Sgor Gaoith GM/ES-009 (Hill of the soggy radio)

I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to trust the tiny (tr)uSDX as the sole HF radio for this weekend’s attempt at activating Sgor Gaoith (GM/ES-009). To be fair, it had worked well on Ben Vorlich the other day despite the display being almost unreadable in daylight. On that activation, I had a QCX-mini in reserve just in case the SDX threw a wobbly.

This time, our walk started well. The weather was sunny, with a light breeze. We had great views of the valley and of the local gliding club being towed, one-by-one up into the skies. Once Dot and I reached the summit, I set up the EFHW for 40m, strung up and over a decathlon-special 6m pole in a sort-of inverted V affair. After chatting with some inquisitive onlookers for a few minutes and explaining to them what I was doing, I plugged in the tiny radio and sat down on one of the many flat rocks, ready to flex my CW muscles.

It was at that point that the skies decided to open and within about a minute, we were being absolutely battered by the rain. Thankfully I had a dry-bag for the radio kit so I tucked the little (tr)uSDX inside that leaving just the Morse key, earbuds and logbook exposed to the elements. After just 8 minutes of activating and 8 stations in the log, I decided to call it quits as water was running down the cables and into the radio bag. Given that the little radio is built inside a fairly primitive 3D-printed enclosure, I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t survive the drowning. I called QRT and pulled the power. Apologies to the stations that were still calling me…

I’d love to use this radio for another activation as it’s so incredibly light and efficient BUT the weather-proofing situation will need to be re-thought if it’s to make another appearance on the hills.


love your photo Ronan, great report with photos, Thanks. :smiley:

Geoff vk3sq

[quote=“MM0IVR, post:1, topic:30430”]
… the weather-proofing situation will need to be re-thought
Even with something as reasonably robust as an 817, I rarely bring the rig out of my backpack, even though it’s encased in a plastic box. Too many soakings on Scottish hills. I do try to run the leads downwards from the rig, but wet hands usually prove to be the biggest challenge.

Well done on the ultra lightweight activation. Looks like a hill I need to consider. :grinning:

73, Gerald

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It’s a brilliant hill and easy for 10 points in Scotland. There’s a good car park and excellent paths to minimise damage to the slopes. The final bimble over about 2km of almost flat and featureless tundra is wonderful. You can easily picture how difficult navigation could be up here in poor visibility. The great thing as there’s nothing to judge distance you think “ah nearly there” but there’s still over a km to walk! Then you get to the top and the cairn is right on the edge of the 500m drop into Loch Eanaich. It’s 8km and 820m ascent but it’s never difficult or steep. It’s just a reasonably constant climb and on the long climb parallel to the Allt Fhearnagan it’s about 150m/km.

Braeriach GM/ES-002 looks magnificent across the valley. Well recommended but make sure you pick good WX. I did it one August and it snowed :slight_smile:


Yep, surprisingly easy for a 10-pointer. We had views down the valley to the loch just before the rain arrived - pretty impressive stuff! Great views of the gliders from the local club being towed up into oblivion too. It would have been a good summit to spend a bit of time on.

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I usually parked at NH852013 then followed the tracks and the short, steep, ascent onto Meall Tionail and over Meall Buidhe where Ptarmigan were a common sight. Descent via Andy’s route and back along the road. Cracking views on a good day including the regular sighting of Golden Eagles


With the Trans-Atlantic S2S party coming up, I am still looking for a suitable summit with a decent take off towards the States, preferably with plenty of points on offer While the track is attractive for a descent in the dark, the top section is less so. Maybe one for the event next April when daylight is available. :grinning:

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It’s really not a problem. It’s a case of following the ascent path to the top then sharp left to the summit along a broad ridge with a path all the way. It is 1 km max.

However, what may put you off (for the S2S event) is the complete lack of shelter at the top. There isn’t even a cairn, the top being right on the edge of the precipice overlooking Loch Eanaich. I got caught in a rainstorm last September and would have been at risk of hypothermia had I proceeded with my activation, had I not climbed into my bothy bag.

On a clear day, there’s no better view in the Cairngorms.


What’s with all the golden eagles I read about? 20-odd years of living & hiking in the UK in the 80’s and 90’s and I never saw one!

Are they really making a comeback? Great news if so. Or was I blind?!

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The shelter issue is not such a problem as staying on the summit for 4 or more hours makes some form of shelter necessary. The precipice is another matter entirely for obvious reasons. April certainly looks to be the safer option!

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When I was coming down off of Bynack More on my recent multi day effort, I saw a Golden Eagle gliding in the glen below me. It caught an updraught and was 50 metres above me in an instant. An hour later I heard the fledglings screeching in a cliff top nest. I’m out on the hills most weeks and that’s the first I’ve seen for a year IIRC.

Closer to home I stumbled into a White Tailed Eagle looking for a mountain hare in some peat hags. First one of those I’ve seen in nine years. They are more common on the west coast islands (aka Sea Eagle) but there has been a successful breeding programme and they are becoming more wideapread.

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More chance of snow in April. In recent years we’ve experienced winter v2.0 in April! I’d save it for long days and warm weather as the view needs to be seen.


When activating in quite a few areas south of the Glasgow - Edinburgh belt, I’ve seen Goldies on several occasions and at fairly close quarters. Granted these have been mainly juveniles, but their very existence so far south shows there must be reasonable breeding success.


Indeed. I’ve seen more eagles, both sea and golden, in the past few years than ever before. They pale into insignificance when compared to the classy wildlife round these parts; You’ve not seen anything until you’ve witnessed a heron extracting a live rat from a ditch on the Dalmeny estate and despatching it very ungracefully by the roadside. 🫤


That’s a proper hard Scottish bird. :slight_smile: