Windy... problems... and first FT8 contact from a summit

Activation report of ‘Arenig Fawr’ GW/NW-011

Saturday morning 12th November:

Mr Brown

Well, the morning didn’t start off so good…. but did improve as time passed by!

I had alerted the SOTA summit of ‘Arenig Fawr’ GW/NW-011 for Saturday morning just gone. I left the home QTH at 05:00 UTC and headed for North Wales with my faithful companion who has come out of retirement :grinning: Mr Brown!

It took 1 hour 30 minutes to reach our destination which was a grassy stone track with enough room for a couple of vehicles to park. Having been 06:30 UTC in the morning, Mr Brown and myself were the only couple to be there, so we had plenty of room to ditch the disco!

I gathered my stuff together while Mr Brown wet the gate post and we were then off to go go go. The moon was shining bright in the sky which lit up the off road farm track we needed to follow, this helped dramatically.

It looks as if a lot of water has been running down this track since the last time I was here resulting in stones sticking up and track corrosion here and there! Not good in the pitch dark :see_no_evil:

After a mile of walking, we veered off left and began the horrible steep ascent to the Arenig Fawr ridge way. Even though Mr Brown hasn’t been out for a long time, he was certainly leading the way :rofl: it took just over an hour and we were close to the summit trig with limited views due to the heavy missed and cloud in the air.

I dumped my bag in the Cairn, and went to set my antenna up. Not the best start to the morning when the wind was howling which ended up blowing my 6m tactical mini pole over onto a rock and snapping it right in the centre :see_no_evil: bugger I said!!! (and a few other words :rofl:) now all I had was a 3m snapped pole to use, and in all fairness after wrapping the EFHW around the top to stabilise it, it worked pretty well.

I began by calling out on 60m using the KX2, 10w into the EFHW and managed a nice small pile up with 9 itl. I then moved over to 40m which was working well and added another 20 stations to my log. Switched over to 20m which was a little quieter but did result in adding a further 9 stations.

Finished off voice on 2m FM and only worked 4 itl.

Right, it was time to try something different for a change…… Tom @M1EYP had arranged a data modes FT4/8 event for this morning, so I thought I’d take part. Out came the Icom 705, mini USB lead and laptop - my rucksack was slightly heavier today :rofl: I configured everything on summit and loan behold, it worked!!

My second contact was Canada, not bad going hey! :grinning:

I must admit this isn’t my cup of tea, but I do like to try everything out and will definitely have ago again! One benefit was I could make my breakfast with two hands while working the world and qualifying the summit with ease, hi!

I managed to work 10 stations on FT8 data mode, had a massive pile up but time was pushing on, so I had to leave - sorry to anyone from the SOTA community who was trying to work me, I’d been on summit for 2 hours and it was cold!

Unfortunately I didn’t work any S2S stations on data mode this time, but that will happen again in the future :blush:

I packed all my equipment away and Mr Brown and myself made for our descent. Just as we were leaving the col, the Snowdonia sky’s cleared and it looked like a beautiful day was ahead of us.

I’d like to thank everyone from the SOTA community who called into my station - great support as per normal! I look forward to making the contact again soon :grinning:

Until next time, 73, GW4BML/p. Ben & Mr Brown


Hi Ben

I tried FT modes from the summits a few times but didn’t enjoy it as much as from home. But the big difference was in the received SNR’s - as you will have seen they can be sometimes 20dB better than my home station with the ever present electronic hash.



Thanks for the report, an interesting read. :slight_smile: I think most of us on summits that morning were using 20m FT4. The 20m band was also open to VK but not, at least for me, open to North America although clearly 40m was.



Thanks for the contact Ben on 60m. Good to see Mr. Brown out and about again. Great photos and report as usual.

73 Allan.


No, you had two 3m poles, one for each end of the wire! I managed to tread on my pole on Holyhead Mountain GW/NW-069 so my EFHW wire was just trailed over the gorse bushes. Still managed 19 QSOs on 40 and 20m CW.


I’ve also had to run my linked di-pole and EFHW across the floor to make contacts due to heavy winds and received nice pile-ups on SSB. There’s a little difference between Hollyhead Mountain and Arenig Fawr, that is over 630m of ascent - so not as easy to prop two 3m poles up, especially when one is no ticker than your middle toe! :slight_smile: but I’m used to the conditions, so it was all good :+1:


It was very windy on Holyhead Mountain so I was trying to find shelter just down from the summit but didn’t have much space to work in, hence stepping on the pole. That was just over a year ago and I now have a tarp and many more activations under my belt so I don’t think it would cause me too much trouble now. But, as you say, another 630m would make a lot of difference.


Hi Rick,

I’m in the same boat as yourself but would like to try it again soon! I did find a big difference on receive, stations were very strong. It was good to make the contact as well!

73, GW4BML. Ben

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I suppose you’d have the sea wind there with you as well. The main thing is you created a solution and it worked by qualifying the summit.

Thanks John - I wanted to try 20m but due to my pole snapping, the SWR on 20m was over 2.0 and with a constant carrier for 15 seconds, I didn’t want to risk it! The 705 has no internal tuner so I was doomed. On 40m the SWR was 1.5, so all good to go! I was happy with Canada and a few chasers :slight_smile:

73, GW4BML. Ben


Your very welcome Allan, always a pleasure working you! Mr Brown really enjoyed himself, so he’ll hopefully join me on a few through-out winter :slight_smile: Thank you for the kind words!

73, GW4BML. Ben


Hi Ben,
I noticed that you have put up an alert for Saturday for GM/WS-003 and GM/WS-001. It might be a bit cold and windy up there this weekend as well. I might try and S2S from one of the lower summits, GM/SS-176 if I can get organised.


Hi Andy @MM7MOX,

Yes I’ve alerted both summits but I’m watching the wx like a hawk! So far it seems to be improving nicely:

So there is an 80% chance I will be making the 8 hour drive up North this Friday afternoon and starting the route early Saturday morning :grinning: it would be great to make a S2S!

If I cancel due to wx conditions, I’ll delete my alert on Thursday evening.

73, GW4BML. Ben