I was last out activating at the beginning of December. Then we had loads and load of pish weather, huge amounts of rain and more rain. With Christmas etc. I was short of time. The WX over the Christmas break was even worse. Then came January and I now only work 2 days a week, surely I can get out now. No we had more wet then snowy weather. We also had a customer at work who wanted “The moon on a stick” and so I’ve been doing some overtime (I’m getting more time off in lieu). So no SOTA for Andy.
Last Friday was a peach of a day… no wind, below 0C but blue sky, ice and snow on the hills but roads OK. And I couldn’t get out to play So as the WX looked fair to miserable for today I was determined to get out. Well when I finally woke up and got out of bed that was.
YASLA (yet another Scald Law activation). Well if I’m not going somewhere special I may as well do something. It took a while to make sure I’d collected everything and bagged it. I Shanghaied Mrs. FMF to help me check . Gosh, she’s worth it as she said “battery?” as the last thing. No, I didn’t have a battery and went and grabbed one. OK parked up, spaces but people out walking. It was grey and cool and windy. 4C at the car park and the wind had a real bite to it. I was going to grab the Grivel instep crampons but forgot. The first part of the track had about 1-2cm of thawed grass/mud but below that was frozen. Nothing tricky TBH. I’ve done the initial steep bit and really needed crampon but just managed to get up and down. No problems today.
The main ascent from the col with Carnethy Hill was not good. You could see how thousands of boots had polished the snow to ice. Still it wasn’t too hard to get up. I was pleased with the time. Considering it was icy and progress was slowed by routing past the worst bits and chatting to a few people I got to the trig in 50mins. Now I tried to eat all the Turkey, Ham and Christmas Pudding in the UK this Christmas (we wont mention drink) so that time was really good. I think my record is 41mins.
At the top the wind was a killer. I found somewhere a bit sheltered and setup. I knew it would be windy so I brought the heavier Lifes-a-Breeze 5m pole as it’s pretty bad-ass at resisting wind. It wasn’t a day to change antennas so up went the 40/30/20 trapped EFHW with an AA5TB matchbox. This has switch able 3/4 turn primary and switchable 24/28 turn secondary. The antenna was a 5m vertical with sloper down to 1m point SE. Tune up was painless on all the bands I tried, 817 SWR meter could be got down to showing nothing.
SOTAwatch showed people on 10m including EA8/M0EFI. Well 10m SSB worked for some QSOs but Fraser was inaudible. ODX on 10m SSB was SV2OXS. Then 15m, again no EA/M0EFI heard, on to CW and lots of SOTA chasers OE, DL, SV, S5, SM, EA, OH, and KF9D (@KF9D) in Illinois. He was the only stateside station I heard. After that 20m CW brought in DL, ON, HB9, LA.
I was QRV for 55mins as the mist came down. It went from cold in the wind to stupidly cold in the mist and wind. I have not been this cold for a long time. If it was 4C at the car and I climbed 300m then it was about 1C at the top but well below 0C with the windchill. The mist was getting thicker and the wind stronger so I pulled the station down, packed up and descended the way I came up. Which was “interesting” Talking to another walker we both concurred that the surface which had been wet snow and soft ice along with wet grass was freezing up. It was much slippier coming down. So whilst there was another hour’s light, I made the right decision to stop when I did. Especially with nothing spikey for my boots. Back to the car and the Red Bull clone in the boot was nice and cold and refreshing.
I was still cold when I got home and that was with a heated seat and steering wheel. In the shower for 20mins to warm and blow the cost!. But by heck it was good to be out after 7 weeks even on a hill I can now climb blindfold. Hey, I got points this time
SM5LNE, SA4BLM, EA2DT, OH3GZ all worked so only noticeable absence was Eric F5JKK. I must do more tests with this antenna as I think it’s quite directional when rigged this way on the higher bands.