So everyone keeps saying. But on the morning of Thursday 21st March 2013 (now officially springtime), I found it was already here. An early get-up saw me away at 5.45am and onto the M56 motorway, and A55 across North Wales. The chit-chat on GB3PZ 70cm IRLP repeater (Stalybridge) kept me company most of the way to Conwy.
After turning left (south), then following the signs through Rowen, I was soon regretting not consulting Jimmy in more detail. Which was the road that didn’t have the horrid sharp bends, where the width of the tarmac equalled the width of my car, and no more? And didn’t have the gates? Well, not the one through Rowen it turned out. Worse still, despite a favourable weather forecast and dry road surfaces all the way, ice was now beginning to appear on the tarmac in isolated patches. When not anxiously looking down at the road, I anxiously looked up at the hills. They were white!
I parked on the usual cul-de-sac road (ends in a car park) just south of Tal y Fan GW/NW-040. Here I discovered the absence of my camera. A text exchange with my XYL Marianne confirmed it was still in the shack, and I would have to take some piccys on my 'phone and try to transfer them to my PC via Bluetooth.
There wasn’t any snow on the road, but as soon as I’d climbed the ladder stile into the field, there was plenty. And more and more as I got higher. Another walker overtook me on this section, he was the first of just three on this hill this morning.
As usual, I ignored the marked path that takes a scrambly route alongside the wall, and walked around the north side of the hill. I spotted the usual gully where I make a beeline for the ridge, but it was under pretty deep snow. Clearly, other walkers had been up and down it, so I gave it a go, trying to remove images from my mind of the Snowdon gully slide that has been all over the telly and YouTube recently!
Taking care with each footstep, and kicking steps into the snow as necessary got me to the wall, a little out of breath and with considerable aches in my calf muscles. Probably as much ache as from last week’s ascent of Corndon Hill, but not as much as from covering the brake pedal on last week’s driving descent down the Long Mynd road!
Soon I was at the summit and trig point, but the wind was very stiff, and was whipping up lots of snow from the ground. I dropped a little back towards the gully, and found some partial shelter by some big rocks. It took me a while to get the 40m dipole up and stay up, and I then sat down to operate.
The wind was still whipping the snow about, so I had to retreat into my bothy bag. The problem with this was that I couldn’t see when my pole had fallen down again! I could hear the 40m band suddenly go silent though, which gave me a pretty big clue!
When this happened for the third time, I had made 17 contacts in 19 minutes, and decided to call it a day. Apologies to all stations still waiting for the QSO. A call on 2m FM brought one further QSO, and I set about dismantling the station. The SOTA Pole had not frozen, much to my relief, and the steep descent down the snowy gully was not too bad either.
After reaching the car, I treated myself to half my flask of spiced squash and red pepper soup, and commenced the drive north to Great Orme GW/NW-070.