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Thought you were safe?

Just when you thought you were safe and that I had stopped writing activation reports… well you were wrong!

Even more Lake District and North Pennines summits
Sunday 20th June 2010 to Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Day 1

For this round of activations we were based at the Travelodge in the centre of Carlisle. This was more convenient than being based at a Travelodge on the motorway since we would be approaching from the west and the activations planned for Monday and Tuesday would be to the east in the NP’s.

Sunday started early with an alarm call at 01:45z (02:45 a.m.) – fairly typical for our activations. The 80 mile run out to Paul’s QTH started at 02:20z and despite a section of roadworks, I arrived on schedule at 03:40. There were further roadworks to be negotiated as the M6 was closed between junctions 10 to 11 which meant a familiar detour into Wolverhampton, but thereafter it was an easy if somewhat lengthy drive northwards to our parking spot. This was located in the valley of Mosedale where we parked up at NY330326 at 07:18, just 3 minutes adrift of our estimated time. I chose to park just beyond the small bridge at the end of the tarmac road where there is a grassy parking spot to the left of the bridleway. We weren’t the first in the valley and it was positively heaving when we returned to the car later in the day.

We started our ascent at 07:40 by crossing back over the bridge and forking left to ascend to the track running up by the side of Grainsgill Beck. This took us up to the former mine workings and this section was easy very going. The track thereafter reduced to a footpath and was reasonably well defined, though we did need to ascertain the most appropriate route at a number of points. There was one small stream (Arm o’ Grain) to cross close to a shady tree, but that was the only feature that resembled anything like an obstacle on the route. Once at the col, the path heading off to the left was very clear and we could see our route running in a south-westerly direction up a sharp incline onto the plateau that lies to the east of the summit of Knott G/LD-023. The route thereafter was very easy to follow.

It was 09:02 when we arrived at the summit which was marked by a cairn. I decided to stay close to the highest point to work the higher bands, while Paul moved off to find a suitable spot to set up for HF. It was very pleasant to be able to sit on the dry grass in the sun and set up the stations with a little time in hand, since we were alerted for 09:30. Paul just pipped me getting on air and made his first contact on 60m with Frank G3RMD at 09:17. Propagation on the band was reasonable, though restricted to England, with 12 of the regulars making it into Paul’s log in 30 minutes. After signing with Phil G4OBK, there were no other takers, so Paul moved to 80m where propagation was decidedly towards Scotland, with just Ian GM0NBG/P and Geoff GM4WHA worked. After several calls without further response, Paul decided to call time on the activation and started to pack up at 10:10z.

With the summit lying behind Blencathra and with further summits beyond, I did not have high hopes for making many contacts from this one. John G0TDM was ready waiting for me at 09:18 and it soon became apparent that qualification of the summit would not be an issue since the locals and other regular chasers were out in force. However, I was rather surprised to have 11 in the log in the first 20 minutes of operation. At that point I took a short break to work Geoff GM4WHA who had gone out to a high spot near Annan to attempt to work me on 23cms – the result was a solid contact at 59+ both ways and a new band for the summit. Indeed I was to record the first contacts from Knott on 6m, 4m and 70cms as well during the activation.

After signing with Geoff, I returned to 2m to find Don G0RQL waiting, his signal like many others coming off the edge of Blencathra. We decided to try on 70cms and as we were making the QSY, John M0JDK slipped in to exchange reports on 2m. Surprisingly signals on 70cms were able to skirt the higher ground and a good contact was achieved with Don using SSB. John G0TDM and Geoff GM4WHA, still out at his high spot, tail-ended the contact with Don before I once again got back to 2m to see whether there was anyone waiting. This time I found Phil G4OBK on frequency and after exchanging 59 reports on 2m, we moved up to 70cms where we exchanged 57 reports. After signing, I put further calls out on 70cms SSB and CW, with John G0TDM taking the opportunity to exchange reports on the key, but there were no other takers. I announced a move to 4m FM where John was ready waiting and we also made a quick QSO on 6m by me hooking up the 4m slim jim to the 857 running QRP. Back on 4m, John GD0NFN and Geoff GM4WHA were worked, but a 4th contact eluded me. I went QRT at 10:40z well pleased.

Knott G/LD-023: 60m SSB - 12, 80m SSB – 2, 6m FM – 1, 4m FM – 3, 2m SSB – 14, 70cms SSB – 4, 70cms CW – 1, 23cms FM – 1.

We were just 7 minutes adrift of our schedule when we started our descent at 10:52. It was an extremely pleasant walk back to the car which was reached by 11:50. The walk kick-started the appetite and I was ready for something to eat as my 3 a.m. breakfast had long since disappeared. We set off back down Mosedale at 12:10 and all went well until I had a lapse of concentration in Mungrisdale and turned right on the narrow road to Scales. After four sets of gates (sorry Paul) and a conversation with a car full of young ladies that followed us down the road, we eventually reached the A66 and turned right towards Keswick and thereafter up the A591 towards our second summit for the day, Binsey G/LD-041.

We reached the parking spot adjacent to the sheep pens at NY235350 still ahead of schedule at 13:00 despite having “lost” 10 minutes on the journey. I added the 12AH SLAB to the backpack for this one in order to save LiPo power for the higher summits and we set off through the new pedestrian gate just 6 minutes after our arrival. The ascent up the hill was straightforward, reasonably steep (or was that the 15kg load?) and somewhat uninteresting, but at least the views started to unfold as we neared the summit. It was 13:33 when we touched the trig and since we did not expect to have visitors on this summit I bagged the side of the summit shelter to set up against while Paul once again moved slightly downhill for his HF activation. In fact we did have several groups visit the summit during our activation, which just goes to show what a popular area this part of the Lakes is for walking.

Neither of us rushed to get on and it was 13:57 by the time that we were ready to activate the summit. Paul found Geoff G6MZX ready waiting, but despite being spotted, 60m was hard work and only G4OBK, M0COP, G0RQL (number 4 once again Don!), G0NES and G3OHC were added to the log. After a lengthy period of calling, Paul moved to 80m and Geoff once again was waiting, but there were just 3 contacts on this band, the others being MM0USU and G0RQL. After another barren period of calling, Paul returned to 60m and worked Martyn MM1MAJ/P on Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041 for the only S2S of the day.

On 2m it was Colin 2E0XSD who was waiting on my normal frequency. Signals were predictably weak, but solid. After a chat with Colin, Phil G4OBK called followed by G6LKB, G7OEM and G0TDM. After a few minutes calling, I managed to optimise the beam and raising the power to the maximum 50 watts available from the 857 and managed to get my signal down to Don G0RQL in Devon. Don was Q5 with me which was surprising given the heavily obstructed path. After completing with Don, Matt 2E0XTL called me, but I couldn’t make myself heard. Several others told me the following day that they were calling as well, but Binsey managed to preserve its reputation for being a difficult summit on VHF. It was a shame that Geoff GM4WHA had family commitments at the time of the activation as there was no other activity from north of the border which is the best direction from this summit. The sunshine and the fact that it was Father’s Day certainly had an effect on the numbers sitting in their shacks.

With signals being low on 2m, it was little wonder that I failed to raise any contacts on 70cms. On 6m I found that there was a Sporadic E opening taking place, so I decided to self-spot in case there was an opportunity to work chasers on the band. In hindsight, the value of using this band for SOTA really has to be questioned, as the only chaser contact was that with John G0TDM. I did however manage a decent chat with Brian EA3/G6YXT that made a pleasant change for this band and its embedded semi-contest type operation. So that was my 300th summit – an interesting if not spectacular activation for this milestone. At least the weather was superb!

Binsey G/LD-041: 60m SSB - 7, 80m SSB – 3, 6m SSB – 8, 2m SSB – 6

We were well adrift of our timings as we started back down the hill, but it didn’t really matter as we were only going to the Travelodge in Carlisle. On reaching the town, I found that my satnav didn’t know where the Travelodge actually was, so Paul phoned home for a more precise address after which we found it quite easily. We booked in, sorted our kit out (totally dry for a change) and then had some of the excellent scoff that Paul had prepared before taking a reasonably early night. Paul had some work reports to write on his laptop, so I went back to my room to watch TV. Unfortunately I discovered that the remote was missing and in the morning I discovered that Paul didn’t have one either.

Even more Lake District and North Pennines summits
Sunday 20th June 2010 to Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Day 2

The alarm was set for 04:55z (a relative lie in) and we met at the car just across the road from the Travelodge at 05:20. The receptionist handed me a TV remote when I mentioned that I didn’t have one in my room – apparently several go missing each week. I packed it into the car as I couldn’t be bothered to go back to my room. After sorting out a few things, we left at 05:30 and took the road out towards the motorway where we found the Tesco superstore. Unfortunately Paul had left his hat at home and he needed something more comfortable than the woolly winter one that was packed in his kit. The problem was that 24 hour opening in Carlisle meant that the store was closed, so we would have to call in after we had done our activations at the end of the day.

We reached the parking spot for our next summit, Cold Fell G/NP-020 (NY588584 - Geltsdale RSPB reserve) at 05:58. I discovered that I had made an error on the itinerary and we were in fact over 20 minutes early, so getting ready for the ascent of Cold Fell G/NP-020 wasn’t the most rushed affair. We eventually set off along the track towards Howgill at 06:23. On reaching Howgill, we took the track on the left and then followed the signs to the Bruthwaite viewpoint. The route was initially quite steep, but flattened out somewhat with a final short push up to the viewpoint itself. At the viewpoint sign we found evidence of the Short-eared Owls that live in the area – vole fur and a pellet. The view was certainly spectacular despite there being heavy cloud to the north. From the viewpoint the track continued upwards and eventually it brought us around the south side of the hill with an easy trek into the summit which we reached at 08:00.

The summit of Cold Fell has everything – a trig, an excellent shelter and fences for HF antennas. Not expecting visitors at this time on a Monday morning, I bagged the shelter and Paul utilised the fence. It was now sunny and warm, so I stripped off a few layers before setting up. Applying suncream to exposed areas of skin prompted the sun to go behind the grey clouds that I noticed were suddenly passing overhead. Fortunately there were only a few odd spots and the sun soon came out again.

We were alerted for 09:00, but when Paul opened up on 60m at 08:25 he found John G0TDM waiting to make contact. Conditions were average on the band, but there was little activity and just 7 were worked around England. There were no signals from Scotland despite this summit being relatively close to the border. The situation was corrected once Paul found a clear frequency on 80m at 08:57 where he first worked Andy MM0USU followed by 3 further GM stations and then relative locals in the form of Geoff G6MZX and Rob G4RQJ. The frequency went quiet at 09:10 and after a few more calls Paul decided to pack the kit away.

On 2m SSB I found Mike G4BLH was waiting for me on my usual frequency. Signals weren’t very strong, but the run that followed was steady with reports varying from S1 to S5. I had worked 11 when Graham G4JZF called me to say Brian G8ADD was pn frequency. QSB played a big part in making the contact which was marginal to say the least, but I copied both calls and my 44 report in one short over and was able to provide Brian with a report by return. Thanks for that one Graham and well done Brian with your FT-290R barefoot. After working Brian, I moved to 70cms to make 4 contacts using SSB and CW. Then at 09:10 I decided to activate 10MHz, so a change of antenna was required – off with the dual band beam and up with the 30m monoband dipole. My initial call on the band went unheeded, so I self-spotted at 09:20……. this was the signal for all hell to let loose! I was working the run when Paul came up to see how I was getting on. The band was in good shape with 29 contacts made across HB9, F, G, DL, SM, HA, OE, OK, PA, EI, 9A and I. Eventually the frequency went quiet at 09:55 leaving me quivering slightly, but with a big smile on my face!

Cold Fell G/NP-020: 60m SSB - 7, 80m SSB – 6, 30m CW – 29, 2m SSB – 12, 70cms SSB – 2, 70cms CW – 2.

After packing the kit away, we set off at 10:12, amazingly 3 minutes ahead of schedule. Contrary to expectations, a few people had visited the summit during our activation and they all seemed to have come from a north-easterly direction so we set off that way across trackless moor so cutting the corner off our ascent route. This saved us some time and we arrived at the car at 11:16, some 24 minutes ahead of schedule. Lunch was a relaxed affair, but we still managed to despatch soup and a roll and prepare for the next summit in 10 minutes flat to get on the road by 11:30. With the roads reasonably clear, we made our way through the charming town of Alston and arrived at the parking spot for Burnhope Seat G/NP-003 at NY781358 by 12:10. Being 35 minutes ahead of schedule, Paul took the opportunity to phone home while I sorted some kit out and checked various items before we eventually set off at 12:31.

Although the summit area can be seen from the parking spot, we had decided to keep to the fence line for the ascent. The inherent dampness of the area was demonstrated by us finding 3 frogs on our ascent, one almost causing me a twisted ankle as I took diversionary action to avoid treading on it. At the stream we crossed from the left side of the fence to the right and turning left at the col it was then a stroll up to the summit proper with its elevated trig. The ascent took a steady and totally unspectacular 54 minutes in the heat of the day. Paul decided once again to use the fence close to the summit while I discovered the trig top was open and uncluttered so it was a very simple task to put the antenna up. There was a bird “squeaking” away as we set up our stations and this continued unabated during the whole of our activation – I did wonder whether birds get sore throats.

I set my equipment up on the raised platform to the trig which provided me with a comfortable seating position in the warm sunshine. There was a breeze flowing across the summit, but it was not sufficient strong to cause any issues with the keeping the beam on heading. Opening at 13:42 I was rather surprised to find Laurie G6XLL on frequency and was treated to a QSO with his XYL Diana G1DMS while he spotted me. In all I worked 12 on 2m SSB from this summit, with S2S contacts with Caroline MM3ZCB/P and Martyn MM1MAJ/P on Ben More GM/SS-001 easily made at 58 both ways – thanks Don G0NES for the tip off. I caught Geoff GM4WHA/M sneaking off home close to Gretna and ended with a chat with Brian G4ZRP down on the Wirral. At 14:04 I moved to 70cms and managed to work Mike G4BLH on SSB followed by Graham G3OHC on CW. For some unknown reason I did not hear John G0TDM on either band and I later found out that Sue G1OHH had been looking me as well.

I lowered the pole at 14:15 and changed to the 30m dipole. Unfortunately the wire snagged on a rock and as I raised the pole I heard a loud crack and a section split to quickly modify the pole into an L shape – oh well, it had to happen sometime! I quickly removed the top section and taking care not to get cut by the glass fibre shards, reattached the dipole and soon was up and running on 10.118MHz. There was no need to self-spot this time as Paul OE8SPW was on the ball - in fact I started with a chat with Carlo I2HTT/2 which give the SOTA chasers time to line up. Once again it was pure bedlam after I had signed with Carlo – I would imagine that he was rather bemused by all the activity. I worked another 29 stations on this one around I, F, OE, DL, OK, G, LA, SP, HB9 and HA. The contact with Norway was an S2S with Kjell LA1KHA/P on the “Norwegian Cloud” LA/TM-049. During the run I had to throw my doll out of the pram on account of people not listening to my request for a specific callsign and there was some deliberate jamming, but apart from that, the activation went smoothly. I must admit to being somewhat disappointed when the frequency went clear at 15:10, even more so afterwards when I realised that once again I hadn’t broken the 30 contacts barrier.

Paul started on 60m as usual and his first contact on this summit was at 13:43 with Stewart M0HED. John G0TDM followed and the run went on steadily until the frequency went quiet after Paul worked Martin G4ENZ. Several people told Paul that they couldn’t hear me which really shows just how unspectacular the summit is on VHF. Moving to 80m at around 14:15 Paul first worked Geoff GM4WHA, followed by Rob G4RQJ. Third in the 80m log was Don G0RQL who was the only person to make it on both bands. After a period of calling, Ron GW6ZDH provided a fourth contact for Paul. Generally the band was not in good condition.

Burnhope Seat G/NP-003: 60m SSB - 11, 80m SSB – 4, 30m CW – 29, 2m SSB – 12, 70cms SSB – 1, 70cms CW – 1.

It took me a while before I got everything packed away, the broken part of my pole strapped to the SOTA pole so that I didn’t have to carry it. We started our descent at 15:30 and cut straight down towards the car. I came across another frog halfway down and this one allowed me to pick it up and it sat still on the palm of my hand for quite a while without hopping off. I am always amazed at wildlife at close quarters, even this common amphibian which seemed to trust me. After returning it to the grass, we set off again and reached the car at 16:05. This was 10 minutes later than planned, but we had no more summits until the morning, so it was back to Carlisle via Tescos as planned. Back at the Travelodge we had another round of the usual fare and then let ourselves loose on down-town Carlisle. After a wander around the town centre discounting one pub after another, we ended up in Weatherspoons not far from the Travelodge and were pleased to see ales from The Bitter End Brewery (Cockermouth) on tap. Unfortunately the barrel of Bitter End Golden had just ended, so we were restricted to the weaker Bitter, but surely that meant we could have more……. didn’t it?

In reply to G4OIG:

Even more Lake District and North Pennines summits
Sunday 20th June 2010 to Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Day 3

It was past 23:00 when we got back to our rooms, but that still left sufficient time for me to get enough sleep and still beat the alarm by a considerable margin. I went down to the car earlier than planned to stow my bags and Paul joined me shortly afterwards. We decided that it would be a good idea to have a flask of hot water, so Paul returned to his room to arrange this before we checked out. It was another warm and pleasant day, but a coffee or soup would probably be welcome later on. We left Carlisle at 05:38 and joined the M6 southbound. It was our intention to access the summit of Cross Fell G/NP-001 from close by the CAA installation on Great Dun Fell at NY716316. This was not the parking spot in the satnav, so I had programmed in the nearby village of Dufton from where it was an easy task to drive on to Knock and thereafter the road signposted to the Christian Centre. As we drove out of Dufton, we had an excellent full frontal view of a Tawny Owl pole-sitting by the side of the road. Unfortunately it flew off before I could even think “camera”.

Arriving at the parking spot I noted that there was now a gravel patch on the right side of the road which was more convenient than the spot shown on Inky’s video. The dilemma was that the “no unauthorised vehicles….” sign had been moved down the hill to the quarry turn. I decided to return to the “legal” parking spot, but the drop in height was considerable and being on a mission I decided that we could risk an argument with the powers that be. However, I ensured the car was parked fully off the road so as not to invite confrontation. It was 06:40 by the time I had driven back uphill and parked up and we were now late. As we got ready, an engineer drew up in his car, got out, unlocked and opened the barrier and completely ignored us – test passed!

We set off towards Great Dun Fell at 06:55, skirted around the CAA site on the east side and made excellent progress until we were on the ascent section up Little Dun Fell. Here we took our only pause for a photographic opportunity – indeed there was one – the clouds rolling over the Lake District. I had allowed 1 hour and 30 minutes for the undulating route to Cross Fell, but we were at the summit by 08:04 since we had been able to keep going at a steady pace. Were we actually getting fitter by the day? At the summit it was quite cool and breezy and we could see the clouds over the Lakes were now heading our way. I therefore decided to utilise part of the expansive shelter on the summit, while Paul went for flatter ground to the south prepared to adopt the BVE horizontally polarised style of activation.

The first task for me was to mend my pole which I did by dismantling it and jamming the broken two sections together, one inside the other. A temporary taped joint helped secure this arrangement and cover the jagged ends. After reassembling the sections I was soon able to erect the dual band beam. The extra preparation meant that Paul was on about 10 minutes before me – sufficient time for several to ask where I was. First up on 60m at 08:24 was John G0TDM followed by Geoff G6MZX. The run that followed was a little erratic and it took 35 minutes to work the 12 takers on the band. At 09:00 Paul tried 80m, but the band was not in good shape and no QSOs ensued.

It was 08:32 when John G0TDM headed my log, with David G6LKB making number two. I then had a chat with Colin G4UXH whom I had not worked before. John GM8OTI/P on Cairnharrow GM/SS-191 called in when I finished with Colin. With S9 reports exchanged off the back of my beam, it seemed reasonable to expect decent results from the higher bands – the main reason that John was on Cairnharrow was to make an S2S with me on 23cms. John left me to work the run on 2m and I had 13 in the log when Geoff G4WHA/M in Penrith called me to say that he would go up to Beacon Edge just out of the town to try to work me on 23cms. This provided enough time for Don G0RQL to bag a contact with me at 59 both ways before Geoff came back on. The extra height meant that Geoff easily workable on 23cms – little did I know that John GM8OTI/P was already earwigging and could copy me as I made this contact even though I was using vertical polarisation to work Geoff. Back on 2m SSB, two more takers were worked before John announced that he was now ready to try on 23cms. This was another easy contact, with John fully quieting at my end eunning just 400mW. After a brief chat, I went back to 2m to find another 5 people waiting – the fact that I stick around seems to be sinking in! At 09:28 I eventually moved to 70cms and immediately worked John GM8OTI/P with signals 59 both ways – not bad for 4W to his 2m beam. Another 5 made the log on 70cms, but I missed out with Don G0RQL and Graham G3OHC both of whom I should have worked earlier on the band by piggy-backing QSOs onto the 2m ones. Several minutes of calling did not produce contacts with them. Oh well, I live and learn!

It was 09:48 when I went QRT and Paul had returned to the summit to get a little shelter while I packed up. We started our return at 10:01 and were at the car by 11:00 – a good time to polish off the remaining rolls and have a mug of soup before driving down to Dufton where we would park up for our last summit of the tour, Dufton Pike G/NP-027. I was pleased to see that my car had been completely ignored by all visitors to the CAA installation.

Cross Fell G/NP-01: 60m SSB - 12, 2m SSB – 22 (incl 2 cross-mode to CW, well I did say CW welcome), 70cms SSB – 5, 70cms CW - 1, 23cms FM – 2.

We set off from the car park in Dufton at 11:45, precisely the scheduled time. It was now sunny and hot and I was soon regretting having far too much clothing on and having eaten too much for lunch as well. I also had all four LiPo / NiMH packs in my backpack as I was convinced that I was now running short on power after the previous lengthy activations. The access to the summit was down a farm track which was thankfully partly in shade and full of small dark butterflies which skipped along with us. The initial track section was at a reasonable gradient, but once through the gate and onto the hillside, the hard work began…… and my legs were now starting to complain. Progress was slow over the ground, but the gradient meant that we gained height reasonably quickly. We reached the summit at 12:53, where to my complete amazement I discovered that I was suffering from a bout of vertigo…. most weird as I have been up many an edge with a sharp drop below and not had a problem. Don G0NES later suggested that we had not had sufficient beer the night before and I think he must have been right!

Paul once again dropped down a level to flatter ground to set up for HF and was on for 13:12. At this point I was still finalising my kit shuffling around the summit on my knees! Paul found David G3RDQ/P on Wapley Hill G/WB-016 occupying FE. After an S2S with David, Paul moved down to FL and worked another 6 stations, including Graham G3OHC who was extremely pleased to work his last NP summit. Moving to 80m, Paul worked Don G0RQL, Graham as G4GRG and “just arrived back home and equally pleased to make a contact” Phil G4OBK. Paul went QRT around 13:55.

Switching on with battery pack number 1 I found I had 12 volts registering on the 857 – had I needed to carry all 4 packs? John G0TDM was ready waiting for me at 13:16 and with Geoff G4WHA/A in the shack, a second contact was quickly in the bag. There was no let up and Don G0RQL followed and another 7 thereafter. Signals were generally between S1 and S3, but easily audible. At 13:39 Geoff G4WHA/M called in from Beacon Edge and very quickly two 23cms FM contacts were in the log – he had John with him. The process was then repeated on 70cms SSB, before I moved to 4m FM at 13:50 where I called a very surprised G4YSS operating GX0OOO/P on Great Gable G/LD-005. It was great to have a chat with John for once and then Geoff and John called in on this band for more contacts. With no more takers on 4m, I decided to see whether there was any 2m FM activity and brief reports were exchanged with John G0TDM now truly mobile on the way back home. Another call made and David G6LKB/M made contact from Walney Island. All in all, not a bad activation and all achieved on my knees!

Dufton Pike G/NP-027: 60m SSB - 7, 80m SSB – 3, 4m FM – 3, 2m SSB – 10, 2m FM - 2, 70cms SSB – 2, 23cms FM - 2.

Paul was already relaxing in the sunshine as I started to dismantle the kit. We started the descent at 14:33 and were back at the car by 15:13 where measures were taken to re-hydrate. It had indeed been rather warm on the summit despite the breeze and we had used up all of our water. Thankfully Paul had restocked at Tescos. I pulled out of the car park at 15:33 and we managed to miss most of the rush hour and made it to Paul’s at Stourbridge for 18:30. I was back on the road by 19:00 and walked in my front door at 20:16. Relatively early for a change!

Some useful lessons were learnt this time out. Firstly, never believe your SOTApole is immortal. Mine didn’t quite make 3 years, but it does live on with a permanently shortened section. Secondly, on 3 day activations a small mains PSU would be useful to charge up the LiPOs overnight. Once again Paul provided some excellent food and packed in the cool box it lasted us the three days despite the warm weather. We ate the chicken rolls first and the pastrami last for obvious reasons!

The response from the regular chasers was absolutely brilliant once again. I missed some opportunities on 70cms from some of the summits and was pleased with unexpected ones from others. Running up to 4 bands was a challenge and the 30m sessions were exhilarating, to say the least. It was a pity that conditions were not better on 60m / 80m for Paul to make more contacts. Thanks to everyone who followed us around the summits and to those that spotted us. Hopefully we will find a date for some more action during July.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
10 points to Goatdom, Gerald. What are you going to climb for the big finish? Scafell Pike or Helvellyn for 100% uniques?
73
David

In reply to G4OIG:

Splendid report Gerald. I’ll re-read it a few times to make sure I’ve not missed anything. A few standout points being Cold Fell, small PSUs and July activations.

Cold Fell is a lovely hill. I’m not sure what it is about it but I absolutely enjoyed myself silly when I wandered up it in glorious but hazy weather in 2009. A very much under activated hill.

Small PSUs. I picked up an ex-laptop PSU for 50p at a rally that provides 12.5V 3A for powering my LiPo charger. It came with a coaxial plug that was a perfect match for the socket on the LiPo charger. It’s not worth making a PSU when so much surplus gear is available at silly prices and it saves on more junk becoming landfill. I still haven’t fixed the little 0-30V 1A PSU that failed on my last IO78 trip. That was ideal for power the LiPo charger and charging SLABs. However, SLABs can be charged in the car if you are going to make a long enough journey. Nothing more than connecting them straight across the car’s 12V supply, i.e. the cigar lighter socket. Aside, Sarah’s new car is politically correct. It doesn’t come with an actual lighter that plugs in and gets hot but does have two suitable sockets, one on the dash and one on the centre console, both are marked “12V ACC POWER”. It’s not how I would charge up SLABs on a long term basis but for the occasional time when you need to get some charging done it’s worth remembering.

July activating. I see you have LD-001 booked for this Saturday. I’ll be driving down to Liverpool that morning. I’ll make sure I have the 23cms handy with me. Chance for an S2S with something like Lambrigg Fell.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF and 2E0DAI:

Andy and David,

Interesting comments from you Andy and you’ve answered David’s question. I look forward to the opportunity of an S2S with you. Lambrigg should be okay - I’ll check the path profile and take the appropriate attenuator ;-). I’m running just 70cms and 23cms from Scafell Pike as Paul will be on 2m. If the weather isn’t too bad, we will be adding 4 WOTAs on the “descent” - I will be trying 70cms FM for that and Paul will be on 2m FM with rucksack antennas.

As to Cold Fell, yes I totally agree - a real gem. The parking is easy, the track gives you time to get the body going and the ascent proper gives you enough of a workout to get the endorphins primed for the activation. The views northwards are excellent, though that’s where the clouds came from while we were there so we didn’t see as much as we had hoped. It is definitely a summit that is on my “possible repeat” list.

Paul’s term for a possible PSU to charge the LiPOs is “wall wart”. I’m sure I have something suitable in a shoebox in the garage and adding an 7812 and suitable fusing should be an easy task. Mustn’t make a habit of starting fires in Travelodge rooms, must I?

73, Gerald

P.S. David, it will be unique 305 - all qualified on 144MHz or above.

EDIT 07:45z - Scafell Pike to Lambrigg Fell - obstructed path (Bow Fell, NY244061), but worth a try.

In reply to G4OIG:
If possible Dad and I will be on a summit nearby, Gerald and with 70cm SOTABeam ready. I hope it’s dry…
Best ascent

David

I would love to work you on your MG activation Gerald. It could be tricky though, as it is my 40th birthday “do” on Saturday, so disappearing into the shack, even briefly, may not be warmly received by the Station Manager. I will try though. MG is the premier award in SOTA and requires genuine ability and commitment - I will offer my congratulations now in case I don’t get to work you on Saturday.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

as it is my 40th birthday “do”

Whose birthday is it Tom, yours or the station manager’s?

Exactly! You spend all day in the shack if you want. :wink:

Andy
MM0FMF

I thought you were a man of experience Andy? The above comment suggests quite the opposite!

I met Marianne on my 20th birthday, so this will be a landmark day in more ways than one. And the secret of longevity in the relationship? Just try to do as I am told - birthday or not!

I have just removed my alerts for the RSGB Low Power (80/40) contest for Sunday. I realised that a house to tidy up, plus the ‘day after’ of the 72 pint cask of Bosley Cloud Ale currently settling in my garden, will not be conducive to a full day out activating and contesting!

Instead, I will celebrate my actual birthday date with a pre-work activation on Monday.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Instead, I will celebrate my actual birthday date with a pre-work
activation on Monday.

Work? Monday? No way Jose.

You are clearly in the wrong job.

73

Richard
G3CWI

You may recall I was having lie-ins, camping, activating and taking my wife out to lunch all through your first week of work in September!

Think Stoke is running a week behind Cheshire all next year as well. I’ll do my best to let you know what I’m up to first week back (for you).

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks for the pre-congrats Tom. I feel honoured to have selected your birthday for the event. Raise a glass for me if you can’t get into the shack. Have a great time!

73, Gerald

In reply to 2E0DAI:

Many thanks for the S2S David - apologies for being late on parade - all will be explained in due course! Apologies to your father for keeping him on the summit and out of the pub. Hope that you enjoyed the ale when you got there.

Apologies to all the WOTA chasers - the explanation for this will appear in due course. For now let’s just say WX 1 WOTA nil.

73, Gerald

Well done Gerald, I suspect the weather was not what you would have wished, and I imagine it would be particularly grotty up on LD-001. Hope it took nothing away from your enjoyment of the occasion.

I could hear Paul on 2m, but not well enough to work. I heard a faint trace of something on 432.222 that I assume was you, but not even good enough copy to SWL.

Best regards, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom

Sorry we weren’t able to work, sadly my 2m setup of barefoot '817 and SB3 is somewhat lacking compared to Gerald’s QRO extravaganza :frowning:

Many thanks to those more distant “regulars” - G0NES, G3RMD and G0RQL - that struggled to eventually make successful contacts, and to Ian MW3WJZ/P, Rick M0RCP/P and Walt G3NYY/P for the S2S’s; and sincere apologies to Roger G0TRB for my not quite having the “oomph” to make it…

Our atypical MO was driven by the perceived probability of the difficulty of setting up for HF, which turned out to be spot on. In visibility that rarely exceeded 10m and a flow of people all around the summit area reminiscent of St Pancras in the rush hour, stringing wires about was not really a possibility!

Full report will follow, hope I haven’t stolen too much of Gerald’s thunder :wink:

73 de Paul G4MD

In reply to G4MD and M1EYP:

No thunder stolen Paul. There’s a lot interesting points to make about the day and it will be unusual to report on just a single summit for a change.

Thanks for taking a look for us Tom - hope you enjoyed your 40th. As Paul says the humantide density at the summit was extraordinary seeing the weather was so dire. Just more confirmation that we Brits are a breed apart! Not my favourite kind of summit, but I did not let it mar the activation. Job done as they say!

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:
It was worth the wait and Dad got a fair impression of what all the fuss was about. Congratulation on 100% uniques Mountain Goat.
For a 70cm S2S I needed to get in close [it’s not a band I’d trust for QRP activation success]. We took a lesser version of the wild weather 5 miles or so distant from you on G/LD-040 Lingmoor Fell. If I put my head up above the lee side of the summit it would have been blown off. Being a great deal lower we had periodic views of the Langdale Pikes, Seat Sandal [a first for me due to a white out for my 2009 activation there] and even Helvellyn for a minute. Plenty of callers on our summit and four S2S. The 2E0BTR ground screw has performed faultlessly in high winds, holding the mast up when only 6" in deep and keeping the dratted guy lines in the rucsac!

Today we went to the Kirkstone Pass Inn and climbed my Dad’s suggestion for a suitable summit - Caudale Moor towards Stoney Cove Pike G/LD-018 in the worst conditions I’ve been out in at all from start to finish. My Dad goes out in most weather three times a week so I should get accustomed to his judgement. I take for granted his first class fell knowledge. The first 1500’ ASL are done by car - so how hard can it be? In any event one follows the stone wall from just behind the pub up 1000 feet and along by 2 miles and out of the clouds emerges the summit cairn and the only wall junction behind which we hid from the horizontal rain. Probably like yesterday on Scafell Pike? Sue G1OHH was listening for progress reports and placed the spot for a Vx-7 and beam only activation. The other radios were staying in their polythene bags.
However we had 16 calls on 2m FM in rapid succession from happy, warm hams at home and many best wishes for a safe return. I gobbled down lunch, packed up and then found out a new truth. I regret getting in the survival bag because when I got out I was soaked to the skin! I think I’m bad news for anyone’s waterproofs even a full Paramo set. The extension to Hartsopp Dodd for WOTA was abandoned there and then. We set off at full yomping speed and were in the Kirkstone Pass Inn a little over an hour later. Father dearest was paying.
For Tony LAEs benefit - there is life after bloody Moel y Golfa - it just takes a while to get there.

Off home soon and probably no activations till September unless on our cycle tour it is perfect in Arthog so we can climb Cadair Idris. Thanks to all chasers. Best wishes
David 2E0DAI

In reply to 2E0DAI:

Hi David

Welcome to the world of Extreme Weather Activating!

You soon discover that “there is no such thing as bad weather - only bad wet weather clothing” is not the whole story…

I swear by my Paramo kit (as compared to swearing “at” many other types, as Gerald will attest!) but even with that, yesterday I ended up with a damp midriff where rain had driven upward between jacket and trousers. And it doesn’t matter how “breathable” the kit is, you are almost always going to get water vapour from perspiration condensing somewhere within your layers if outside is colder than inside. Dew point trumps manufacture’s hype every time! At least the water trickling into your boots is warm in that case, rather than cold if it’s leaked in from outside…

In really bad weather, comfort takes a back seat and I settle for survival.

73 de Paul G4MD

(expecting that to prove somewhat controversial!)