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.