I don’t normally submit a trip report for my usual WB one pointers, but there seemed to be some interest in this activation of Snowdon, and in the performance of the Sotabeam MFD.
Thursday 3rd December, Creigiau Gleision.
We drove up the road from Trefiw parking at SH746640 The road up to this point is steep and narrow, with some amazing zig-zags. There is off road parking, but was a little boggy today, but we have a small car and with two of us I was sure we could push the car off if we were stuck.
The route to Creigiau Gleision is along to Llyn Cowlyd then climb over the North top and on to the main South top. The path here is difficult to spot, very different from the paths on the more central peaks. Sally is ticking off the Nuttals, and the South top is one outlier that we had missed several times, so it was our top priority for the two days. Once we had got the appropriate tick, I had some brownie points in the bag and could carry on to the S top for SOTA.
The S top was just on the snow line, and it was very windy. It was difficult to find anywhere sheltered. I had brought the new Sotabeams Multi Function Dipole knowing that in this wind the usual beam would be difficult to manage, and in this it was ideal. I soon had it supported by my rucksack, no guying required. However, starting as always with 2M SSB, the band seemed very quiet. There was no answer to several CQ’s, so I self spotted on my antiquated Nokia phone. This brought G0NES but no others – my fault I was an hour late (blame traffic on the journey from Evesham and the inability to drive past Cotswold Outdoor). I then swapped to 2M FM (so quick to do with the MFD), and managed to get three FM contacts.
At this stage Sally was very much feeling the cold and we knew we had to get moving urgently. Sally is only small, and gets cold quickly. Over the years she has obtained some very impressive kit, but the best pile, pertex, down and primaloft still are not enough to combat the windchill, so it was very good that we could pack up and be away quickly. Once moving everything was fine, and we got back to the car as dusk was settling, and we didn’t need to push the car off the grass.
We stayed the night at the bunk room at St Curigs, Capel Curig. This is curtained off room containing four bunks, in a very nice chapel conversion right in the centre of Capel Curig. It is £20 per person, with breakfast provided, but of course you don’t know who else you will be sharing the room with. We were lucky in that we had it to ourselves. We ate at Plas Y Brennin, with it’s usual good value meals.
Friday 4th December. Snowdon
We had a problem. With Snowndon being much higher than Creigiau Gleision, Sally was concerned that we would be in a possibly colder situation than yesterday. Sally’s solution was rattle around Capel and Betws Y Coed while I went up Snowdon on my own. I wasn’t happy at this, knowing that Sally much prefers to be up in the hills, but the lure of Snowdon was too much and I did abandon her.
At 8:30 the Pen y Pass car park was almost empty. £6 to park for the day. There was snow on the pig track and I had put on crampons before the point where the miners track joins it. What joy, genuine winter conditions. The zig-zags were somewhat icy, and a group of three without ice axe and crampons decided to turn round here, but were having some difficulty getting down. I had wondered about room to set up the antenna at the summit, but it wasn’t a problem today. There was only one other person there and he soon left, so I had the summit to myself.
I stuck the MFD into a patch of snow and was ready to operate in a couple of minutes. I was about 20 minutes late, but just as I was about to put out a call on 2M SSB I heard G3NYY calling CQ from Ruradean hill. Unfortunately he didn’t hear my reply underneath a louder station, but it was with pleasure that I heard he was listening out for me. When free I quickly worked him, then GM4GUF on Tinto. Then followed a good few other stations, to give a total of 16 callsigns in the log, including a third S2S with GW3TJE on Fan Fawr. The MFD seemed to work well, giving some directionality, hence it must have some gain. Best DX was Tinto, G0RQL in Devon (only 31 received) and G6XLL in London (again 31). I would be very interested to know if anyone was listening out for me but could not hear me.
I was conscious of Sally suffering town disease in Betws, so did not try FM, but packed up and got down as quickly as it was safe to do so. As it happened, Sally had a good morning, coffee at Plas Y Brennin, a good chat to the staff at Joe Browns, a walk down the side of the river to Betws and a good look round the gear shops.
As always, I am deeply appreciative of the chasers, especially as it was a weekday, and also thanks to Sally for plan B. It was good to catch Snowdon in such conditions.