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Wrekin in the Fog :(

Just a quickie to say thanks to those stations who chased me earlier today on a very damp, dank and rather cold Wrekin G/WB-010.

I must investigate better walking clothing as I find that I sweat alot going up (as I’m rather round), only to get very cold, very quickly once on the top.

Any ideas about suitable gear?

An hours activation just on 2m (ssb and fm) as I have snapped my fishing pole I use for HF. Thanks to:-
GW8MLA,M0JLA, G0TRB, G3SMT, G0RQL (sitting under his palm tree enjoying the Devon sun), G4XEE (S2S), GW7AAV, G6ODU, G8XYJ, G3XQE, M0TBC, M1EYP, 2E0CHO, G8OGI/M, 2E0XYL, G0LGS and M3WFB/P who was out walking his dog…

Due to work commitments I have hardly done any radio since the Spring - so it was nice to be out and about having a bit of ‘me time’. Hopefully get to do a bit more this coming winter.

Thanks again,

73’s

John

In reply to G1STQ:

Hi John

Nice to work you again today.

Layering is the answer (in my case many of them at the summit). We find it’s a start with a couple of layers in winter, strip off after a bit of exertion. Pile most layers on at the summit fairly quickly as we cool down quite rapidly (with something like a primaloft or down jacket in reserve). It’s a lot more difficult to get warm again after the cold has really got to you. Start rapid descent and strip off again as required as you head down! I seem to have a very narrow temperature tolerance level hence several wardrobe stops required!

We’ve found we’ve upgraded our gear as we’ve gone along - generally the best technical gear you can afford.

73
Karen

Hi John

Same problem here!

My answer is to carry a spare shirt and fleece jumper in the day bag. When on the summit, scare the sheep and people by rapidly removing “wet” garments and replacing with the dry ones out of the bag. In the height of winter bonus time, it is amazing how quickly this process can be performed…

maybe a new craze in the making - extreme streaking…

73

Tim

G4YTD

In reply to G1STQ:

Hi John

Glad you had fun on the Wrekin!

Clothing is a bit of an art. What we do is pretty extreme, thrashing up a hill then sitting still for up to a couple of hours in whatever the weather is throwing at you takes some preparing for. Being of the round persuasion myself, it took me a while to find the answer that suited my physique. Early on I wore far too much to start with, and really suffered on the ascents. Now I wear the minimum on ascent, and add layers as soon as I’m set up on summit then discard them ready for descent.

Having tried a variety of brands, I now swear by Paramo. Expensive but by the cringe it works. My Cascada trousers are the only ones I’ve ever found that really keep out the water! Down to about -3C at start of walk I use just a base layer and Alta 2 jacket, and usually open the leg zips on the trousers on the way up. Below that I’ll add a Polartec 100 fleece and perhaps thermal leggings if the conditions are particularly vicious. I use a Torres fleece to pull on at the summit - straight over the top, brilliant! I carry a Polartec 200 fleece as an emergency spare but have never needed to use it, and have been out in some pretty extreme conditions.

Enjoy yourself on the hills this winter, I 've had some of the best fun ever in the snow!

73 de Paul G4MD/G6GGP

In reply to G4YTD:

Extreme streaking? Try watching cavers changing out of their wet suits in mid winter!

We all have our own ideas about clothing. In winter I carry stuffed into the bottom compartment of my rucsac a lightweight hollowfil duvet in its stuff sack. It makes me look like the Michelin man but it is warm, and what is more, being hollowfil it is warm even when it is wet. It is oversized so that it will go over the top of a pile jacket which itself is designed to double as the lining of a waterproof jacket. Another variation on the theme of layers!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G1STQ:
I’m glad you had some contacts John and a good day out. We climbed the Wrekin this Saturday to sit in the same fog. I had no replies to my CQ calls and Sotawatch spot on 2m FM. Never mind because I’d had a good activation on Royal Wedding Day on Wrekin. We went down the hill and ‘sped’ off to Ironbridge, where the main street was closed to motor traffic for Christmas lights switch on, for an Eley’s Pastie or pork pie M1EYP Shropshire hang out? ;¬D )
73
David M0YDH

In reply to G1STQ:

No-one else seems to have mentioned it so I will. In my experience wicking tops are perfect and don’t need to be expensive to be effective. In most conditions I am comfortable whilst moving wearing a wicking base layer and wind proof layer.

In warmer weather I have t-shirt style wicking top, I’ve tried a fair few different brands and my favourites are actually the cheapest at £5 each from Millets. For cooler weather and very sunny weather (to stop sunburn) I have a looser fitting long sleeve top that has a neck zip, which is handy for regulating temperature and for the days when it’s windy and snowy I have a long sleeve merino wool top that is close fitting, I boil if I wear it on the wrong days though, that was a bit pricey at about £30.

Whilst activating you’ll want something between your base layer and your windproof layer. A long sleeve fleece top seems to be what most people uses. Because you’re going to put a windproof over the top it’s not necessary to get a windproof fleece. You can spend whatever you want on a fleece from £5 in sales up to £200 for very fancy ones. I’m fairly sure it’s better to get a cheaper one especially as that wicking top will be pushing all your sweat into it so it’ll get pretty stinky before too long.

The vast majority of your heat loss will be due to the wind, the waterproof you have is probably an effective wind stopper, so don’t worry about replacing that unless it isn’t “breathable”. You may find that putting on waterproof over-trousers while you’re operating will help you retain heat too. Breath-ability is important otherwise all the dampness coming off your body gets trapped inside your waterproof/windproof. Gore-tex seems to be every manufacturer’s solution to the breath-ability problem. Some waterproofs have under arm zips that can be opened to let the air flow a bit more, which surprisingly doesn’t let water in when it’s raining and takes quite a strong wind to make it inside the jacket.

Personally I don’t find my waterproof warm enough for sitting around in. If you ask your friendly local outdoors shop for a “belay jacket” their eyes will light up while they think of commission. A good belay jacket is well insulated, light, packs down small, has a hood, is windproof, works even when wet. I know Karen suggested a down jacket and they do pack small and provide huge amounts of insulation, but they’re no where near as warm when they’re wet and they take weeks to dry out. There are synthetic equivalents that work well when wet but they tend to be more bulky. My jacket is not as warm as a down jacket but is ideal in every other way, I’ll have to get back to you on whether it’s warm enough throughout the winter.

The main problem with the layering concept is you spend all that money on a waterproof but when you want to stop moving you take it off in order to put a warm layer on underneath and in the process you can lose a lot of heat and get wet. Paramo have a range of products that are designed to be used so that you don’t have to take anything off in order to put something on. You just put a warm jacket over the waterproof jacket. As Paul has mentioned Paramo gear is expensive, which is why I’ve not experimented with their take on layering. It does sound like it’d be ideal for sota. Expensive gear does tend to last longer though.

Another piece of kit I take is a 4-6 person shelter, it cost about £30. It is completely windproof and you can sit up in it, it weights perhaps 1Kg and there is no way I’d want to share it with 5 other people. I bought it after doing an outdoors first aid course but have never used it in that kind of situation. I have however sat down on a snowy slope at over 4000m in altitude on a fairly chilly day and got warm enough to have a nice nap while I waited for some friends. When they got inside too in order to eat lunch out of the wind we had to take our jackets off as it was too warm. Just be careful people don’t think you need rescuing!

Right, I’ll leave it there, the post has got quite long sorry. I wanted to be thorough in case other people came to read your question in the future. I know I learnt a lot by reading the reflector before beginning activating.

Steve

In reply to M0YDH:

Hi David,

I had no replies to my CQ calls and Sotawatch spot on 2m FM.

You were 59+ onto High Vinnalls at around 15:30 and I was part of a pile-up of at least three callers trying to reply. After a while the 2m FM calling channel became a net discussing your apparent receive problem, as you didn’t seem to be able to hear anybody! You might like to check your equipment…

I enjoyed our two contacts last year, when you were 2E0DAI and I was M6JDR, and it’s a pity we didn’t manage a QSO on Saturday. Another time perhaps!

73, John 2E0VCO

In reply to 2E0VCO:

I had the same problem on the Wrekin after the Telford Hamfest and only made one contact (S2S from Burrow).

It is the pager (or similar) on the mast which overloads the front end (very badly on the VX-7; the 817 is very much better) and the AGC cuts the gain so that only the strongest signals get through. Viki (m6bwa) had the same problem on Long Mountain Beacon Ring a few weeks ago and on Wentwood last week. Apparently a filter is the answer (see other threads) but my attempt at a 4 pole helical turned out centred on the pager for some reason and has been scrapped for the present.

Hope this casts some light on the problem,
73,
Rod

In reply to M0JLA:

Just for reference, I took an 857 up there and had no trouble at all; I was sitting between the summit and the mast to avoid a nagging southeast wind.

It might be helpful if somebody starts a reference list of the summits that cause problems with handhelds!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to M0JLA:

Apparently a filter is the answer (see other
threads) but my attempt at a 4 pole helical turned out centred on the
pager for some reason and has been scrapped for the present.

Rod

If it needs aligning, feel free to send it to me.

73

Richard
G3CWI

On suitable gear -

Eric Newby described meeting explorer Wifrid Thesiger at high altitude in the Hindu Kush: “A great long striding crag of a man, with an outcrop for a nose and bushy eyebrows, fortyfive years old and as hard as nails, in an old tweed jacket of the sort worn by Eton boys, a pair of thin grey cotton trousers, rope-soled Persian slippers and a woolen cap comforter”.

As they turned in that night: “The ground was like iron with sharp rocks sticking up out of it. We started to blow up our air-beds. ‘God, you must be a couple of pansies,’ said Thesiger.”

73
Ken
GI4FLG

In reply to M0JLA:
Just seen your comment that you were having a problem with your helical filter. I had similar problems when I started trying to tune mine but I persevered, it can be a bit fiddly, drop me a line at G8JSM@fsmail.net ,my filter works really well giving about 40dB reduction of the 153MHz signal with minimal reduction of 145MHz signals.

Should be easy to fix
73
Colin

In reply to G8ADD:

In reply to M0JLA:

Just for reference, I took an 857 up there and had no trouble at all;
I was sitting between the summit and the mast to avoid a nagging
southeast wind.

The last time I activated this summit was with G1STQ last December. It was bitterly and cold the approach was covered in snow and ice. It took ages to reach the trig point as it was like a skating rink. Getting an antenna set up was a nightmare. I finally got the antenna erected, stood back to admire my handy work, only to find myself up to my neck in snow and ice. All that STQ could manage to do, was to roll about on the ground laughing. Very helpful…

My next problem was finding a space on the 20m band and on this day it wasn’t easy as it was absolutely wall to wall. By now, I was so cold I’d lost interest in any sort of radio. Anyhow, I eventually found a clear spot asked if the frequency was occupied, heard nothing, called cq, only to be met by a barrage of abuse by some very upset SSTV operators. Charming…

Never been there back since :wink:

It might be helpful if somebody starts a reference list of the summits
that cause problems with handhelds!

Sounds like a good idea, Brian.

Mike 2E0YYY

In reply to GI4FLG:
Gosh…thanks for all your replies.

I will take my time tomorrow evening and have a proper read.

Seems like I need to have a google and change what I wear.

Thanks once again - I hope a Paramo jacket is priced at £25!

In reply to G1STQ:
Add a zero!
73,
Rod

In reply to 2E0VCO:
Thank you John and Rod for the explanations. I’ve not used the VX7 and dipole up there before. But the VX7 and rubber duck antenna has worked in the past! Indeed I started amateur radio with the same radio from the Wrekin with a S2S with Simon Linney over on Long Mountain - Beacon Ring in 2008. “What is SOTA?” I asked him as he kept asking if I’d reached the summit plateau.

I’ll put that one down to experience [first time I’ve had a radio overwhelmed by a nearby Transmitter possibly]and not travel as lightly to the top of the local hill again. VX-7 and Dipole is a National Parks combination and best suited to Lake District foul weather.

73
David

In reply to M0YDH:

Radio 101 for when you don’t hear anything from somewhere which should be a doddle to activate. Is the S-meter displaying anything? Some reading with an antenna connected means some signal is causing your AGC to respond (meters are normally driven by the AGC). Disconnect antenna and check S-meter, it should be showing nothing now. If it is then the radio is suspect.

Antenna back on and open the squelch, any funny noises? Yes, then there’s something causing a problem. Not all signals will open the squelch. Finally go and blip up a repeater (they do have uses Walt!). If you can’t hear anything then either you have a serious overload / de-sense problem or you’re probably not transmitting.

Try UHF if you have that. You can always raise someone on UHF in the Lancashire area by having a QSO (with yourself even) on 433.500. Try it and the “radio plods” come out in force demanding you QSY. They get really peeved if you ask for their callsign and why they failed to give it when telling you to QSY. Pointing out the bandplan is voluntary but giving a callsign is a mandatory part of the licence conditions can cause apoplexy in the bumptious. As demonstrated on SP-007 last October. Much fun was had! :wink:

It’s not only sites with transmitters located on them that have problems. I suffered badly on Hutton Roof Crags last time when using my Icom IC-80 with an external antenna. There’s nothing obvious on HRC and I can only assume it was the same TX on Grayrigg Forest that caused the problem. The IC-80 was almost unusable on Grayrigg on VHF. The IC-80 is very prone to overload on VHF though.

Andy, MM0FMF
(Having a sugar rush after easting a custard doughnut. Naughty!)

In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks for the pointers Andy. I ran out of time for 70cm FM last Saturday due to cold family.
However I was listening to the Telford and District ARS Morse class on 144.6MHz last night using VX7 and dipole satisfactorily from the back garden without changing a thing. I could hear the tutor Eric M0KZB in Shrewsbury most of the time on what is the trans-Wrekin path! The VX7 is a great handheld for mountain activations on wet days otherwise it usually stays in the side pocket of the rucksack and my best radio the FT817ND comes out to work.

73

David M0YDH

In reply to MW6SPX:
Thats great advice.
Belay jackets are great though IO have a loverly down jacket from alpkit cheap and warm.
Modern softshells are great too windproof, pretty water resistent and light.
I think my bag was at most 5 kg for my activation from snowdon the other week.
I was wearing
log sleeved marino wool top and a pair of softshell trousers.
I had in the bag a rab pertex and pile jacket (Brilliant bit of kit)
Down Gillet and Down jacket.
Gortex Jacket
pair of inov8 mistlite pants
hooded softshell jacket
mittens
merino balaclava, these are brill, can be worn under a helmet or another hat but are thin enough to be worn round the neck without getting in the way.

At the top I put on both bits of down and the softshell and was pretty toasty apart from hands.
My top mountain tip is to wear running shorts as underwear. They dry quickly provide an extra layer of warmth around the precious bits and if you get too warm can safely be worn as shorts.