It was a very welcome surprise to note the reemergence of Alan M1EYO in SOTA circles at the back end of 2010. Alan was instrumental in the development of the fledgling SOTA programme, as well as being the first G Association Manager and of course the first ever SOTA Mountain Goat. He had been away from SOTA for over four years, busy with senior responsibilities as a European Mountain Leader and on the British Mountaineering Council, as well as a long stretch as the UK’s top geocacher. When I got to work Alan on one of his recent activations, he advised that he was coming back to SOTA properly in 2011. With that, the eight activators above Alan in the G table, may consider that they have had notice served on their honour roll standings!
Alan was shortly in touch via email, as he had been reading about my school Foundation Licence course and wished to contribute some equipment. When he said he would be in the area at weekend to activate something, my thoughts turned immediately to a joint activation. It was soon agreed that Shining Tor G/SP-004 would be the perfect rendezvous.
This was also perfect for Richard G3CWI, who could now use me to deliver a selection of items from the SOTA Beams range to Alan. Yes, it definitely looks like Alan means business again - welcome back.
This was also to be a debut activation for Jimmy’s long-time school mate Edward M6NSR. Ed has long aspired to get involved with SOTA and join Jimmy on expeditions, and finally succeeded in the Foundation Licence examination just before Christmas. Ed is from a genuine radio amateur family, with dad Ray G0DMV, mum Emily 2E1AEQ and grandad Roy G1NUS, and I know they are all very proud of him for graduating into amateur radio.
We picked Ed up at 0905z after all the usual preparations at home. Upon arrival at the usual parking spot, I was parking my car behind Alan’s when a land rover pulled up with a familiar face. Simon M0TGT had decided to gatecrash the mass activation, and came out for the walk, along with children Joss and Lucy, both aspiring Foundation candidates - and dog Morgan (a girl, apparently). There’ll be more amateurs than not in Macc someday soon!
Although the air temperature was not that cold, the windchill was significant, the overall effect being bitterly cold. Padded gloves were on from the start of the walk, which was pleasant with gradually emerging views in improving sunshine. Alan and I chatted about all manner of topics on the ascent, which seemed to fly by. We had a few years’ worth on which to catch up!
On the summit, it was clear that we would all need to hunker down on the Derbyshire side of the wall to shelter from the wind and associated deathly chill. Simon set up a horizontal beam for 2m SSB, while Jimmy set his vertically polarised for FM. It looked like Alan was using a Miracle Whip, and making contacts on 2m and 70cm FM. After struggling with a rare tangle, I erected the 40m dipole as inverted-V.
As far as I can recall, Simon made four on 2m SSB, as did Jimmy on 2m FM, before handing the station over to Ed for his SOTA debut. Edward made 17 contacts, including his mum Emily 2E0AEQ, with Jimmy alongside to coach him through his first activation. Alan seemed to make ample contacts on 2m FM before switching to 70cm FM to free up 2m for Jimmy and Edward. I think he made just the one on 70cm, despite a spot and me assuring him that the spot would generate many more calls. Famous last words!
On 40m CW, I made up for the sluggish set-up by making 24 QSOs in half-an-hour. Eleven DXCCs worked were DL, EA, F, G, HA, HB, LA, OK, ON, PA and S5. I was bullied off my frequency by QRO contest stations a couple of times, but simply QSY’d a kilocycle or two and was soon found by the chasers again. Although it was a relatively early activation, we still carried a litre of hot soup, and this time it was Thai Green Curry soup. It was absolutely delicious, and most welcome on this cold summit.
The descent mirrored the ascent, in that it was a very relaxed amble based around social conversation. I pointed out to Simon that he was part of a historic moment. Not only was he jointly walking and activating with SOTA’s first ever Mountain Goat, but also alongside him on the slowest walk he had ever done!
The eight (if you include the dog) of us adjourned to the Cat & Fiddle. Jimmy and Edward stuck to their “no alcohol when there’s school the next day” formula in disciplined fashion, as did Simon with his “no alcohol when there’s a pile of work waiting in the office when I get home” policy. Along with Jos and Lucy, they all enjoyed their hot chocolates, tea and diet cokes, while Alan and I sunk a couple of decent pints each. Alan opted for the Hartley’s Cumbria Way, while I chose the Robbie’s Double Hop.
A very enjoyable group outing as it turned out. A big welcome to Edward M6NSR - and a big welcome back to Alan M1EYO.