Today I made my second venture in GW/SW land - tackling Pen-Y-Fan (GW/SW-001). As Martin (2E0BIA) has a lead on the number of VK QSOs this year (another of our silly competitions), and as the weather was looking better early doors, I started this one at silly o’clock - 6 a.m. As 8 pointers go, this was a pretty easy summit,; still I didn’t arrive until way after 7 a.m. Sadly I had missed the window for.a VK QSO, so I set about building my home for the next few hours - a DD tarps pyramid tent - on a rather pleasant but cloudy summit.
Being the biggest summit in the Brecon Beacons (South Wales), Pen-Y-Fan attracts the fitness types, and lots of retired squaddies. So throughout the day, I spent a considerable amount of time fielding questions form military sounding chaps who usually began the conversation with. "You’re doing HF, right ?. After one very interesting conversation with a pair of ex-special forces chaps, who recalled the day they were “doing HF” while being shot at, I was approached by a rather pompous gentleman, who began by demanding to know what I was doing.(demanding rather than asking). It was by now pissing it down so I did my bit for the cause, and explained what SOTA was all about from the relative comfort of my nice dry tent. Some time later he went away satisfied I would ask permission next time, but very much wetter.
By now I had bagged myself a lot of QSOs.and S2S, so as I had started the day at some ungodly hour, I found myself having what my better half likes to call a unscheduled Nana nap. Half an hour later I was abruptly woken by my walking pole, which had for most of the day been holding up the tent, but had now decided to throw in the towel. The wind outside had gone from brisk to hurricane force in less than 30 minutes (while I was off duty), and had flattened the tent with me in it. i therefore extracted myself as eloquently as one could from the ditritus around me (tent, ruck sack, batteries and radio), quickly packed away and made a hasty retreat.
By now the wind was something I have not experienced for a long time, and I descended Pen-Y-Fan keeping as far away from the ridge edges as possible - for fear of being blown over, or worse blown off. After a descent of about 150m.or there abouts, I came across a young lad struggling in the conditions; trying to make progress up to the summit with rather large rucksack. He saw me coming down, and so approached me to enquire how far it was to the top. He looked absolutely terrified, and after chatting to him for a while to check he was ok, it turned out his “mates” had left him behind. I asked him if he had a map, and whether he knew where he was going. He didn’t and so asked me if it was ok if he could come back down with me.
This he did and I’m glad to say we managed to get in touch with his mates to let them know he was ok…Some.mates hey!
Anyway, despite the challenging weather, pompous warden and abandoned walker, it was a very successful day… 101 QSOs, 4 bands (6m, 2m, 40m, 15m and 20m) , 8.activator points and 56 S2S. However next time, I’ll pick a better day…
P S. Has anyone else been confronted by a ranger/warden in the Brecom beacons and is it necessary to seek permission - from the National trust I think he said.