What a wild weekend of SOTA fun - GW4BML/p in GW/NW land

Activation report - Saturday 28th January 2023

SOTA summits completed:

Elidir Fawr GW/NW-005
Y Garn GW/NW-004
Glyder Fawr GW/NW-003
Tryfan GW/NW-006
Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013

by @GW4BML/p Ben

2002m of ascent
2135m of descent
19 miles covered

The route:

What a SOTA adventure - that’s all I can say!

Ring ring went the alarm clock at 3am on Saturday morning. I rolled out of bed, had a quick bite to eat and I was on the road by 03:20 UTC heading towards GW/NW for a big SOTA day. I arrived in the midst of all the big mountains in the Ogwen valley and parked up in a car park beside Llyn Ogwen. A good friend of mine Aled @MW0UPH picked me up and drove to the start of my adventure (thank you very much Aled - I owe you one :beer:

I began my hike by walking up the tarmac road beside Dinorwig quarry looking for the summit of ‘Elidir Fawr’ GW/NW-005 in the pitch dark and misty air.

You couldn’t see much in front of your nose especially at 06:00 UTC in the morning, although the lights were shining pretty bright from the city of Bangor. I stuck to the speed limit which slowed me down :rofl:

I reached the reservoir pumping station which was lit up as per normal and I veered left up the steep climb to hit the boulder field. Now this was lethal, the rocks and boulders were extremely slippy, if I didn’t have my mini crampons with me, I would never of made it!

Nevertheless, I reached the cairn on top and used that as my antenna mast. Unfortunately most bands were closed, but I did manage 2 contacts on 145-FM, one with John @GW4ZPL and a S2S with Matthew @M0MZB/p who was activating the SOTA summit of ‘Robinson’ G/LD-021 in the Lake District. At least I wasn’t the only one on a mountain at 06:45 UTC in the morning :slight_smile: thanks Matthew!

I moved over to 5-CW and worked a further 5 stations with Phil @G4OBK and Lar’s @SA4BLM booming in! Happy days, I’d qualified the summit pretty fast considering it was very early in the morning!

I packed up shop and headed down from Elidir Fawr to meet the path that takes me over to my next summit ‘Y Garn’ GW/NW-004. Again, this was very slippy in places, so my mini crampons certainly had to work for there money! Not many views on this trek due to the mist, but when I reached the summit I found myself above the clouds and mist which enabled me to watch the sun rise - good times :slight_smile:

It was very quiet on the summit, no-one in sight, so I managed to set up my equipment using the cairn as my office. Put a call out on 145-FM first and worked 7 stations with one being a S2S from Matthew M0MZB/p who was just packing up to descent his summit. I moved over to 5-CW and worked a further 9 stations and then WOW, I called out on 7-SSB and had a brilliant pile-up adding another 29 stations to my log - great start to the morning and there was more to come! A summit selfie had to be taken:

After dropping my mast, I had a quick drink and then found myself plodding through a few snow fields on my descent of Y Garn. I reached the col to find the lake between ‘Y Garn’ and my next summit ‘Glyder Fawr’ GW/NW-003 frozen over.

Now came the hard work, climbing up the scree to summit the Glyders :see_no_evil: it was a brutal pull to the top, especially with all the snow and frozen rocks/boulders not making it easy for me!

Anyhow, I reached the top to find no-one in sight, I had the whole summit of ‘Glyder Fawr’, Wale’s and England’s third highest peak to myself! In no time, the Elecraft KX2 was out of my bag and connected to the EFHW antenna on my 6m carbon pole held up by a few rocks just below the summit:

I began calling CQ SOTA on 5-CW working 5 stations, then moved over to 7-SSB and again what a fantastic reply I had entering a further 38 stations into my log! This really was turning out to be a great trip! After my final calls, I had a quick flask coffee, packed away everything and made my way to the nastiest peak in GW - ‘Tryfan’ GW/NW-006.

On my way, I passed a few more snow fields and noticed ‘Castell y Gwynt’ looked quite a spooky place in the mist and there was no queues for the canon on ‘Glyder Fach’, maybe this had something to do with the wx?!? haha:

I descended the Glyders down the scree, it was far to risky to cross Bristly Ridge, although I could here voices up there, so people were doing it!

It wasn’t long before I was at bwlch Tryfan looking up at the rocks - it looks a beast from a distance! I put my head down and off I plodded up up and up!

I reached the top of ‘Tryfan’ GW/NW-006, popped my head over the last row of rocks to find Adam and Eve crowded, so I sheltered from the wind and out of the public eye just below the top rocks.
Just before I began setting up, I heard Allan @GW4VPX putting final calls out on 145-FM from Plynlimon GW/MW-001, so I quickly grabbed my hand-held and we made a S2S contact - thanks Allan. Shortly after in came Viki @M6BWA/p and Rod @M0JLA/p who were also out in Mid-Wales on my local home 2 pointer ‘Pegan Mawr’ GW/MW-006, we managed to make S2S contacts - thanks both :slight_smile:
It then took me some time to set up for HF on ‘Tryfan’ because of it’s extremely rocky surface, but I managed to wrap my EFHW ends around a few boulders and get my office in order:

I began calling on 5-CW managing to work 7 stations itl with a lot of passers by asking me what I was doing…. so sorry if I took a little while replying on CW, questions were being fired at me left right and centre (I thought I had hidden enough out of the public eye - obviously not, haha) I then flicked over to 7-SSB and found a free frequency and spotted, all I can say is…. my poor Elecraft KX2 speaker took a right hammering :rofl: adding a further 28 stations to my log which including a S2S with Martin @2E0BIA/p who was on the Gun G/SP-013….YES I SAID ’THE GUN’ NOT SHINING TOUR :rofl: was great to get you itl for the first time in 2023 buddy - hope you enjoyed your holiday!

While I was half way through a great pile-up on 40m, the RAF rescue helicopter came within 50 yards of me hovering over the north ridge of ‘Tryfan’. A few people had got stuck on the North ridge of the summit, but everyone was ok I have been told - so sorry for the noise over the airways. I quickly packed up, took in the amazing views of the Carneddau range and made my way back to the truck - you don’t realise how happy I was to see my vehicle! Haha:

A 10 minute drive down the road and I was parked up ready to start summit number 5 ‘Pen Llithrig y Wrach’ GW/NW-013. This route I took isn’t too bad at the start until you reach the col…… you walk through a rather boggy field, crossing two small bridges and your at the col - what a horrible sight it was to see the summit top in the distance that high up :see_no_evil:

I just kept telling myself, you can do this!! After half an hour, I was practically on the top surrounded by heavy mist and fog where cramp started to give me jip! I only had 100 yards left to enter the AZ, I was determined to drag myself up there! I lay on the floor for 5 minutes rolling around trying to shake it off, just enough to get me over the line - it worked :ok_hand:

I took my time setting up, having to guide my pole this time with pegs - there’s no rocks for support on top of ‘Pen Llithrig y Wrach’ like the other 4 previous mountains. I started off by making two S2S contacts on 145-FM with Viki & Rod who had moved over to GW/MW-009 Beacon Hill. I then put a call out on 5-CW and worked 9 more stations itl, and finished my day off on 7-SSB with a lovely pile-up ending with a further 27 stations to add to my log.

It was a slow descent, but happy to find the truck where I left it and headed for home.

I then decided to activate ‘Manod Mawr’ GW/NW-035 the day after to stretch the legs. Nice walk up to the cairn where I worked 1 station on 145-FM, 5 stations on 5-CW and 25 on 7-SSB.

What a fantastic SOTA weekend had - especially Saturday where I managed to gain 55 activator points and give out a possible 40 chaser points :slight_smile: I had multiple stations call into me from 4 out of the 5 summits I activated and I ended my weekend entering 206 contacts into my log - manually, hahaaa.

I’d like to thank everyone from this SOTA community for your support - I had a cracking day in the mountains and spoke to so many amazing friends on the radio - great times!

Until the next time, 73, GW4BML/p Ben


What an amazing achievement! Many congratulations.

Do you have extra warm clothing to put on when you reach a summit? I’m wondering how you balance the clothing you need during the ascent with what you need when static?

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What a fantastic outing. Now I know how you became MG so quickly!


Wow, what an epic weekend of SOTA! Thanks for the brilliant report and beautiful photos. Hope you’re managing to put your feet up today!

73, Matthew

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What a brilliant report and day Ben, I did a lump of that walk 30+ years ago on my ML assessment and as I read through I was thinking “I could just about still do that” until you added that fifth summit. It is a very long time since I did Tryfan - am I roughly right in thinking that if approached from the col at Bwlch Tryfan it isn’t really any more difficult than the main route up say Great Gable?.. am hoping to do some of those - rather more slowly this summer. Thanks. Paul

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Hi John @M0WIV,

On a big day like the weekend, my bag is usually full of clothing with the bear minimum radio gear :slight_smile: I have my red Lhotse Mountain Equipment water and windproof jacket that I wear most of the time when hiking… under this I wear a Rab fleeced line jacket with a Smartwool merino wool underlayer. When I summit, depending how cold it is… I have a Canada Goose gilet that I put over my Lhotse to help keep me warm, or if its extremely cold, I take the Lhotse off and replace it with my Rab down jacket. I have not yet froze on a high summit, even with -18 windchill calling out CQ SOTA for 45 minutes :slight_smile: my gloves are from Sealskinz, although I may need to replace these as my fingers do get cold on times! I sometimes wear Smartwool underwear trousers, but didn’t this weekend, with my walking trousers over top and then my waterproof leggings over these.

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Thanks Richard @G4TGJ - it was great to chase you on CW for the first time last week :slight_smile:

Many congratulations and thanks fpr nice activation report. 73 Klaus

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Hi Ben,

i was pleased to catch you on 5 CW and 7 SSB on Pen Llithrig. As seems to be my habit, I was out of the shack the rest of day and also on Sunday, much as I am for most of Fraser’s activations when he’s doing a round! I must try harder.

Well done on activating so many summits in one day. Pity about the cramp, especially with GW/NW-028 so close. Your photos brought back many happy memories of my days on those hills. :grinning:

73, Gerald

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Thank you for the kind words @M0JSB Matthew, unfortunately I’ve been in the office today, but certainly resting tonight :grinning: take care.

73, GW4BML. Ben

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A grand day out Ben! What about the Welshcakes? Were they not on the menu?


Epic day out, all in winter too. Pictures reminded me of the summits I tackled in pairs, I had never been fit enough to even contemplate doing them all in one go.

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Hello Ben, thanks for sharing your great report and photos. A good read and very interesting. :+1:

Geoff vk3sq

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Now I’ve got that song “the day we went to Bangor” locked in my brain. Fiddler’s Dram 1979, just yesterday really.

Amazing photos. Well done,

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


Thanks Paul @G4IPB - it certainly was a great day out :slight_smile: it was good to work you from a few. Yes, your right in saying the col at Bwlch Tryfan is very similar to the main Great Gable path, maybe Tryfan has more nasty rocks rather than scree like GG. In the summer, the route should be much dryer and a lot less slippy - you’d of thought, but we are in Wales, hahaa.

73, GW4BML. Ben

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Thank you very much Klaus - it was a challenging but great day had.

I packed a good thick stew instead of Welsh cakes on this hike - something to warm me up on the top :slight_smile: I’m sure I’d of squeezed one more summit in if I’d of taken the good old Welsh cakes, haha - deffo next time! Thanks buddy :+1:

It certainly was epic, and the views in winter are sometimes the best, especially when your above the mist with the sun shining down on you. Thanks for the kind words :slight_smile:

Hi Geoff, your very welcome - another fab day had in the Welsh mountains :slight_smile: thank you! 73


Thank you very much Andrew - looking forward to another early morning S2S DX party soon when conditions improve - be good to get another contact over the big pond :+1: 73

Hi Gerald @G4OIG,

It was great to get you from my last summit, Pen Llithrig y Wrach. Hahaa, there’s no need to try harder, we all have other things to do on times.

Don’t mention Creigiau Gleision, it was looking up at me laughing, although I couldn’t see much due to the mist and fog surrounding me. I had plenty of time left, so I should of tried it, never mind - maybe next year I’ll do that and Carnedd Llywelyn too, hi!

Take care and 73, GW4BML. Ben

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Very well executed Ben, great to work you on 60m from Northumberland. I have walked all that but still two to activate. I enjoyed the chase.
It was interesting for me to see 60m propagation changing through the day.
Great job and blessed with the wx.
MG-CW another great leap nearer.

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Funny you mentioned Welsh Cakes as I discovered them after I had done the Glyders walk. I had to book a taxi back to where you started your walk Ben, to collect my car and return to the Youth Hostel below Tryfan, and I needed sandwiches for the next day’s SOTA walk, so I asked the taxi driver to drop me off at petrol station to buy one. I saw a pack of Welsh Cakes on the counter and got them for dessert. I have eaten them since, whenever I can, but they aren’t available in Yorkshire. Having a Welsh son-in-law living local helps though. His parents bring a tin of them up to Yorkshire when they visit so we get some of them and also some Bara Brith cake as well.

Well done on what was a challenging winter SOTA walk.

73 Phil G4OBK


A challenging route in summer, so well done on doing this in wintery conditions partially in the dark. :+1:
Great pictures to accompany the trip report; I got cramp just reading it. :grinning:

Speak soon!
73, Robert