Wintry SOTA on GW/SW-002 & GW/SW-041

Saturday 13th January 2024

Yesterday was one of those days where I couldn’t resist the lure of SOTA! So, at about 0900 I found myself parked up at Gospel Pass in South Wales, ready for a full day out on the mountains.

Frost and mist was the order of the day as I started my walk to GW/SW-002 via Twmpa. Quite a magical atmosphere.

There was no change in conditions by the time I reached the summit of Waun Fach, GW/SW-002. As I started to set up for some hf, I heard Viki @M6BWA, calling on 2m FM from GW/SW-014 who I was pleased to work for a S2S and a complete.

Then it was back to the task of trying setup my hf linked dipole! With the frozen ground it was extremely difficult to get the tent pegs for my pole support lines into the ground. I just about managed in the end! Using the SW-3B I had a nice number of contacts using cw on 40m & 30m including a S2S with @EA2WX from EA2/BI-055. The wind really picked up during my activation, and by the end my hands started to struggle with the morse sending in the freezing conditions. I had also had a moment of complete brain freeze where I just couldn’t pick out any of the callsigns calling me during the pile-up.I got there in the end though.

As I started packing-up, I was surprised to see that my antenna and pole had completely iced-up!

I was very cold by this stage, so was pleased to get moving and start the walk towards Black Mountain, GW/SW-041 which saw me retracing my steps to my car and then ascending the other side of the valley.

During my walk the frost and mist started to clear, and had completely gone by the time I got to Black Mountain.

After arriving at the summit I was able to grab a S2S with James, MW7ETJ/P who was on GW/SW-002 where I’d activated from earlier, and another one with Viki who was on GW/SW-012 this time.

Thankfully the ground was much softer compared to the morning, so I had a much easier time setting up my linked dipole. Despite a lot of contest traffic, I enjoyed a nice run of contacts on 40m cw. This included a S2S with Colm @EI9KY who was on his MG activation on EI/IS-049. Congratulations Colm! My hands once again started to struggle with the cold by the time I finished my run on 40, so I left it there without trying any other bands. I was able to grab a final S2S on 2m though with Jared @2E0JFJ who was on GW/MW-038.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the fading light on my way back to the car.

A great day of SOTA. Tough at times with the cold, but a great feeling of achievement by the end. Just fantastic to escape the real world and spend the day in some magical mountain scenery.

Big thanks to all the chasers. Especially those on cw who patiently repeated their callsigns until I got them right! :crazy_face:

Already looking forward to next time!

73, Matthew M(W)0JSB

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Well done Matthew and thanks for the S2S QSO, I had similar problems on my first summit of the day (Plynlimon) and was also quite surprised to see ice on my linked dipole and my pole! Was a bit worried about the pole elements resizing when the ice thawed but luckily I got most out.

2E0JFJ

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Great to speak yesterday and glad your pole was ok!

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Well done Matthew and thanks for the pictures - and the 4 s2s!! Gosh it looked cold on the first hill, glad we were on a smaller summit GW/SW-014 above Brynmawr where everything was frosty for the walk up but almost competely gone on the way down although I hadn’t noticed it getting warmer when sitting on the hill! Good to get you from our respective second hills - ncie timing. Look forward to the next s2s but any snow is usually a ‘no no’ for me! BTW I spoke to someone else on Waun Fach from Coity Mt - he didn’t find it quite so cold by then!!
73 Viki M6BWA

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Thanks Viki. It’s always satisfying when the S2S timings work out, which they did perfectly this time! GW/SW-002 was certainly one of my colder activations so far! I think it was James, MW7ETJ/P who you worked on GW/SW-002 later on. I also worked him for a S2S and he did indeed confirm that conditions had improved.

Looking forward to our next S2S & 73…

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Very Well Done Matthew. Thank You for the Photographs and Excellent Report. Makes me feel COLD just reading the Report. It was Great for me to get into Your Log on Both Summits. Especially with My Very Bad CW. Many Thanks to You my friend. 73 de Paul M0CQE.

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Thanks Paul! It’s always lovely to get you in the log, and your cw was just fine! I had no problems (beyond my own limitations with cw!) copying you. Thanks as ever for all of your chases, and I look forward to our next QSO sometime soon.

73, Matthew

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I remember Richard @G4ERP enthusing about this traverse between GW/SW-002 amd GW/SW-041 from Gospel Pass. It’s a walk I’ve been meaning to try for many years, but not got around to it yet! Probably try it when it’s a bit warmer though :wink:

Paul @M0CQE - I agree with Matthew. Your CW might not “cut it” for contesting or conversation, but it is more than good enough for SOTA chasing. In fact the distinctive way you send the ‘QE’ makes it easy to pull you out of a pile-up! Give me someone who is developing their CW having a go over someone who won’t use it on the air until they’re fluent at 30wpm any day!

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It makes for a great day of walking on the mountains, and although it’s a long route to GW/SW-002, there aren’t too many steep sections. In relative terms anyway!

Definitely this!

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Many thanks Matthew and Tom. I do appreciate Your Kind words. As You may know I have a problem which make reading CW very difficult for me. Also sending is now not easy due to Old Age etc. Your encouraging words will help me to continue trying to improve my CW. Thank You Both. 73 de Paul M0CQE.

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The way I see it is that we’re all here to learn and improve our skills. My cw is far from perfect, and I frequently have brain freezes during pile-ups where I can’t make any callsigns out at all! I had several on Saturday!

If we’re not prepared to make mistakes or challenge ourselves, we will never improve!

I was just having a quick look at my activator statistics, and I see you are 4th on the list of my most frequent chasers, so thank YOU for all of the QSOs along the way!

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How did you collapse it? I’ve been tenting overnight when this has happened to me so had the stove to heat water to melt it / free it up.

I have considered other sources of warm liquid if this ever happens when I have no stove, but thankfully have never had to test the idea!

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Ah, perhaps I over dramatised it! I was only on the summit for around 45 minutes, so I was able to knock most of the ice off. It was only a thin layer! A couple of sections were reluctant to collapse, but I got there after a couple of determined twists!

73, Matthew

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Hi Matthew @M0JSB

Great report and very nice images of your latest SOTA activations. Shame that timing didn’t work out for a S2S on the day. Whilst the temperatures were just below freezing, I think the wind chill factor played a role especially at the summit. Freezing fog/mist added to the fun!

You must have read too many reports on here… :wink:

73, Robert
M0RWX

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Thanks Robert. Yes, the freezing fog all added to the atmosphere. I actually found walking conditions to be fine as generally winds weren’t too strong. It was only on the summit that things became slightly less pleasant.

Sorry to miss a potential S2S. I knew you were about, but I think by the time you time you had started calling, I was swiftly heading for the exit door!

You might just be right…

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Great report Matthew and an attractive route combining the two summits.

I really relate to your description of brain freeze. Kurt Zoglmann described it as cognitive overload, in a recent interview.

@M0CQE you’re always welcome in my log and you’re distinctive call makes it easy to pick out from a pile up.

73, Kevin

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A mentor of mine, long since passed away, always used to say “the man who never made a mistake never made anything”. I’ve taken it to heart making mistakes as often as I can :wink:

Likewise I’ve thought this maybe needed on more than one occasion. I’ve not needed to try that method yet!

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Thanks Kevin!

A perfect description of me trying to cope with a cw pile-up!

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