despite the difficulties.
Helvellyn Summit 7/MAR/2019 1319utc
SOTApole ready for retirement! Top section snapped a couple of weeks ago.
Base cap is mostly hot melt glue and Persil dispenser! Note old repair to pole section (middle pole) using super glue some years ago.
Broken section, split at the top, causing my problem yesterday.
Top bung made from EVA foam rolled up with double sided tape- it worked well!