SOTA Activation Reports 2008 (8)

SOTA Activation Reports 2008
Activation reports previously submitted  to the Summits On The Air Reflector


27th February 2008 GW/NW-034 Cyrniau Nod

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I was warned that SOTA was addictive and I long ago knew I was addicted to the chaser side but the draw of activating has been stronger of late and although not long ago the thought of ever achieving ‘Mountain Goat’ would have been laughed off now I think maybe it will only take me another ten years or so.
The weather on Tuesday had been good once again and Mike GW0DSP asked if I was activating anything. I had a few too many chores to do on that day but I suggested later to Mike that I might do one of the Horseshoe pass pair. He suggested that GW/NW-034 Cyrniau Nod and GW/NW-040 Tal Y Fan were relatively easy for seven points rather than five with the winter bonus. Mike had already done Cyrniau Nod but as there was a Land Rover track most of the way he would join me if I was doing it the easy way.

After doing the usual school run I picked up Mike and we set out in pleasant sunshine. The drive up to Bala was enjoyable with very little traffic on the roads, a complete contrast to the last few trips I had made this way. At Bala we turned left passing the large car park on the left and then the lake its self to the right. We followed the road until we saw another forking off on the right sign posted Lake Vyrnwy. This road is mainly single track with few passing places and of course we met a logging truck. Fortunately I was close to a passing spot and I pulled over as far as I dared with branches of a tree touching the window. I pulled in the wing mirror and the truck squeezed past with about 2cms to spare, a few seconds later we both breathed a sigh of relief.

A little way on we turned up out of the valley on to the Land Rover track. Mike was impressed how the Discovery ate the hills on the rough track and we soon bounced and splashed our way to a suitable parking place were we could turn around later and parked up. It was not very far to the summit kern from where we parked and I made a sortie to find it. Mike had pointed out where it was and so when the heather and gorse became too long and the ground to boggy I gave up the idea of setting up along the fence found a firm bit and set up. Mike set up some way away and was calling on CW before I had my mast erected.

I self spotted and my call on 3.666 mHz was answered by Barry 2E0PXW and although I called him back he could not hear me. Eventually I gave up on Barry and John GW4BVE called me. John and I tried for a contact on 23cm but as John expected the path was poor between us. The only other call on 80m was from Graham G4JZF and after 30 minutes on the summit I only had two contacts. 5mHz was a little better with some of the regulars bringing the total to eight. As usual I tried 40m on 7.096 and 7.115 and as usual no one came back. Yet another clear case for using a bit more power if only on 40m.

I had been lent a 2m/70cm Maspro portable beam by Paul GW0WTT to try so I had high hopes that a switch to 2m SSB would prove fruitful. However the swr on the SSB portion was acceptable but not good and results were disappointing.
First in the log on 2m SSB was John MW1FGQ and another attempt was made at a 23cm contact. Unfortunately John had a problem with his beam and couldn’t get it far enough round to point in my direction so the first contact on 23cms from this summit is still waiting to happen. Again, this was a disappointing tally of only six on two metres SSB. While the beam was horizontal I tried 432 SSB beaming through from north to north, in 45-degree steps. After turning the beam vertical I tried again on 70cm using FM, again no contacts. An attempt on 2 FM only brought in one more station Bob MW0RHD, which amazed me.

After crying in the wilderness on 2 FM I had started to pack up when I heard Mike call saying “Hope you are watching the time!” I needed to pick up the Granddaughter at 14.45 in Connah’s Quay. After a quick drink we headed back down the track trying to keep to the high side of the track to stop the tow bar grounding. It was only the next day when I remembered the button on the dash that jacks up the suspension for off-road use. It also never occurred to me that the descent control was available either, not that it was needed or the diff lock or four-wheel drive.

Just as we were about to leave the track the back end of the Disco’ took a slide to the right. I thought nothing of it but as we drove back towards Bala I said to Mike “I don’t remember this road being so bumpy” and got out. I expect to find we had picked up some rocks in the tread of the off-road tyres but not two four-inch slashes in the sidewall of the passenger side rear. There was no damage to the alloy rims so it must have happened just as we got to the bottom of the track. I drove very slowly to the nearest passing place and parked up.

I was not a happy bunny! I knew we would be laughing about this later but there was going to be problems. First I could not remember where the jack is, on my mark one Discovery it was under the rear seat, in this mark two it was under the bonnet with a plastic cover, so we missed it the first couple of times. Then I could not find the wrench; it was in the compartment in the back door. I realised I was doing a headless chicken impression and took a few deep breaths.

Once that was over the real problems started. I recently had to get new locking nuts and a key after some tyres were replaced as the key had been damaged and the nuts rounded off, it cost me if not an arm and a leg then the price of a new hand held radio. I was utterly gutted when exactly the same thing happened when I attempted to remove the locking nut on the wheel with the puncture, especially as I had fitted them myself using the recommended torque settings. I have since found out that Land Rover wheel nuts are meant to be ‘self-tightening’. The other nuts were just as tight and we could not move any of them.

We were in a valley between two mountains there was no mobile phone coverage, we were at least 6 miles from Bala and we hadn’t seen anyone in half an hour. I walked back halfway up the mountain before I got a signal on my mobile phone. I spent a frantic fifteen minutes on the line to National Breakdown trying to explain the problem and where we were, standing very still and expecting to loose the weak signal at any minute. When I finished with the nice lady I rang that really nice lady, my XYL Helen GW7AAU to explained the situation. I could not get a signal. I went further up the track but nothing. I started walking back the two miles I had come and at about halfway I suddenly had a signal. I got the message across.

Back at the car I took some photographs of the puncture and the beautiful valley we were stranded in and all of a sudden my mobile rang. It was Helen and she just had time to say she had sorted things her end when we were cut off. I could not get a signal again. We waited and waited. We discussed SOTA and we waited. We discussed music and we waited. We discussed the meaning of life, the universe and everything and we waited. We sat in silence and we waited. A number of cars stopped and their occupants asked if they could help but there did not seem much they could do.

Eventually I decided to climb up he the hill again and see if I could get through on the mobile, first though I tried from on side of the hill above the car and much to my surprise I got through to National Breakdown, but was put on hold. No sooner than I got to talk to a human than I sorted our rescue vehicle. I will never be able to listen to the tune “Rescue me” in the same way again.

‘Cletus’ emerged from his small white Ford van and I expected the sounds of claw hammer banjo and a bloodhound. I told them we needed recovery and they send this joker! He was completely useless and had no real tools other than a socket set and two trolley jacks. “I needed to go for some tools” he says and disappears for another hour and ten minutes. Returning with a Stilsons pipe wrench and a length of scaffolding pole he somehow managed to remove the locking nut. After slackening the rest of the nuts he decided it was his job to sit with his foot on the brake while I choked the wheels, jacked up the car and changed the wheel. Just what am I paying for here?

Five and a half hours after we finished the activation I dropped Mike at home and headed for a much needed shower. Cost of the outing not including fuel for activators or the Discovery £120 as Richard G3CWI said “It serves you right for driving up”. I have to admit that I found that the lack of effort required made the whole thing less satisfying but I did really enjoy the driving off-road despite what happened and the final ascent, of about the same distance and height of that for the Gun G/SP-013, was on foot so the letter of the law was kept. I found this a quite a dismal hill in such a beautiful area, so I will not be returning in a hurry and if you are thinking of walking in it is about 3.5 miles from the single track road and there is really no-where to park. I would warn against smaller vehicles than mine venturing even a short way onto the track to park and would suggest that 4x4s should have a 4-foot Jackall, a good wheel wrench and spare wheel at least. As someone once said “We live and learn!”

Where to next? If the weather comes good again before the end of winter bonus then either Tal y Fan or one of Horseshoe Pass two are beckoning, after that I would like to finish off the South Pennine summits this year, but my Devon and Cornwall trip is not far away; I hope to get plenty of support on these. 

Date:27/Feb/2008 Summit:GW/NW-034 (Cyrniau Nod) Call Used:GW7AAV/P Points: 4 Bonus: 3 

Time

Call

Band

Mode

Notes

11:16z

GW4BVE

3.5MHz

SSB

 

11:23z

G4JZF

3.5MHz

SSB

 

11:28z

G4ZRP

5MHz

SSB

 

11:29z

G0HNW

5MHz

SSB

 

11:31z

GW4EVX

5MHz

SSB

 

11:33z

G4BLH

5MHz

SSB

 

11:34z

G0RQL

5MHz

SSB

 

11:35z

GW0VMZ

5MHz

SSB

 

12:02z

MW1FGQ

144MHz

SSB

 

12:06z

2E0PXW

144MHz

SSB

 

12:08z

G3OHC

144MHz

SSB

 

12:10z

GW1LDY

144MHz

SSB

 

12:12z

G0NES

144MHz

SSB

 

12:15z

G0RQL

144MHz

SSB

 

12:23z

MW0RHD

144MHz

FM

 


Comments