With significant snowfall in downtown Macclesfield during the Saturday late afternoon and evening, I decided a walk up Shining Tor G/SP-004 would be good. I got up just before 7am on Sunday 17th January 2016 and made a flask of coffee.
I checked the CatCam on http://www.maccinfo.com which from time to time showed car headlights, and other websites confirmed that the A537 was “passable with care”. I drove up to the normal parking space just before the Cat & Fiddle. However, before parking, I turned my car around so it was facing the right way for going home later, and, importantly, downslope, just in case!
I was the first walker on the paths, so there were several deep snowdrifts to get through, which absorbed some time and energy. Once through the top gate, the traverse across the dip ahead of the summit itself was surprisingly easy going. I was surprised to met a man and a woman with their daughter (about 8 years old) coming the other way, as the snow was fresh, and the only previous footprints were those of grouse. “Where did you start from?” I enquired. “Shining Tor” they replied, and it transpired they had overnighted there. Great stuff.
It was useful at the summit to have a deep drift to support my pole, as the ground was hard and not taking pegs. As it was, all that was required was the snow to push the pegs into to spread out the radials.
No conditions on 10m, and just three local G stations worked on 10m CW. I think all of them have been worked before in the SOTA Challenge periods too, so I won’t have added to my score. Using the same (10m/6m vertical) aerial, I did a bit on 2m FM and added 8 QSOs. Pleasant.
Pen Y Ghent and Fountains Fell had been my target, but I thought the roads would be icy. I elected to set off later from home and switched to Buckden Pike instead. I squeezed in a quick trip up Sharp Haw G/NP-029 on my way home and just got back to the car as it started snowing and the light was fading fast.
Nothing better than being out in the snow (with good clothes etc!). Pendle hill was so popular yesterday the paths had been smoothed into ice rinks (especially by all the kids on plastic sledges). I wished I’d had crampons, though that would have looked strange alongside the trainers and wellies some were wearing.
Some fresh powder fell on the hills in southern Poland in the last few days.
Activated SP/BZ-080 Wierzbanowska Góra yesterday, walking in ankle-deep snow. Due to QRM from the HA DX contest made only 7 contacts on 20m, but the walk was very nice, so overall very satisfying first activation of 2016.
Wierzbanowska Góra is a wooded summit, but there are two clearings within the activation zone, one of them with an old hut:
From the descent path there are nice views to other SP/BZ summits, here Lubogoszcz SP/BZ-039, with Luboń Wielki SP/BZ-031 hardly visible to the right behind it:
And here 3 other SOTA summits, from the left: Łopień SP/BZ-041, Śnieżnica SP/BZ-034 and Ćwilin SP/BZ-024:
Finally, don’t forget avalanche hazard. Use ground conditions reports and learn the basics about safe travel in avalanche terrain… which can be in some unexpected places… largest number of deaths in the UK in a single avalanche… off the South Downs onto the town of Lewes
If the conditions are such that crampons are necessary then some instruction in their use is also necessary. Winter climbing on snow is a game needing more skill than you need in summer - avalanches can happen on surprisingly low angle slopes, and it is fatally easy to lose control of a slip. On the other hand, the mountains under snow offer an exhilaration that is hard to beat!