SOTA Activation Reports 2006 (2)

SOTA Activation Reports 2006
Activation reports previously submitted  to the Summits On The Air Reflector

9th January 2006 NW-044 Moel Famau

 Moel Famau in the snow

Last Monday I activated NW-051 Foel Fenlli with John GW4BVE and was somewhat disappointed to be unable to do Moel Famau with him later as I was due in work on the night shift and needed to head back and get some shut eye. After talking with Joe GW7KDZ it was decided that he would accompany my youngest son Stuart and I on an activation of NW-044 Moel Famau on Monday 9th January.

My wife and I had been to York for the weekend and coming back we saw a slight dusting of snow on the Pennines. I started to think that maybe I would have to call off the activation. Hearing and speaking to Steve M0SGB on two of his three activations on Sunday did nothing to help, there was snow on Foel Fenlli and the chance that Moel Famau was clear of it was zero.

My son Stuart has trouble walking so there was no way I would take him, but I asked Joe and he said he was still up for it. After a long deliberation I decided to go for it. We could always turn back and put it down to experience.

Joe arrived at my QTH and after loaning him some vital pieces of kit we set off. At least there is no wind I said as we drove there. There were no problems en route apart from a burst water main that served to give the Landrover a well-deserved wash.

We arrived at the top car park that serves both Moel Famau and Foel Fenlli to find it empty but a heavy mist shrouded the area. "View! What view?" Exiting the car we were greeted by a bitter chilly wind that cut through to the bone despite many layers of warm clothes. It was extremely icy under foot as well due to the great many walkers over the weekend. Donning the weather proofs we set out.

Once we got moving we soon warmed up and I tried to pace my self to Joe's speed, this being his first summit and him not being a regular hiker. It was slippery and two or three inches of snow had been well compacted into ice by hundreds of walkers and sheep, but we managed to stay upright although it was necessary to stray from the path from time to time on the steepest icy bits.

I told Joe to tell me if he needed to stop, but we were over three quarters the way up before either of us needed to rest. At that point we had not seen a single soul and it looked like even the sheep were hiding from the cold.

As we rested another walker joined us and we passed the time chatting on the way to the summit. On the summit we climbed the monument, rested and admired the view of mist, mist and more mist.

A quick look for Charlie's SOTA cache came up trumps and we easily found it even beneath three inches of snow and both signed the log. I was keen to do what I never did on the last two summits and qualify on 70cms, but this was not possible and I only had one reply to my CQ call. Mike M3XMC saved 70cms from being a total failure and we also worked him later on two metres. SSB proved fruitless but being mid-week and with the FT-817 just on a mobile whip I wasn't surprised.
FM was much better and John GW4BVE was the first to answer my call. Quickly two metres became as manic as ever and a pile up ensued. We slowly picked our way through the calls until we decided enough was enough and we were getting too cold and started to pack up. There were still stations calling in but we needed to get moving (sorry to anyone who missed us) however one call came through that I could not leave out and I had to make it back to Dave G6LKB. Having picked up so many chaser points from Dave it only seemed fair that I should give him some back. I was pleased to work all the stations that called us but I most pleased to work Nick G0HIK/P on his gas rig in the North Sea. I had heard him working other SOTA stations in the past and it was nice to finally get him in the log from such an unusual location.

A few photographs of the snow and fog were taken (which couldn't tell the whole story because there was nothing to indicate just how strong or cold the wind was) and then it was on our way back down. The decent was much faster than I expected and not as slippery as on the way up. As we approached the final few hundred yards to the car park the sun
shone on the righteous, the curtain of mist lifted and we saw a little of what we came to see in the way of a view. A nice reminder of just how much beauty there is right on our doorsteps here in Wales.

A few more pictures of the views from the car park and then into the Landrover, heater up full and home to up load the logs and get some coffee. We both got quite cold on the top but found the activation a most satisfying experience. Joe is keen to do the next one, although we won't be going in snow any time soon.

Thanks again to all the stations we worked and to all those we missed.

73s Steve GW7AAV and Joe GW7KDZ

10:42zM3XMC144MHzFMDupe call also on 70cms