On a day when one weather forecasting app was forecasting summit winds of 45 mph and another was talking of driven snow and gusts that would lift you off your feet, I canned my plans for Hunt Hill.
I still needed some exercise though, so decided on my local lump - Morven GM/ES-018 (872 m). Mo would drop me in Ballater on her way to work ad I’d walk back home over the hill, using a “new” route. The strong SW would push me along. I can survive Morven in about any weather. Sometimes the summit can be wild, but once on the eastern slopes, it is usually calm. Morven was my lockdown hill and I’ve climbed it many times, from all directions. I’ve activated it twice and one of those was this year.
I managed to find a new way up on the map. It starts on a track that leads off the Pass of Ballater road. No parking at the end of the track, but there is some a little further along the road. It’s shown in orange below, coming from the south. All of the other ways I’ve walked or biked over Morven are in blue.
Leaving the warmth of the car at 0900, I headed off through woodland on a gently rising Land Rover track. All was calm. Soon I was out on the moor, still heading up on an easy grade, but with the wind picking up a little. The views opened up.
leaving the trees behind
A pair of Red Kites soared effortlessly above. Further along the track a solitary kite tracked me as I walked up the track. It hovered perfectly above me, perpendicular to the track, drifting upwards as I climbed.
Just after a T-junction with a track that runs west to east along the shoulder of Morven, I turned up an earthy ATV track which eventually led to steeper slopes and the summit. A few patches of this weeks snow, the first of winter, remained.
It was 1100. I’d brought my handheld, a short mast and a slim-G. I’d alerted and posted on WhatsApp. To be honest, the radio was just for fun as this was a “pointless” one for me. I was so casual in my packing that I’d neglected to bring anything to support the mast. Thankfully Morven has a solitary fence post at the summit, complete with rusty fence wire still attached. A loop of this wire did the job. Oh, the wind wasn’t too bad - a steady 30 mph, but windchill felt like minus ten.
casual summit set up
Simon @GM4JXP came straight back to me and we had a brief chat. Then nothing. For ages. I thought that may be my sole contact but kept calling for a bit. I then moved to 145.550 MHz and re-spotted, as some Aberdeen hams listen here when they are at home or mobile. Kit GM4EXP/m was just heading home to Peterculter in his car and answered. Satellite Guru Peter 2M0SQL responded (from Elgin way) and then messaged his mate Charlie GM1TGY, who I’ve been after for ages. He’s recently retired, so we managed our first QSO. Four contacts. Felt good, although no points. Still, no calls came from Aberdeen. Getting cold, so I turned the radio off, had a banana and then packed up. I was walking about to warm up when I spotted Morvens resident Ptarmigans, already in their white winter plumage, despite the lack of snow.
terrible Ptarmigan picture - there were three more birds just below these two
As I set off down the hill, I turned the radio back on, not because I was expecting to hear anyone, but just to make sure my APRS digi-peater at home was picking me up. @MM0RFN and GM0NRT were having a conversation - about me! They knew I was up Morven and Hibby had heard me call QRT. I managed to break in and worked them both while just 50 m from the summit and using just the whip. They were both in Aberdeen, some 40 miles east of me. Happy Days.
Atmospheric conditions at the top
As I set off again, biting hail blew across from the SW, thankfully hitting the side and back of me. As predicted the wind eased as I dropped onto the eastern slopes. A steep descent lead to the tarred road and I was back home an hour and a bit after leaving the summit and four hours and a bit after setting off from the car.
It was a day for hot home made soup and that is exactly what I had when I got home!
73, Fraser MM0EFI