Tryfan NW-006 and Mynydd Mawr NW-026
Thursday 25th June 2009
A few days of stable dry weather conditions gave Paul the idea of activating the iconic mountain Tryfan GW/NW-006 and so he put the suggestion to me. I was keen to get this one under the belt as the potential for problems on the ascent of this summit was considerable and decent weather would be crucial. Thursday 25th June looked to be the best day and it so happened that I could take the day off as my work for the week was light and fragmented. Even though this was not a weekend activation, it would mean an early start to get a parking spot at Idwal Cottage.
I managed to be awake at 01:40z some 5 minutes before the alarm. Despite the early hour, I stuck to my routine downing a bowl of cereal before gathering everything together and loading the car to leave Northampton at 02:10z with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees. A slight detour was required off the M6, since the section between junctions 5 and 6 was closed, but I still got to Paul’s house for 03:33z. Paul had already packed the car and the coffee was waiting so we managed a quick turnaround and were leaving Stourbridge by 03:42z. We bagged the first parking spot at Idwal Cottage at 06:00z and after a visit to the facilities and kitting up, we set off up the mountain 20 minutes later. The sun was coming up over the mountain and the mist appeared to be lifting – all seemed to be well for a successful ascent.
We based our approach to the mountain on the G4ERP route - from Idwal Cottage up to Llyn Bochlwyd and strike off left up a grassy slope. There were lots of options where to leave the main track and perhaps we were a little late in doing so. We crossed over the grass and ascended a gulley up what looked like scree, but which was quite easy once we were on it. This took us to a ladder stile which we crossed, then we struck left up the rock face - this part was not easy and we vowed to find a different route for our descent. Once up the steepest part, we made our way over, around and along various rocky outcrops to the summit. Here we found a lone soul lazing in the morning sun pleased to have made the summit on his third attempt this year - the weather had driven him off on both previous attempts. We apologised for disturbing his peace, but he said he had lingered long enough and left us to set up our kit. Paul chose a ledge overlooking the Heather Terrace close to Adam and Eve and I found a recess in the rocks a little further north so that I would have a clear take off towards Lancashire for a potential 23cms contact with Mike G4BLH.
Paul started up on 144.333MHz at 08:55z to find Mike G4BLH/P near Longridge Fell waiting on frequency. The arrangement was for me to piggy back four contacts on 2m SSB to ensure qualification of the summit and this was achieved efficiently and quickly. Paul then continued on the frequency, while I moved up to 70cms SSB to exchange 59 reports with Mike G4BLH. Mike asked what 23cms antenna I would be using – the quadruple quad was the answer. “I’ll give it a go on the rubber duck” was his reply. It might as well have been a piece of wet string – he was still 59 with me when running 100mW and I didn’t even stand up for the contact!
Once back on 70cms SSB, I had a steady run of contacts with Graham G3OHC being the farthest away. John GW4BVE used his 2m beam to give me a contact and Graham G4JZF and Roger G0TRB also came up on the band. I used CW to make the difficult path down to Frank G3RMD and called Don G0RQL on several occasions, but without success, though Don did copy me. At 09:52z I changed the 6 element to vertical polarisation and the mode to FM and worked 3 more stations, one being Mike G4BLH from his home QTH. All in all it was a very successful activation, easily qualified on 70cms thanks to several 2m regulars moving up a band for me.
On 2m SSB, Paul had a steady run of contacts. At 09:13z he was called by Robert GW0PEB/P on Glyder Fach across the col from us. I had exchanged emails with Robert earlier in the week to check on the potential for an S2S and this was Robert calling in to give us a progress report. Paul had 17 in the log by the time the frequency went quiet and he closed after working Frank G3RMD at 09:44z. I was still in action at this time with the move to FM and Paul came over to sit near to me as I finished off. Robert was due to be up on Glyder Fawr GW/NW-003 about this time, so I dropped the main antennas and started to pack away while monitoring using a rubber duck on the 817. At 10:18z up came Robert and I got in at the head of the queue, with Paul bagging the S2S after me. The plan had worked.
Once I had completed packing the kit away, we set out at 10:35z made our descent at a position slightly more northerly than our ascent. This was more or less at the south-west end of the west face, though the actual position is hard to describe in detail. Somewhat further down the mountain we started to discuss how we could describe this route for the Summitsbase website. After some thought, Paul made a very sensible statement - "If you need a detailed description of the route up and down Tryfan, you should not consider climbing the mountain.”
The descent took us 1 hour and 25 minutes and we reached the car at 12:00z precisely on schedule. What I hadn’t planned for was time to transfer the kit and prepare for a mountain of an entirely different character. This delayed us somewhat and we eventually got on the road at 12:29z, 14 minutes later than planned. We then incurred delays to the parking spot (SH547563 – MW0IDX route) for our second summit Mynydd Mawr GW/NW-026 courtesy of caravans and motorhomes. By the time we started our ascent we were 35 minutes behind schedule. It was now 13:25z.
The route to Mynydd Mawr took us up a track over the narrow gauge railway, a couple of hundred metres beyond which we struck off right up the well-signed footpath into the forest. The ascent within the forest was quite steep and although we were in shade it was now rather hot and we regularly had to pause for breath and to take on water. At one point we were challenged by a Wren which decided to warn us off its territory by flying across the front of our legs – quite charming. The forest is substantially Larch and we had to take care to avoid the dead lower branches. The path was also quite boggy in places and nearing the far edge of the forest it descended into a clearing before going out into open field via a stile. We then tracked around the northern edge of the mountain roughly on the 300m contour before the track swung left to head sharply uphill. I had mobile phone coverage so I posted a progress report on SOTAwatch, though this proved to be rather optimistic, but at least it did inform chasers of our intended summit and to expect us – sometime!
Once on the steeper section of the ascent, my legs started to give up. I could only manage short stints and had to keep stopping. An abandoned copper mine provided a brief distraction at around the 450m level. Higher up, we struck off right towards where the summit seemed to be, although we were not able to see the actual summit until we were quite close. Paul went ahead on the last section to reconnoitre the area. As he would be using HF from this summit, he decided the grass below the rock field at the summit would provide him with a more comfortable operating position. I opted to use one of the stone shelters close to the summit cairn.
Since we were almost an hour later than planned, my first action was to give an update on our activity and I posted Paul for 60m SSB. Paul found George GI4SRQ waiting on FE at 15:53z and a few minutes later Don G0RQL followed by Robin GM7PKT made contact. The skip was obviously long on the band and after quite a while calling without a response, Paul decided to move to 60m, though he had to use 3.661MHz where Graham G3OHC found him. The change of band was posted by Peter ON3WAB – many thanks! Andy MM0USU was second in the log on 80m and the one to place an accurate spot for Paul. In all 6 made the log for 80m.
After spotting Paul, I set up for 2m and 70cms in the knowledge that I had also alerted my imminent appearance on my usual operating frequency. Graham G4JZF was first in the queue and the one to spot me. Don G0RQL followed and we moved up to 70cms where signals were found to be considerably down on 2m. Graham G4JZF and Roger G0TRB also looked for me on 70cms, but were not able to hear me. I returned to 2m at 16:07z to work Roger and then a steady run ensued. Several said that they would look for me on 70cms and I was later able to have a very pleasant contact with Jim EI3GE on SSB and make contact with Graham G3OHC and Frank G3RMD on CW. After working Frank, I switched back to SSB and did a 360 degree sweep of the beam, did the same on 433.500MHz using FM and then returned to 144.333MHz and did the same – the result: no further contacts. So it was down with the beam and up with the HF dipole to see whether 10MHz was working. 10.118MHz was occupied by an Italian station, so I moved up to 10.120MHz and called CQ and at the same time prepared a spot. Kaja OK2BEI was first in the log and afterwards Laci HA7UG, Peder SM0GNS and Dominique F6HIA made contact before the frequency became unusable due to heavy QRM. As it was getting quite late, I decided it was not practical to find a clear frequency and re-spot, so I went QRT - apologies to anyone who was looking for me.
I switched off at 17:20z and we were ready to make the descent at 17:34z. I got something right on my itinerary – the descent time which I had estimated as being 1 hour and 25 minutes. The sun was now behind cloud, but it still warm, so we kept our water bottles close to allow us to keep hydrated. There were biting midges at the car and we both took some hits before we were ready for the off at 19:06z. Even at this relatively late hour, things weren’t going to go smoothly and there were delays en route which made us late back at Stourbridge, indeed it was 21:58z by the time we arrived. After unpacking Paul’s kit and transferring mine to my car, a cup of coffee, a brief chat and more delay on the M6, I eventually arrived home spot on 00:00z, two hours later than planned. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to get to sleep once I got to bed.
Thanks as usual to everyone we worked, especially to those that spotted us. Particular thanks to those that came onto 70cms SSB / CW to make my day – both summits qualified on the band – brilliant! Overall it was a super day with the rewards hard won and one which was very satisfying.
73 to all,
Distance walked - 11.4km. Time taken - 7 hrs 15 mins. Total ascent - 1221m
Mileage driven - total 413 miles (672km). Time taken - 8 hrs 54 mins
Water consumed - 4 litres each.
GW4MD/P 2m SSB – 18;
GW4OIG/P 2m SSB – 5, 70cms SSB – 8, 70cms CW – 1, 70cms FM – 3, 23cms FM – 1
GW4MD/P 60m SSB – 3, 80m SSB – 6
GW4OIG/P 2m SSB – 12, 70cms SSB – 2, 70cms CW – 2, 30m CW - 4