Activation report from qualifying the following three high SOTA summits in Snowdonia:
- Yr Aran GW/NW-019
- Snowdon GW/NW-001
- Y Lliwedd GW/NW-008
- Ben @GW4BML/p
- Elecraft KX2 pushing 5w
- External MH1 mic
- 3m RG174 coax
- 40/20m EFHW antenna
- 6m Carbon pole mast
What a great day had on Saturday 10th February - I was asked to organise a fairly tough route by the brother-in-laws, a fairly tough route??? They asked the right person, so I took them on a full day out in the hills, hahaa.
The wx forecast had changed over a hand full of times over the week. From pouring rain, to heavy snow, to frost and ice…… I checked it the night before and it had changed to beautiful sun all day with a maximum wind chill on top of -7 degrees - where does this info come from!
We parked up to start the Watkins path, opened the truck door thinking it was going to be cold…. but no, the temperature was pretty warm, happy days. We started our day out at 07:30z heading for our first culprit, Yr Aran GW/NW-019.
On route we passed some lovely scenery, the stream was as clear as daylight, it was tempting to call back for a swim on the way down!
The big pull then hit us pretty fast. We all stayed together as a group having a good laugh every step we took. It didn’t take long until we were walking the ridge line with a slight breeze blowing, cooling us down. It was that still, you could hear a pin drop!
Following the stone wall for a few hundred metres, and then taking a slight left at the summit col to reach the top - what a fantastic view we had! You could see the tip of snowdon from the bottom all the way to the top - no mist or low cloud whatsoever. This doesn’t happen very often in snowdonia, believe me.
The lads made a cuppa and had breakfast, while I quickly set up shop in the sun. I put a call out on 5-CW, 7-SSB and finished on 145-FM working a total of 43 stations. The bands were working really well and we had the summit to ourselves - good times! After putting final calls out, I packed up and returned to the group for a snack.
We could see the next target shining in the sun, the peak was standing so high, Wales and Englands highest, Snowdon GW/NW-001. We descended Yr Aran steadily, the stones and rocks were still pretty slippy on the north side, having had no sun all morning. Once we reached the col before the long pull, we had a drink making the most of the view. You couldn’t have booked better wx than this!! A few big breathes were taken and off we trotted.
The first part is pretty steep which gets you up onto the ridge. The next 2 miles are just gradually climbing up, up and away. Snowdon trig, which stands out like a soar thumb in good wx, was getting larger and larger as we kept plodding on. We were getting closer, yay!!
After a few breaks had, we were soon passing the shutdown cafe on the top - woohooo! We approached the summit where there was hundreds of people just walking around, loads queuing to touch the trig, so we had a summit selfie and then tried to find a quiet spot, which wasn’t really quiet, but it had to do.
Tom, one of my brother-in-laws, got the stove out and began to cook sausages, the others had a lie in the sun, while I tried to get 20m of wire in some kind of configuration to work some stations - this really was a mission! After the wire all flapping about, and the KX2 tuner working well, I managed to work 5-CW, 7-SSB and 145-FM. Unfortunately there was serious QRM and a contest on 40m, nevertheless, I made a total of 13 contacts. Not my normal kind of activation, so apologies to everyone who tried to get me. After the 15th person that came up to me asking if I was fishing, it was time to pack up and make a move quite rapidly. Onwards and upwards as they say
Two down, one more to go. Just so everyone knows… today was all about my good friend Tom, and my brother-in-law. He wanted to complete this route whatever, so I was determined to deliver this to him. No rushing, stop for breaks when we need to, and take it steady!
We headed down the Watkins path for our last summit, Y Lliwedd GW/NW-008. The start of the descent path has seriously worn away with the bad rain, wind and snow we’ve had. This was a mission getting past it, but we all managed. After a good 300m, the path starts to get much better underfoot, so this made things easier.
Once we reached the col, a decision had to be made…. is everyone going to summit Y Lliwedd, or is it back to the car…… we all agreed, let’s do it! Woohooo. It was a fair bit of scrambling to the top, but the 5 of us made it with no issues at all, what a good feeling!
Again, the lads had a drink and snack on top while I played radio. The same band and modes were used, 5-CW, 7-SSB & 145-FM. O, I actually made time for a quick call out on 28-SSB, and to my surprise worked two stations from North America and two from South Africa, result!! In the end I finished on a total of 45 contacts - great end to the day with the sun beating down on me!
It was a chilled scramble back down to the Watkins path, and a steady descent to the trucks! What a cracking day had out on the high mountains of Wales - I think everyone had a fab time looking at the smiles on faces
I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone from the SOTA community who called into me on this adventure - the support was amazing! Thanks to both S2S contacts I made, who were Kevin @MW0KXN/p who was on Waun Fach GW/SW-002 and @G5AIB/p who was on Little Mell Fell G/LD-037 - it was great to work you both!
Until next time, 73, Ben GW4BML