Well done, Carolyn!

Congratulations, Carolyn, on activating GW/SW-011 in a blizzard today! Thanks for the points … it was a new Unique for me!

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3NYY:
I was looking at SOTA today and could not believe that Carolyn was out. So a very well done. I think extra bonus points should be awarded.


Brian M0OYG

In reply to G3NYY:

Hi Walt and Brian

Yesterday wasn’t as fool hardy as it seemed, I was with company (my walking companion Bea), well prepared for the conditions, and had chosen a (relatively) easy hill. The forecast (for what it is) was for snow/sleet in the morning clearing in the afternoon for the area of the Black mountains we intended to walk and the worst of the snow to be more towards Bristol.

I was late leaving home because I’d not quite got everything organised and couldn’t find the aqua-pack for my GPSr. The roads were clear and we didn’t see any real snow till we reached Leominster where it was quite heavy but cleared by the time we reached Hereford. Abergavenny was clear but all the surrounding hills had on their winter overcoats and looked beautiful. The lane up to the parking spot, at the south of Sugar Loaf, was easily passable with a few ordinary cars in the car parks. We were in a 4x4 just in case conditions changed to be worse than expected.

Sugar Loaf has been a hill I’ve wanted to do for ages but was just waiting for the opportunity to do it in the winter. From the south car park it is just under a 3km walk on well defined tracks which was easy to follow even with snow cover. Our walk started in sunshine but by half way the clouds had begun to close in. it wasn’t too long after that the snow started one or two flakes at first which soon became thicker. The path starts of gentle (after an initial steep bit up from the car park with was very icy) and then gradually gets quite a bit steeper the closer you get to the summit. At about 800m from the trig point the snow really started falling heavily and visibility dropped to 20-ish metres but undeterred we pressed on. We quickly learnt not to walk on the flat fresh snow because underneath it was sheet ice so we kept to the edges where the plants were which made progress a little more strenuous but far safer.

We eventually reached the summit with snow still falling and quickly looked around for somewhere to shelter. Just a few meters away from the trig point we found a lovely spot out of the wind, popped up my brolly decided it was a good spot and began sorting out the equipment.

There wasn’t too much wind to contend with but trying to find places to peg the antenna legs in the frozen summit in a blizzard proved difficult. Once the antenna was sorted the “shack” was prepared. I had already decided it was going to be a one-band activation on 60m so there was no need to get out my amplifier or the batteries. I initially started on the 817’s internal batteries running full power reasoning that there wouldn’t be too many people expecting any activations today. First call was answered by Frank (G3RMD) who kindly spotted me then a short lull before the usual suspects started to call in. The internal battery lasted 15 minutes before the radio began complaining which happen to coincide with my contact with Rob (G4RQJ) who was having problems of his own. One of my 7Ah slabs ( I’ve now got Li-Pos on order after nagging from John, Gerald and Paul :o) was quickly connected to finish the activation as the snow was falling so heavily that visibility had dropped to a white-out 5 metres. Not wanting to say too long just in case conditions really were going to get far worse I reluctantly said I was going to close down and pack things away after making 21 contacts. Typically the radio was back in its waterproof bag and in the rucksack when the snow stopped and the clouds cleared enough to begin seeing other hills. I could’ve easily got the radio back out but had other plans. As the weather looked like it was going to clear up a little as forecast we decided to try another hill.

The original idea was to do two hills but by starting out far later it didn’t seem feasible with the lack of daylight hours; the second hill was going to be Coity Mountain (GW/SW-012). As the weather seemed to be improving we decided to go and have a look and at least find suitable parking spots and the beginning of the foot paths. Reading about the access to this hill every one seemed to agree that it wasn’t going to be the nicest of walks but the route we chose wasn’t too bad. I knew light was going to be an issue and we discussed walking off the summit in the dark (something we’ve done before) if the path up was ok. The track I chose starts just past the end of the Pontypool and Blaenavon railway and follows a diagonal route to the plateau. The climb up was hard work because with each step we broke through the snows thin crust. Eventually we reached the top and were greeted by a spectacular arctic landscape lit by bright sunshine. Walking on semi frozen snow where each step sank knee deep made progress painfully slow in more ways than one and to get to the real summit wasn’t going to be quick so decided not to do it. I wasn’t too disappointed as I managed to get a couple of good pictures and now know what the hill is like for another try sometime.

The trip home was uneventful with clear roads till we got to Tenbury Wells where they were just a bit slushy. All in all a good day out which has added to my experience of being out on the hills in poor conditions. By the way we carry at least two GPS units with us when conditions are marginal; one with full OS mapping and at least one laying bread crumbs and both of us can navigate with a map/compass as a back-up if required and were reasonably well equipped between us for the prevailing conditions.

I far prefer being out in the cold and snow than torrential rain :o)


Pictures on Flickr Carolyn | Flickr