First of all, many thanks to everyone that went out to the summits to support this event. The bad weather in the Eastern States was certainly felt and guys you were certainly missed, but I hope everyone that was able to participate managed to get something out of the day.
For me it was lean pickings, but enjoyable nonetheless and the excellent weather made up for the shortcomings on the radio. So a brief report from my side:
Despite a 40 minute delay trying to get through the town of Llangollen, some 5 miles south of our summit Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042, we managed to arrive at a the small cairn that denotes the highest point on time at 12:10z with a view to being on the bands by 12:30z. However, we found it impossible to set up close to the highest point as, previously unknown to us, the hill had suffered a devastating fire in mid July 2018 and mostly there was nothing left but ash, burnt peat, burnt heather and in several places, burnt rocks!
Paul moves off to take a look to see whether there is a suitable operating position beyond the summit.
The barren wasteland that is Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042.
Just before the final section of the ascent, we had crossed a grassy area at a small coll where the path widened. Being at the bottom of two slopes, this would have been more damp than the surrounding area and so had survived the fire. Paul double checked the levels and found this area to be 23m below the highest point, so we decided to set up at this position on each side of the path leaving just enough space for walkers to get between the radials on my vertical and Paul’s operating position. Setting up took a little longer than expected.
My 20 / 17m vertical set up on the edge of the ash field.
Operating from this lower position caused us both to have intermittent internet connections, so we were not able to rely on this method when looking for S2S contacts. Indeed, I had to stand close to Paul’s position to get any signal at all. With most of the action being on 20m, Paul basically tuned the SSB section while I concentrated on looking for CW contacts… with an occasional tune up to the top of the band.
We started at 12:45z and after a look over the bands, we compared notes. I was the first to hear a Stateside call at 13:14z - Ken K6HPX. Unfortunately I was not able to attract his attention and it was not his frequency, so I continued looking. Pat KI4SVM was a good signal on 14.061MHz at 13:30z, but I was unable to get a response from him either. I did wonder whether I should raise the power from 30 watts, but when Guru EA2IF could not raise a contact either, I decided not to expend any more battery power. NM1I was heard calling CQ at 14:00z, but he didn’t hear me and I was beginning to suspect an issue, but I was making EU S2S contacts as I came across activators calling.
On SSB I found Jason KE0FKE on W9/WI-004 working a string of contacts on 14.342MHz, so gave him a call at 14:50z. At last a response! I raised the power to 70 watts and we completed a contact with many repeats and 31 reports both ways. Jason’s signals became a lot stronger after we signed and I heard him say he was running an FT-891 at 100 watts and a long wire. I realised that if it was taking relatively high power to get across the pond then, unless conditions improved significantly, there wasn’t that much chance for Paul with his FT-817ND.
Paul sat on the opposite verge of the path and operated 20m, 40m and 60m.
I copied Pete WA7JTM on 14.045MHz at 15:25z, but he was sat between two strong contest stations and didn’t hear me call anyway, even running 70 watts. In between picking up S2S contacts to bring my total to 10, Paul had made a number of S2S contacts by using 40m in addition to 20m. With nothing new found on 20m for a while, at 16:00z we decided to do some calling - me on 17m CW to be followed by 20m CW and Paul on 60m SSB.
First into my log on 18.088MHz was Walt NE4TN immediately followed by Scott KG3W. I then had a short run of EU contacts with those looking for WWFF. Most pleasing was making a contact with Paul VE1PVH. When the frequency went quiet, I moved to 20m, dropped the power to 20 watts to preserve what capacity remained in the battery pack, re-spotted and continued where I had left off on 17m. Adrian YO8AZQ/P was worked in among a number of EU SOTA and WWFF callers. At 16:36z I was called by Al NW8E which then prompted me to have another look for Pete WA7JTM. I found him on 14.059MHz, but try as I might I could not get heard. I completed my activation with a 12th S2S which was the most difficult contact that I have ever had with Juerg HB9BIN/P. Paul worked EI3GYB, G0RQL and G4OBK on 60m SSB and then moved to 40m where he worked Darek LB1DH/P and Manuel EA2DT. At 17:00z we agreed that we had done what we could given the circumstances and went QRT.
So that is the Sixth Trans-Atlantic S2S (NA <> EU) event done and dusted - quite literally in our case. Hopefully we will pick a more congenial summit for the next one on Saturday 2nd November 2019.
73 to all and many thanks forall the contacts,
Gerald GW8CXK/P (aka G4OIG) with Paul GW6GGP/P (aka G4MD).