SOTA NEWS SEPTEMBER 2011
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the September 2011 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Andy MM0FMF, Fred K6DGW, Martin DF3MC, Colin M0CGH, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Colin MM6YCJ, Hans PA0HRM, Mark G0VOF.
SOTA AWARDS AUGUST 2011 – Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
This month I am not going to save the blushes of our newsletter editor! G4SSH, Roy, has reached the amazing total of 50000 Chaser points. This achievement was not even considered feasible when SOTA was first conceived and yet, after less than ten years, this amazing total has been met. Roy is not alone, S51ZG and DL1FU are breathing down his neck with 44000 points and there are others in the chase as well. Will it be another ten years to reach 100k or will this be met in a much shorter timescale – and who will do it?
Other notable achievements this month include S52TC achieving Mountain Goat and N4EX becoming the first US based Shack Sloth. There has been quite a demand for the newer awards – Mountain Explorer and Mountain Hunter – probably brought about by Andy MM0FMF, our database manager, introducing filters which highlight what awards an individual can claim.
Many claimants for the Mountain Explorer are on mainland Europe where travel between different Associations is much easier than for UK or American based participants; hopefully with the vacation season in full swing others will have taken advantage of their permission to activate in other countries and will show up soon in the award tables. The higher levels of Mountain Hunter need inter-continental contacts and with the increasing numbers of Associations coming into the scheme, and the sun starting to play again, claims for Silver and above will become more common. Congratulations to Rich N4EX on his Gold Award and Martyn, M1MAJ, for his Silver Award (incidentally, certificate 01).
S52TC Marijan Oman - Mountain Goat
N4EX Rich Homolya - Shack Sloth
2E0EDX Ian Taylor 500 points
OK7OK Darius Rouhani 250 points
OE6PID Peter Schantl 100 points
OE6BID Barbara Schantl 100 points
G4SSH Roy Clayton 50000 points
DL1FU Friedrich Winzer 40000 points
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun 2500 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 1000 points
MU0GSY Lionel Roithmeir 500 points
M0XRS Christopher Rowan 500 points
G0WGL Peter Furness 100 points
OK7OK Darius Rouhani 100 points
G4WSX John Fogden 2500 summits
DL4FDM Fritz Zwingli - Mountain Explorer Bronze
SV2KGA Adamos Sarailidis - Mountain Explorer Bronze
HA7AT Lajos Ruszo - Mountain Explorer Bronze
N4EX Rich Homolya - Mountain Hunter Gold
M1MAJ Martyn Johnson - Mountain Hunter Silver
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun - Mountain Hunter Bronze
SV2KGA Adamos Sarailidis - Mountain Hunter Bronze
ON6NA Paul Dhaese - Mountain Hunter Bronze
Mountain Hunter (VHF and up)
MW6BDV Barry Vile - Mountain Hunter (V) Bronze
Now a reminder about increases in the cost of Awards: prices will increase on 1 September to £3.50 for certificates in the UK and mainland Europe (£3.75 Paypal) and £4.50 for DX (£4.75 Paypal) while trophies will increase to £30 in the UK (£32 Paypal), £32 in Europe (£34 Paypal) and £33 for DX (£35 Paypal).
Following on from the quite startling performance of many Chasers, resulting in contact points well beyond the expectations of the founders of SOTA, is it time to review the Awards scheme? The scheme as configured at present offers a real challenge to Activators and demands a lot of commitment to achieve the trophy award of Mountain Goat; can the same be said for the Shack Sloth? This is not to devalue the effort required to chase consistently and there is no plan, nor desire, to require more effort for a trophy to be awarded. What is your opinion?
The MT would like to know if there is any demand for other achievement levels that can be rewarded by trophies, whether Chaser or Activator; should we look at a “Super Sloth” or a “Heidhrun” (Google it) Award? I have asked in the past for input on awards but have received little comment, if you have an opinion contact me directly and I will see if we can come up with something that offers a real, but different, challenge to those who would like to reach even higher goals.
Meanwhile, the weather up here has, shall we say, been less than seasonable and I am in great danger of rusting! It seems that when the sun is shining (or at least the rain has abated and the wind is no more than Storm Force) I have to look after the emporium and when I can get away the rain gods have alternative plans. My waistline bears testament to this and the xyl has now dictated that I will go out regardless even if only to give the dog a decent walk. Hopefully this means that I can once again get into the hills and stop the “it’s a long time since we worked” comments that seem to preceed every qso at the moment!
Take care on the hills
Barry Horning GM4TOE
Further Congratulations to:-
Dave M3XIE on reaching 2000 chaser points on 2nd August with a contact from Vicky M6BWA on G/WB-015.
Roddy 2MØIOB for achieving his Shack Sloth status on 13th August.
DATABASE NEWS - from Andy MM0FMF
In August we added 1568 new summits to the W0 association and 43 new
summits to the DL association. The DL association has been running for
some time and it was good to be able to expand an existing assoication.
Quite a few of these new summits have already been activated both in W0
Unfortunately, there are still some errors in the Italian database. The
erroneous swapping of I/AA-301 and I/TN-301 has been resolved. Both of
these summit references have been deleted and the summits renumbered.
Piz Boe is now I/AA-341 and Monte Roen is I/TN-342. All chaser and
activator logs referring to either of the old references have been
update magically. The LG region is more complex but will be repaired
over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, you should use the references listed in the SOTA
database and no other. Should the reference be modified then all chaser
and activator logs will be modified at the same time and you will not
have to amend your logs. This maintains the consistency of the logs.
If you hear an activation taking place and you cannot find the reference
number in the database then the activation is not valid for SOTA. By all
means have a QSO and enjoy the contact but you will not be able claim
points for the summit.
If you have any Italian summit activations or chases that you cannot get
the database to accept then email me (mm0fmf_sota AT intermoose.com) for
help. Similarly, email me if you have any other problems or questions
about the database
NEWS FROM SOTA-DL - Martin DF3MC
Our new Association Reference Manual (ARM V2.1) is available on the SOTA
There are 45 new summits valid from Aug. 1st, which is an increase of about 11%. Altogether 442 summits were referenced. Some of the new summits have already been activated in August.
DL6UNF - OM Frank was the first to reach the GERMAN ALPS EXPLORER AWARD/ Chaser. For this award contacts with 54 different summits in all 9 regions of SOTA-DL must be logged. (Details on the SOTA-DL Website)
This award is not easy to reach, as some regions are activated only rarely.
Congratulations to OM Frank!
Who is the next to apply for this ambitious award?
VY 73 - Martin, DF3MC
A MESSAGE FROM HOLLAND By Hans PA0HRM
The low country activators and chasers have been very active during the past few months.
Three chasers managed to reach to 10,000 points mark: PA0WDG, Wim is leading the Dutch Honour Roll of Chasers with over 12.000 points, PA0HRM, Hans and PA3CWG, Ronald running up both with more than 10.000 chaers points. PA3FYG, Hans managed to reach 100 plus summits and is now leading the Dutch Activator Honour Roll with 123 activated summits in more than 10 countries, all SSB! Well done, Hans.
Dutch activators went abroad to countries like Germany, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and others, combining hill climbing with the radio hobby. But the Mont Blanc is still waiting for the first Dutch climber/activator!
CANADA-US SOTA NEWS - By Fred K6DGW
When I volunteered for the job of Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude about a
year ago [yes, I did volunteer], I could pretty much count the number of
activators on the fingers of one hand. I expected it to grow some,
maybe double or close to that in another 18-24 months. It seems now, at
the end of August 2011, that I was just a tiny bit off on my projections!
In the 11 currently registered Associations in North America, the Roll
of Honour shows a total of 15 Canadian and 114 US summiteers. Since
call areas no longer have much meaning in the US, there are a few
duplicates where one station activated summits in more than one
association, but the number is still staggering.
The sheer increase in interest of “Taking Radio to New Heights,” just by
itself is quite amazing. Like the UK and other European hotbeds of
SOTA, we have our “usual suspects” who dominate the top of the Roll …
VA2SG, W1DMH, KT5X, WS0TA, KD9KC, N1FJ, N7UN, K4QS, and a few others.
However, we also have a huge crop of new stations who have just recently
caught the SOTA virus.
The most active associations roughly reflect the topography of the New
World a bit, VE2, W1, W2, W5, W6, and W7 are the most active … they
have a lot of mountains, and some of the most challenging ones too.
This explosive growth, while exceedingly heartening, has created a
serious problem for the Reporter Dude … keeping track of the
activations for this report each month. For August, and the last part
of July that missed the deadline last month, I have the following
activations that I can identify with a date, summit, and operator(s),
and close to half again that many that I know or think happened but for
which I have no report or just an email that tells me, “we were there.”
So, trying to catch up and get current, here’s the list from the
Provinces, Colonies, and Wild West:
DATE SUMMIT OPS
6/25 W4/WM-001 KK4BYX
7/5 W4/RA-001 K4QS N4WDC NX4Q
?? W0/FR-082 K0MOS
7/20 W7/FR-059 WR5J
7/24 W5/OT-005 NM5S KT5X
W6/CC-001 KI6WJP+Kim & Copper[poodle]
7/30 W1/MB-001 W1PNS N1FJ
W7/CM-033 KI6WJP+Emmor & Christine & Blue[dog]
8/2 W1/CR-009 N1FJ WN1E KK1W
8/6 W0/PR-012 K0MOS
VE2/OU-014 VA2SIE VE3EMB VA2EPR
8/7 W7/NO-031 K7NEW
8/8 W0/RG-002 KT5X
W0/SJ-001 KT5X N7UN[N0B] WG0AT
8/10 W7/NO-035 K7NEW
?? W7/CC-001 NH6Z
8/11 W1/GM-221 KK1W N1FJ WN1E
8/12 W5/PW-012 KT5X NM5S
8/13 VE2/LR-004 VE2WFF ? gave no call]
8/15 W5/MG-001 KE5AKL
8/16 W5/OR-013 KD9KC
8/18 W1/MB-015 KK1W WN1E
8/20 W5/OR-17 KD9KC WT5RZ N5NHC W5JG KC7VHS AE5XI N6RHH
8/21 W7/SR-039 KF7DDT
8/24 W0/FR-057 K0MOS
Whew! I know I probably missed a few, I apologize. To activators –
please summarize your reports, either in the subject line if it fits or
at the head of your message. Date, Summit ID, Call, Operator[s], and
who you are if you didn’t use your own call. That will help some.
NA NEWS: Andrew, KD5ZZK, has accepted the job of regional manager for
Arkansas in the W5 Association under Mike, KD9KC. Andrew actually lives
in Louisiana which has no qualifying SOTA Summits, but does travel quite
a bit. Welcome aboard, Andrew!
Todd, N4SR, has agreed to take the Tennessee Region in the W4
Association under Chuck, K4QS. Tennessee has is pretty much all
mountains! Welcome aboard, Todd!
Goat-Meister Steve, WG0AT, reports:
“It is with great pleasure I can announce CO has added 1500 new peaks to
our original list of 200. Plus adding South Dakota with almost 50 peaks!
“Yes CO has many high peaks (4,000!) but what’s exciting here is we
added many of the lower peaks in this recent update. Making easier for
more folks to get involved with SOTA for the first time. You don’t have
to be a mountaineer to stroll up a 8000’ butte who’s trailhead starts at
7450’ for example. Bring grandma and the kids on a SOTA picnic?”
“Sure it’s not worth the ten points like the high peaks but still it
will give you the full flavor of what a SOTApedtion is all about! The
fun of making contacts from some altitude. Or as I like to say,“Ham
Radio with Altitude”! So you want to be DX for the weekend try
activating a SOTA peak in ND or SD for a change! See what it’s like to
be on the other end of the pile up!”
Eastern South Dakota [and North Dakota, and Kansas, Nebraska, and
Oklahoma] tend to be flat. OK … really flat, that’s why they’re
called “The Great Plains.” But Western SD has mountains! This latest
update gives Colorado 1,700 SOTA Peaks and adds SD to the W0 Association
which should be appearing in the Summits Database as soon as the update
is processed. Nicely done, Steve!
And, I can’t close this month without noting Chaser Extraordinaire Rich,
N4EX, who has worked 261 activations. He is followed by W7CNL at 171,
VE2JCW at 149, WA2USA at 141, VA6FUN at 135, NS7P at 132, and VA2SG at
102. Activations are a lot more fun with chasers! Checking my logs,
Rich has been my first caller on every single one! Thanks to all.
[I’ve been watching “Number of Activations Worked” for the chasers as a possibly more fair way to compare them … working a 1-point or a 10-point expedition takes the same effort]
That’s going to be it for now. There are many really great activation
stories out on the Internet, I’ve found that I can Google a summit ID,
such as from the list above, and 9 times out of 10, or maybe more, I’ll
get a hit on an activation report. Many have really cool photos, some
even have videos.
73 to all and Keep Climbing!
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH -32. from Rob and Audrey G4RQJ.
Sunday 30th July Nine Standards Rig.
Started this one from the B6270 at NY809042 room for a few cars on the grassy verge but a bit mole-hilled. There is an information board on a post giving details of preferred routes of the coast to coast walk for different months of the year to conserve footpaths. It was frankly almost unintelligible and involved a red and yellow path, neither actually marked on the ground. We decided to use our usual approach and were quite pleased to meet a couple of old (well our age) experienced walkers who were similarly baffled by the red/yellow route business. Perhaps it’s an age thing.
There is a signpost at NY817057 that makes no mention of the new obvious vehicle track that leads north east to the Charles and Diana wedding commemoration pillar. This route was made during the recent refurbishing of the nine standards themselves and is much better than the route through the depth of Rollinson Haggs there are several remains of buildings along the ridge, we use the one close to the trig point as shelter. This is well away from the standards themselves so does not upset the steady streams of visitors. About 40 contacts spread across the usual range of frequencies. The descent is fairly gradual most of the way, only the ramped section causing a bit of knee pain reducing me to an impersonation of John Mills in the film” Ryan’s Daughter”
See the merits of a beam being discussed on the reflector. In the Lake District and the North Pennines you will probably manage to qualify using a rubber duck from the larger summits particularly those with a path to the regular chasers in Lancashire or the Cumbrian coast however if at all possible a beam is the way to go for sure contacts. We always use the 4el yagi and have only found it to be a little difficult when operating in the Welsh Borders where the chasers are almost all around you and it can be easier with fewer elements and less directivity. Another thing to bear in mind when in LD/NP is that half channels on 2 metres have not really taken off. The band occupancy tends to be low and it’s just twice as much silence to scan through, they’re not programmed in the main rig here although it can do them.
Sunday 7th August Whitbarrow Scar
Ascend from the path at the rear of the sports field of Witherslack Hall School. If inbound from the east on the A590 with Whitbarrow Scar on your right there is a short single carriageway section complete with speed cameras. Just after the road becomes dual carriageway again turn right and follow the minor road to the school. The path through the woods is steep with some exposure and the full woodland of summer gives some reassurance, quite why I don’t know. Once at the wall and over the stile the panic is over. The summit is bare and windswept, take note of the trees. In addition the ground is solid rock and pegs are impossible. This is the hill where Audrey was seriously “ticked” on a previous visit, 15 of the little blighters and several others have reported a problem so we took no chances and taped the bottoms of our trousers to our socks and boots so we looked like Worzel Gummage.
There was a very strong wind on the summit which clean snapped one of the homebrew adaptors on the antenna pole resulting in a jury rigged effort with some reduction in height. This combined with lower than normal end points (peg trouble) probably did not help the hf signal. Still managed about 40 contacts across the usual bands and even a couple on 70cms using one of our two little Baufengs with its own rubber duck. Seem like a good buy at £22 each + p and p. Handy for safety coms between us in bad wx on 446 MHz , a torch and 2m as well. Came down via Bell Rake just at the head of which is a cave by the path, probably a mine adit and best avoided, possibly much of the spoil from it makes up the contents of Bell Rake and may date back to the middle ages. From the foot of Bell Rake the walk back through the woods seems further than it is and can be muddy, ignore the minor vehicle track on the right about ten minutes walk in.
Sunday 14th August Dent.
This is a small fell, wooded for about half the climb and is the first or last hill on the coast to coast path. From the south, leave the A595 at Egremont at a roundabout onto a minor road heading north. (Mike Harding, northern comedian said of Egremont “I saw what I thought was a glove in the middle of the road, it was a small dog that had been blown inside out” sorry lads, he’s not too kind about Barrow either) At NY 023134 Black How there is the start of a logging road signed as the C to C walk where there is room for maybe 3 cars. Follow the track through the woods to a sign on your left pointing into the woods signed coast to coast.
This path is very boggy as we have learned in the past and the best plan if there is no logging in progress is to follow the logging road to a point where it veers away to the right and on your left is a plain path that leads you neatly to the point where the muddy path opens on to the fell .There is a small assortment of old gate posts, a couple of stiles and a seat at this point and over the uphill stile is the obvious track to the shelter less summit. Radio wise the summit is seriously screened to the south but usually a good selection of locals on 2fm at the weekend and always a pleasure to chat to them. They are of course very restricted by the hills on vhf. A nice little hill with great sea views but quite busy with c to c walkers and can be cold even in summer.
Started some replacement engineering of the SOTA gear this week as much of it has been in service since almost the beginning of the program. Making new traps for the hf trap dipole including a set for 20m and found that it is mush easier and more accurate to use a signal generator and rf voltmeter rather than the usual gdo. We use 22mm plastic water pipe as a former and wind the traps with RG174 and have found an easy way to set the trap to frequency
Wind the trap to be slightly lower than the required frequency with a little spacing slack. Then take a length of nylon tent guy, secure it at one end (dab of hot melt glue) and wind it into the coil windings checking the frequency as you go the turns an one end will be spaced by the line and those below it will pushed closer together. When you reach the right frequency pull the line in tight add a spot of glue and cut off the remainder. Cover the whole trap with self amalgamating tap taking care not to move the windings. This is much more stable than the more usual push it out a bit and add dabs of glue air gap.
Sunday 21st August Whernside.
A bigger workout for both of us than of late testing breathing (Audrey) and knee (me) but although this is the largest of the three peaks and a longish walk in from Ribble Head the gradients are all reasonable with no really steep descents. The wonders of Victorian engineering are an interesting sight on the climb, first a close up of the huge viaduct and the remains of the navvy camp and works where so many lived, worked and died during its construction. It must have been hell in winter. Further on the path crosses the rail tracks on a stone bridge. Alongside is another stone bridge that carries the river over the lines as well and to your right is the entrance to the Blea Moor tunnel (2,404 m) that carries the tracks through to Dent Dale and round the foot of Great Knoutberry Hill.
The final approach to the summit may be made more pleasant for those not keen on drops by crossing a stile where a cross wall meets the wall that borders the path. Follow the cross wall about 100m to a metal stile of sorts, cross it and return down the cross wall to continue the ascent now protected by the main wall. From this place of safety you can view the toddlers climbing the regular path and ponder the actions of the Gods that put someone with so little sense of balance on a planet that needs quite a lot of it (Earlier my performance on the single plank bridge back in the valley was a sight to behold).
The summit of Whernside presents its own problems particularly in the weather conditions of today. The shelter is small and usually full on this very busy hill and the protective wall runs south to north through it. With the wind in the west that side is exposed to whatever it cares to bring. The sheltered east side carries the path up and down and whilst VHF with the beam and mast hand held is an option, the sheer numbers of shirt sleeved walkers on the relatively narrow space makes HF antennas impractical. As we arrived in cloud the strong gusty wind brought heavy rain squalls from the west and it was in that side that we were forced to settle in full fleeces and waterproofs. As a result, with wet hands my CW was awful so many apologies.
On VHF the FT817 started to show signs of distress so we replaced it with the Kenwood h/h which seemed happier. We were quite pleased to be on the way down after two hours of it but only a couple of hundred feet lower we dropped out of the cloud to see lines of shirt sleeved climbers on the other side of the wall and us un full winter array.
We’ve seen the debate about DX cluster spots and honestly not sure. On a bad day with no returns it could be a godsend but when things are busy more people in the pile up could be a problem. If you do a good few bands and surface conditions are poor then speed really is of the essence and you do have to avoid getting sucked in to staying too long. We always try to give every caller a qso but in bad weather it can be difficult.
Sunday 28th August Hutton Roof Crags.
We left the decision as to which fell to attempt until late as usual but the complications started just after midnight when the FT817 that was on charge refused to turn off. Eventually had to disconnect the internal battery to stop it, then remove the front panel and its circuit board to reach and clean the switch. This cured the problem but by now it was 2.15am. We were woken at 7.30 by the rain beating on the window obviously being driven by a fair gale so decided to defer the decision again! Later in the morning things looked a little better so we opted for Hutton Roof one of our local one pointers and only about an hours drive, no points for us but a nice leg stretcher. On the top it was very windy but the rain kept going either side of us which was handy as the best part of an hour on hf produced just two contacts after a lot of calling. There was a big pile up on 7032 for Walter but we couldn’t break it or attract any of the circling masses, still think use of QSS (Summit to summit) would be useful on cw. 2m fm made up for it as usual.
Well that’s summer over and here on August Summer Bank holiday it’s cold and windy. Soon be winter bonus time when the weather should improve.
Take care out there and 73
Rob and Audrey
MY FIRST SOTA CW ACTIVATION
I’d like to pass on my thanks. I decided a day off work was needed, so I booked a day’s leave. I had an idea to go out and play SOTA for the day. I then had the idea of trying to qualify a summit using only CW. I’ve had a handful of CW QSO’s in the past, literally less than ten in all my 14yrs as a Ham.
Roy, I remembered your “CW for beginners” pieces in the monthly SOTA news, so I set about reading them last night.
I tried to follow your suggestions, and I’m very pleased with what I achieved today. Yes, I had a few wobbles and got a couple of callsigns wrong, but I was amazed at how well it went. I’ve often heard CW pile-ups on HF, because I listen most nights, but to be the object of the pile-up on 20m was all together a different thing!
Thanks again, your excellent suggestions have help to create yet another SOTA CW enthusiast! (my microphone stayed in it’s box today!)
(Many congratulations and well done Colin. There will never be another “first CW activation” and you will improve quite quickly now. I am delighted to hear of your success - you will have experienced the thrill and exhilaration that only comes after a successful CW activation - when you realise that what you have just achieved is purely as a result of your self-training. I saw you posted, but skip was too long for contact between us - maybe one day on 40 or 80m – Roy).
THE SKYE RIDGE ON THE AIR. By Colwyn Jones, MM6YCJ
We agreed it was coffee time, 11.00 hours on Saturday 2nd July 2011 when we (Ann, Bill and me) dragged our loaded rucksacks onto the summit of Gars Bheinn (895m) on the south end of the Black Cuillin ridge on the Isle of Skye.
The weather was glorious, sweat soaked my shirt; reminding me to mention that dehydration might be a problem later, but the views to the Isle of Rum, Western Isles, Eigg, the mainland and beyond were superb. To the north the jagged, impossible line of peaks stretched out to finally reach Sgurr nan Gillean (GM/SI-004) a mere 7km away as the sea eagle flies.
My two companions looked at me expectantly as we sat drinking in the views, and started drinking the meagre rations of water we would need to eek out over the next 26 hours. Eventually one asked, “well, are you going to start radioing?” “No,” I replied, “this isn’t a Summits on the Air (SOTA) summit. We still have a long way to go before we reach the first one.”
Looking southeast the 10.45 hours tourist boat from Elgol was nearly half way to Coruisk. We had chartered it for the 08.30 morning departure and left on a flat calm sea, to a precarious drop off by treacherous rocks. There the colony of common seals and their new born pups basked in the sunshine and watched as we clumsily jumped from prow to rock, to get safely ashore.
The Cuillin Ridge Traverse on the Isle of Skye is Britain’s finest mountaineering challenge. Twenty-two peaks of rough gabbro and basalt lie in a continuous chain stretching over 12 sinuous kilometres. They create the Cuillin Ridge Traverse, without doubt the finest and longest Alpine-style rock climbing route in the UK, some say in Europe, with over 4000 metres (13,000 feet) of ascent and descent. Today I had the added burden of portable radio gear and 6 litres of water.
With no coffee on sale, fair trade or otherwise, we set off along the ridge to the first Munro (a summit above 3000ft), Sgurr nan Eag (924m). After the steep ascent, plus the clear views north, we were inspired and moved quickly and confidently along the undulating ridge, ticking the first summits, only to be halted by the first rock climbing; the Thearlaich-Dubh gap. A deep gash across the ridge with vertical walls.
As we approached we could see a guided party ahead struggling up the north side. Thankfully the man hauling was safely over by the time we arrived. The south wall we efficiently descended with a 30 metre abseil down into the cold, sunless gap. As the more experienced climber I set off up the north side, but soon had to retreat as my rucksack was too wide for the narrow chimney; at least that was my excuse. Neither of the others seemed keen to deputise but without the sack my second attempt was more successful. Committing to a ‘thrutch’ up the chimney, brings one in reach of a big, perfect hold and though awkward, the remainder of the chimney eases.
The precedent of climbing without a rucksack meant we hauled the three sacks up the rock face; mine with my FT817 inside bashing off the rock or perhaps being accidently switched on as it came up.
All safely through the first major obstacle, I left the other two coiling the rope, and raced up to the busy summit of the highest Island peak in Scotland; Sgurr Alasdair (993m) GM/SI-001.
I started calling just before 15.00 hours, making a first contact at 14.58; GM7PKT/P (Robin) as a summit–2–summit contact. Robin is always on a summit and he was out again on GM/CS-044 Beinn Teallach 97km away, with a 5.9 report both ways. The qualifying 4 contacts were quickly made, my total was eight. Preserving battery life was a major concern dictating somewhat curt responses.
I had been on Sgurr Alasdair almost 13 months earlier when MM0DHY had activated it for the first time. Since then, I had passed my foundation licence and started SOTA myself; clearly a contagious condition!
I quickly packed, leaving behind a few bemused hill walkers, and followed my two companions who had already left without me! Despite their best attempts, we were reunited by the time we reached Sgurr Mhic Choinnich (948m) and from there we continued above the screes of An Stac to reach the most striking and dangerous of the Skye Cuillin; The Inaccessible Pinnacle (986m) GM/SI-002. I started calling just after 17.00 hours, making first contact at 17.09; MM3WJZ/P (Ian) as a summit–2–summit contact. He was on GM/WS-001 Ben Nevis. With 4000ft of antenna each, the signal report was way over 5.9 both ways, perfect audio.
All contacts from the first activation of these two peaks had been on 145MHz, so to minimise weight, I had taken only the 2m antennae; a 2 element YAGI; nothing like limiting your options! In reality these peaks are so steep deploying an inverted V dipole is problematic. I spoke with 5 others making 6 in total and the second summit activated.
I do have to say that SI-002 attracts only 6 SOTA points, but needs ropes and serious rock climbing to get to the summit. Surely this is the one SOTA summit worthy of summer bonus points?
After the Inn Pin, traversing the next Munro; Sgurr na Banachdich (965m), seemed a dawdle. We were weary and the long sections over Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh (973m) and then Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh (918m) were endured knowing we could rest soon.
We arrived at one of the few grassy areas on the ridge at the Bealach na Glaic Moire just before 21.00 hours on Saturday night to bivouac below the towering south ridge of Bidean Druim Nam Ramh. It was glorious, sitting in this meadow, eating supper as the sun set in the big skies over the distant Western Isles. Even the midges didn’t seem to matter up there.
Although some of the higher tops were cloudy next morning we slept well and were up and off at 06.00, and had completed two abseil descents before 07.30, a fine way to start the day.
The next summit was the lofty Bruiche na Frithe with it’s solid triangulation station. Concerned about the weather we barely paused and continued along the screes to traverse Am Basteir. This brought us to the vertical face taken by Naysmiths route on the Basteir tooth, the final obstacle of the ridge traverse. We set up the belay for the final rock climb. The short but exposed traverse to the foot of the crack, then up the obvious line to pull over onto a flat area. We coiled the ropes then scrambled onto the summit. The ridge led down to the final bealach, where we sat looking at the final ascent. Maybe we would finish after all!
Shortly, we reached the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean (965m) GM/SI-004 and shook hands. The climbing was over for the day. I started calling at about 10.20 hours. Nothing! I checked the time. Surely those lazy shack sloths would be out of bed by 10.30? Still nothing. My long suffering companions started pulling on jackets, hats and gloves. My CQ calls were becoming more strident and the timbre of my voice was slowly rising. Still 145.500 remained quiet. I checked and rechecked that I was transmitting. Although the 817 battery was flat, my spare battery was showing 10.8v. Call after call with no response. Despair was threatening to engulf me when GM8RBR, came in at 10:33, nearly knocking me off the summit block; volume was way too high!
Bill, down in Portree. Blessed relief, we exchanged brief reports then he said, “sorry to cut you off but GM3JIJ is giving his report and I want to get back to it. He’s on 145.525 and everyone will be listening to him. I’d wait until John has finished if I were you.”
Sure enough, I listened to news about museums on the air in Pontefract and beyond. On calling CQ again, GM7PKT/M replied. Robin was nearly at the top of Creag Meaghaidh (GM/CS-002). He would be there within a few minutes so I agreed to stay on the summit until he arrived. GM3JIJ finished his newsletter and on calling to see who was listening, I made the third contact. There were nearly half a dozen stations and I looked forward to activating the hill, but only John stayed on air. I still needed that fourth contact. Happily, it arrived a shortly afterwards. GM0DRU, Ian in Stornoway, then Robin; GM7PKT/P summit-2-summit on CS-002 107km away and GM4COX/P Jack, also summit-2-summit on GM/SS-165.
Success, I had activated the Skye ridge. We happily scrambled down the south ridge, passing more exasperated hillwalkers and eventually arrived at our destination; the Sligachan Hotel just before 14.00 hours, and the sun had come out again. Total time, sea level to sea level was 29 hours. We had bivouacked for 9 hours (21:00 to 06:00) so 20 hours in total, and from first to last top 15.5 hours (including radio time).
The Skye Ridge is a worthy objective for any mountaineer; but by combining this with Summits on the Air, I had achieved the first activation of the Black Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, and I still had a half a litre of water left!
Colwyn Jones, MM6YCJ
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band. August typically signals a change from summer conditions into autumn conditions, with the summer sporadic E season coming to an end & daytime conditions on the low bands improving. Certainly in the early part of the month conditions were very poor, but over the past two weeks 80 metres in particular has shown a marked improvement, at least from my experience.
SOTA activity on Top Band was once again quite low with only leading activator John G4YSS active on the band from a summit. This month John again took a trip the Yorkshire Dales where he activated G/NP-004 Whernside on 9th August. Aside from Top Band this was a very special activation as Hazel, who has accompanied John on several activations was this time able to claim activator points in her own right with her shiny new foundation callsign M6YLS. Also tagging along was 3 ½ year old Jack, who definitely had the easiest ascent, I wonder if I could find myself a “Mark pack” & somebody willing to carry it. Probably not HI!
Hazel operated on 145MHz, which allowed John to concentrate on HF/MF where he had some success, along with 4 Metres FM where he managed a QSO with Doug G1KLZ.
For the middle of a weekday John did very well on Top Band with 3 QSO’s, which would easily have been 5 if I had not been at work & Mike EI2CL was not suffering from Television QRM. I class the Yorkshire 3 peaks as local, despite living in Blackburn, as I can usually hear VHF handheld activations from all three summits quite easily, so 160m would have been a doddle.
John’s excellent activation report (including a little too much information at one point) can be found here:
With Top band being primarily a winter band, several activators & chasers will no doubt be using the lull in activity over the summer to modify or develop antennas for winter use on the band. I am happy that the link dipole I have made is the best option for me, so instead my project is a lightweight 60-Watt linear amplifier for 160m, which should make me easier to hear in daytime conditions.
At home, the best antenna I have so far tried has been a 50ft loaded sloping vertical but for those with limited space a vertical need not be the only option.
I had a very interesting email from Sean M0GIA who has some experience of activating on Top Band, although he has not activated on the band for a couple of years. From the sound of things this may be about to change & I hope to hear Sean on 160m from a summit this winter. Sean also included details of the system he developed to use at his home QTH where he has very little space for antennas, especially for Top Band.
Some readers may have seen this article before, but it does demonstrate that with very little space, & a bit of imagination it is possible to fit a 160m antenna in a very small space. I am sure Sean will not mind me including a link to it here:
After having some recent success with 145MHz mobile on my motorcycle, I am tempted to have a go at putting something together for 160M. Whilst this would not be for use while moving, it would at least mean that I would have some Top Band capability nearby that I could use to chase weekday activations that I usually miss at work.
At the time of writing, as previously mentioned the only Top band activation during August that I am aware of was John G4YSS’s activation of Whernside, if I have missed any others please let me know:
On the 9th August, John G4YSS (operating as GX0OOO/P) activated G/NP-004 Whernside, & had 3 QSO’s on 160m (all CW).
As always, If you do have any suggestions on things that you think should be included, or if you wish to contribute tips, ideas or anything else that you think may help others on the band please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month,
CW REPORT FOR AUGUST 2011 - by Roy G4SSH
The summer holidays are over and the children are back to school, which will mean a reduction in SOTA activations from their peak of 100+ on some days in August.
We reported that HF propagation was bad in July, but the first 3 weeks of August was even worse. 7 MHz was just a crackle on some days with many thunderstorms adding extra QRN. On the 8th Bernhard OE/DL4CW, who usually attracts dozens of chasers with OE 10 pointers, found himself calling CQ SOTA with no reply on 3 bands. He finally managing to scrape 5 contacts on 10 MHz – unbelievable.
However, conditions did improve during the last week in August. At my QTH my modest HF multi-band vertical antenna began to pick up OE, OK and HA QRP activators who had been inaudible during the summer months, so it looks as though we are moving into autumn. The higher bands are becoming useable again and it was refreshing to note the many CW activators commencing on 14 then dropping down though 10 MHz to 7 MHz – which is much preferred by many chasers because it thins out the pile up on 7032 KHz.
There were many highlights for CW chasers during August, starting with Norby who was active with his Irish call EI8KD during the first few days of the month on his return from taking part in the IOTA contest, then returned to activate Luxemburg Castles on the Air on the 6th. Daniel OK1DIG did a magnificent expedition on the 5th activating 4 x 10 pointers KA-004, 006, 005and 003 which were all over 1000m. Jurg HB9BAB abandoned his Altburg wooden tower and activated many different mountains, including some in Germany, Jaakko OH7BF became a regular activator around 1500 UTC for a week on 14058 KHz and it was a pleasure to hear regular activations from CT and EA stations on 14 and 18 MHz. John GX0OOO activated top band from NP-004 and regular activator Rolf HB9DGV was heard operating from the Isle of Skye. French stations once more activated 6 summits in one day, which was a shame because I was /A in Cornwall at the time and my indoor 5 foot vertical antenna was just not capable of hearing their signals. DL8JJ Emil operated on 7032 KHz all day from DM/HE-023 on the 13th and repeated the feat from HE-017 on the 17th with a powerful signal.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: EA2EA, M1EYP, HB9BIN,
21 MHz: NE1SJ, CT1DRB, M1EYP,
18 MHz: HB9HVK, VA2SG,
DK1BN, DL2DVE, DK7MG, DJ5RE,
EA2EA, EA2BD, EA/F5UKL,
F6ENO, F/S56CW, F6HBI,
MW1EYP, GM0UDL, GM0BPU, G4EDG, MM0ROV,
K7NEW, KI6J, K4QS, KH2TJ, KE5AKL, KD9KC, K6DGW, KB1PBA,
NS0TA, NE1SJ, N0B, N6IZ, N6VDR, NS7P, N6VDR, N4WDC, N6UHB,
WSOTA, W1PNS, W2VV, W4AMW, WN1E,
VA2OTA. VE2/VE3SIE, VA2SS, VE2JCW, VA2SG,
DL9UJF, DK7MG, DL/HB9BAB, DF3MC, DK1BN, DC7CCC, DL/HB9AGO, DL2DVE, DL/HB9BRJ, DL6CGC, DJ3CQ,
EA2EA, EA4MY/1, EA/F5UKL,
F6AVE, F6HBI, F6ENO, F/HB9AFI, F5ROL,
HA3HK, HA7UL, HA2PP,
HB9AFI, HB9BHW, HB9BIN, HB9BHW, HB9DGV, HB9AFH, HB9AGO,
OE5EEP, OE/DL4CW, OE/DF3MC
OK1DIG, OK1XVZ, OK1AU, OK1CZ, OK1EQ, OK1DST, OK/DL7VKD, OK1FFU, OK1HAG, OK2SAM, OK7CM, OK2BDF,
S51RU, S57X, S57XX, S53XX, S5/HG4UK, S51ZJ,
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz GX0OOO, DL2DVE, DK1BN.
1.8 MHz GX0OOO,
A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers, heard activating SOTA’s for the first time on CW during the last month:- Jan OK2ZAW, Libor OK6TW, Larry W8VKO, Kurt SM6BGG, Jiri OK1DO, David CT1DRB, Miro OK1DVM, Club S71SLO, Emmanuel F5ROL, Rob OK2PYA, Cap W4AMW, Markus HB9HVK.
Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were:
DL/HB9BAB/P, DL/OE8SPW, DL/HB9AGO, DL/HB9BRJ, DL/OK1EQ,
EA/LA1KHA, EA/F5UKL, UT/HA6IAY,
F/DL2XL, F/S56CW, F/HB9AFI,
OE/DL4CW, OE/OK6TW, OE/OK2ZAW, OE/DJ3AX, OE/W8VKO, OE/DJ3RE, OE/DL3VTL, OE/DF3MC.
OK/DL9UJF, OK8CCC (DC7CCC), OK/DL7VKD, OK/DJ5AA, SP/DC7CCC,
CONTESTS DURING SEPTEMBER 2011
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots/bands. This is not a complete list of contests.
3rd-4th 0001-2359 All Asia SSB DX contest
3rd only 1300-1600 AGCW Straight Key party
10th-11th 0001-2359 WAE SSB DX Contest
11th only 0001-2359 SKCC CW weekend sprint
17-18th 1200-1200 Scandinavian CW activity contest.
24th-25th 0001-2359 CQ World-wide RTTY DX contest
SOTA News is normally published around noon UTC on the last day of each month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 25th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe, the USA, Canada South Africa, South Korea, and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor