Meall Alvie GM/ES-055 - err, snow wasn't forecast!

6th February 2024
Continuing my QRP adventures, I went up Meall Alvie for the third time, mainly to take advantage of the sheltered summit, as fairly high winds were forecast. Route up was the same as before, starting in the Invercauld Estate car park off the A93 just before Braemar. The car park fee is now £3.50 for the day (up from £3).
The initial track up is basically a stream, particularly after the recent heavy rains.

About 1/3 of the way up, it started to blow snowgrains, but just in short passing showers. After the track ends, you basically have to head uphill through the trees and heather.
I took a couple of orientation pics looking back down, with the intention of using them (if needed) as a guide on the way back. I normally head for the hills on the other side of the valley that can be seen through a gap in the trees, viz

The summit was reasonably sheltered from the increasing wind, so I had a snug enough operating position. The 10m moxon and Sotabeams dipole went up and stayed up OK as well.

KX3, 10m Moxon, Sotabeams 40/20m linked dipole, 2m slim J + Quasheng

Moxon with mast retracted later in the day - I added some guys to try and stop it rotating too much in the wind.

20m was in good shape. 47 itl, 5 S2S, best DX VE2JCW
10m was rather slow. Starting at 1234, after a few EU chasers, it wasn’t until 1318 that the first US chaser called in - N2BTD. There were good sigs from Spain,Italy and EU Russia but I couldn’t hear any of the activators in Germany or Austria. VU2XO was strong, beaming short path to USA. Around 1330, KF9D called but just then a really strong squall hit the moxon and flipped the driven element over to the same side as the reflector. Happily, the KX3 ATU managed to cope with this interesting new antenna configuration and I finished the QSO OK and was back on freq in about 5 mins with the moxon a bit lower. I got 5 more US chasers and one more from Spain and last in the log was VE9SRC/W4, activating a POTA.
2m FM - Fraser MM0EFI/P was by then hunkered down on top of Oxen Craig and I had put up my Slim J. I could hear him just fine but sadly he couldn’t hear me - good job neither of us needed the QSO for a Complete.
The snowgrain showers had by now turned to proper (unforecasted) snow, so I packed up and headed down. Unfortunately I was now unable to see the guide gap in the trees, let alone the hills on the other side of the valley, so I meandered downhill, taking a rather different route than on the way up and checking Google Maps regularly - good signal here btw. By the time I got back on the path the snow had died away, leaving just the wind. 59 itl for the day.


Hi Simon,
that sounds a bit challenging !
I listened for you from the back of the carpark at work in Edinburgh. Couldn’t hear you on 20m, just your chasers, must have been in the skip zone. Tried to wait for Fraser as well, but lunch break ended.

Hi Andy,

The 20m skip zone seems to end around the Midlands. South of that, signals were generally 59 - London, Cornwall, Devon etc. Thanks for listening anyway,

Your pictures remind me that Meall Alvie is a real gem of a summit. It’s just so nice climbing up through the wide spaced trees in the woods to the summit. The colours and views make it worth much more than the 2 (or 5) pts you get for activating it.

As for the 20m skip, I can remember when in Shetland that most of the South Coast of the UK was workable as it’s 1000+ km from up there at 60deg North. Your skip from Deeside to the Midlands is about 600km and the books suggest 700km as minimum. So there was probably a bit of SpE helping shorten the distances worked.

I really must do Meall Alvie again next time I have the chance.

Nice activation Simon!

It wasn’t for me, just a couple of hours later. Went very short. Funny old thing, propogation.

Or how about Creag Ghiubhais GM/ES-067? It has a wooded summit. The climb is less savoury though…

Barry will now have to go and sit in a quiet and darkened room after just thinking about that summit!


Haha I think you are being deliberately provocative. I will not be going back to that pimple.


To be fair, you tried to climb it with a dx commander strapped to your back, amongst other things.

Every time I drive past it, it draws me in. I feel I must reactivate it, along with its twin Creag nam Ban, which is an unactivated HEMA summit.

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Today on 20m I worked GW0PLP (59/55) in IO72rc from Craiglich IO87od - 572Km and M7DWE/M (59/59) in IO90 -713km

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I saw your spot for 40m today, which would have allowed a chase from Edinburgh but sadly I was not able to chase today.
Hope to get out at the weekend but it will be very weather dependent.

It was probably the hardest one pointer I ever had the misfortune to climb - and don’t mention the ants’ nests
Correction: 2 points :cry:

Now off for a brain transplant - I have confused this with ES-067 which is, in fact, the worst one pointer in ES region. ES-055 is a doddle in comparison!!!

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No, I think you are Ok Barry. Fraser set the hare running by bringing up 067 and I agree with you - 055 is a doddle in comparison.


That looks like a great activation, with lots of QSO’s. Good work!

I’ve always wanted to try a Moxon antenna myself, but they look very ungainly to carry and mount. Is it a heavy piece of kit?

Hi Kjetil, the whole thing weighs 1.4Kg and packs easily into a suitcase - I took it to Croatia last year. The design is based on that shown by MM0OPX on his Youtube channel. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble, including the mast. Hose clamps are required on the mast joints (its a Sotabeams 7000hds) to prevent sudden collapse. This activation was the first time I’ve used it in very windy conditions and it is obviously susceptible to flipping, due to the flexibility of the spreaders. I plan to experiment with adding some storm guys to prevent that, or otherwise just use it on calmer days.


Thanks for the detailed reply :blush: would be fun to try one of those one time.

Great to work you on 10m Simon. 10m has been in great shape and with that setup you should have no problem working many stations stateside. Hope to try for you on your next adventure as long as work doesn’t get in the way.

Brian N2BTD

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