Activation report - Saturday 28th January 2023
SOTA summits completed:
Elidir Fawr GW/NW-005
Y Garn GW/NW-004
Glyder Fawr GW/NW-003
Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013
by @GW4BML/p Ben
2002m of ascent
2135m of descent
19 miles covered
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
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
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 thanks Matthew!
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
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 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
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 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 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
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
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 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