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Reflector :: G4YSS: NP5, NP10 & NP32 VHF-QRP 02-12-13

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Post by G4YSS on 6th December 2013 at 20:41
G4YSS Activation of NP5, NP10 & NP32 on 02-12-13.

G4YSS using SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
All times UTC.

IC E90 4-Band VHFM, 5W H/H with 7.4V, 1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery.
VX150 2m FM, 5W H/H with 6 x 2.7Ah Ni-Mh AA batteries, in reserve.
Half-Wave J-Pole for 2m with RG316 coax.
2m-band set-top helical rubber duck extended with SS welding rod for 4m resonance.

Due mainly to ever decreasing enthusiasm for SOTA caused by the remoteness of activation areas from my home town, this was intended as a simple, low-pressure day`s activating. Anything else and I may have thought of an excuse not to go. There were two main focuses: Winter bonus and walking. Walking helps to keep illness at bay but I do most of it within 5 miles of home these days. Negligible pack weight removed much of the drudgery and the deliberate omission of a SOTAwatch alert eliminated all time pressures both on the road and on the walk.

Left Scarborough at 04:40, driving 101 miles via A64, York, Harrogate, Skipton and arriving at Newby Cote Farm cross-roads (SD 7319 7053, 216m ASL) by 07:10. With little need to rush, I awaited daylight and set off past the wooden sign which reads `Ingleborough 2.5 miles` (which is possibly optimistic) at 07:55.

As usual, I managed to lose the first part of the path; this time by paralleling it too far to the east. For once I can`t even use the excuse that it was dark but I hope that next time the navigational problem will be eliminated after marking extra waypoints on the descent later in the day. However, the ground is not difficult, path or no path. There was almost no wind to start with, so the ascent of NP5 was made with upper base layer. A fleece and Primaloft jacket were added for all the activations.

Route - NP5:
This is a well graded way to ascend the required 500m but it is over grassy paths which are rather uncharacteristic of Ingleborough. It is three miles one-way. Little Ingleborough`s shelter is at SD 7429 7352. The marker cairn for the path off the summit plateau (important in cloud or in the dark) is at SD 7438 7453 and the vital point to head for when leaving the Clapham path on the way down is a ruin at SD 7425 7342. Other key waypoints for the ascent are: SD 73334 70846 (bear left); SD 73366 71003 (after passing a wall corner); SD 73432 71208; SD 73762 71791; SD 74019 72623 (cross a minor beck); SD 74137 73091 (cairn): SD 74276 73432 (join the path from Clapham) and SD 74284 74015.

If you want the real flavour of Ingleborough, choose a different way. If you prefer a benign, albeit fairly long walk, this is it. Speaking personally, when it comes to SOTA routes I don`t look for anything fancy; just the easiest way possible of getting radio equipment onto each summit and down again.

INGLEBROUGH HILL, G/NP-005, 724m, 6 pts. 09:06 to 10:00. 2 Deg.C. 15 mph wind. Hazy views of NP10 and almost no low-cloud. Set up in the deserted `crossed walls` shelter. No lying snow. Orange (EE) phone coverage from all parts of the route. (LOC: IO84TD � WAB: SD77).

145.400/ 145.300 FM - 7 QSO`s:
After setting up the J-Pole using the rucksack as a base and connecting the IC-E90; a 0.5 Watt CQ was put out on S20. In spite of a careful prior check of the frequency, the first QSY to 145.400 was a failure. After two QSO`s it became apparent the there had been a QSO running all along but I was only getting one side of it. A move to 145.300 cleared the problem but I apologise for my bad operating.

Once established on a clear channel, the following stations were logged: M0CZU; G6ODU; 2E0XYL; G6XBF; G4JNN; G4OBK and G6LKB. Apart from the QSO with M0CZU, 5 Watts were used. Karen 2E0XYL (Ness) and G6XBF Walt (Leeds) reported 41 and 31 respectively. The remaining reports were in the range 53 to 59.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO:
Using 5 Watts to the 2m rubber duck with welding rod extension, Roy M3RDZ was the only station logged on 4m from NP5.

Descent and drive to NP10:
The march back to Newby Cote by 10:59 took just under an hour and I was able to make the 25 km (half-hour) drive to Rainscar; walking again by 11:32. After dutifully putting my pound coin into the honesty Box near Dale Head Farm (SD 8426 7145) I set off up the farm track for Pen-Y-Ghent, via the familiar well trodden route which runs up the southern crags.

PEN-Y-GHENT HILL, G/NP-010, 694m, 4pts, 12:12 to 13:01, 6 Deg.C, 10 mph wind. Low-cloud at first. No lying snow. There were several people on this summit. (LOC: IO84VD � WAB: SD87). Orange (EE) mobile phone coverage.

145.300 FM - 9 QSO`s:
As is often the case, the wind direction was paralleling the wall. Hoping that nobody would join me and thereby have to suffer the noise, I settled on the western facing shelter which was the windiest. In fact a nice couple and their daughter did sit down there. After some curiosity regarding the antenna, we had a chat and they were kind enough to offer me some hot coffee from a flask. It`s amazing but in over 500 activations, I have yet to suffer a wrong word from anybody regarding the radio. I think this is an aspect of hill walking that is not often taken into account and is very under rated. Everybody is friendly and talkative.

This time opening on 145.300, the following stations were worked with 5 Watts to the J-Pole: G4ZRP; M1EAC; G4MYU; G4JNN; G0NAJ; G4YQA; M3RDZ; 2E0JCM and M0LKB. Most of the incoming reports were in the range 57 to 59 with one 54 and a 55. It seems that NP10 may be a better VHF location than NP5 but that may have been because it was by now midday.

70.425 FM - 2 QSO`s:
Roy M3RDZ was on the ball again and he was followed by G4MYU; Art in Brierfield.

Descent and drive to NP32:
The route down was deserted and I arrived back at the car at 13:37. I had thought of copping out by driving just one mile to put on Fountain`s Fell NP17 but thought better of it. As far as I can remember (apart from summit campovers) I have never done a peak twice in a single year so why start now unless it was to pick up the bonus after a summer activation. Driving on quiet `C` roads via Malham, I made it over to Cracoe village by 14:20. Having never been there before, I was surprised when the Sat-Nav took me to the entrance of Fell Lane without difficulty. Without stopping, I drove the old Fiesta up the dirt track as far as it would go, which proved to be about 500m, turning and parking on the verge at SD 98284 59876. Thus the total walking distance was reduced by 1km and the required height gain by 30m; useful savings.

The `burner`:
Back in October I made a risky purchase in the form of a 2m VHF linear amplifier of unknown make. This goes under the title of `TC-150` but comes from China without much in the way of documentation. It was ordered from AliExpress.com (Short for Ali Baba - a name which might put some people off!) Weight is 475gm and claimed power is 50 Watts for 5 Watts input. It cost 116 USD including DHL plus 11 UKP duty. After a brief test at home with the FT817, I loaded it into the rucksack for a possible field test on Cracoe Fell.

Route to NP32:
A few metres beyond where the car was parked on Fell Lane at SD 98284 59876, there was a gate which opened up to the upper part of Fell Lane and eventually the open fell via a second gate at SD 98713 59825. After circling round a sheep enclosure, I located a distinct path which at first seemed to be heading in a non-optimal direction (East). On closer inspection of the lumpy ground in a direct line between me and the clearly visible obelisk on Cracoe`s summit to the SSE, I decided to follow the easterly going path. With the summit over my right shoulder `distance made good` would be sacrificed but I could at least try to gain some easy altitude. The path, boggy in places, remained stubbornly eastbound for some distance, passing via SD 98763 59815; SD 98974 59833 and SD 99258 59788 at which point it turned to a more agreeable southeast and began to climb more steeply.

The higher reaches of this path went via SD 99302 59739 and SD 99331 59678 to a small cairn located at SD 99351 59621. After that it seemed to peter out so I followed a series of gullies and grass tussocks to the summit ridge at SD 99578 59146. Here was found a ridge path which parallels a wall giving easy access to the obelisk which was GPS`d at SD 99316 58839. On inspection the latter, which dominates the valley below, turns out to be a WW1/ WW2 memorial.

With HF it wouldn`t have mattered but I couldn`t set up there with VHF because of screening to one side or the other. The structure was locally at the highest point but whether that is true in absolute terms is debatable. Though I have winter bonused on Thorpe Fell on a couple of occasions, this was the first time I`d had the pleasure of standing on this, the revised highest point. A ladder stile led over the wall to a couple of large rock outcrops, which is where I elected to operate.

CRACOE FELL, G/NP-032, 508m, 2pts, 15:20 to 16:17, 6 Deg.C, 10 mph wind - decreasing. Good visibility. No lying snow. Summit deserted. (LOC: IO84XA � WAB: SD09). Orange (EE) mobile phone coverage on all parts of the route.

70.425 FM - 2 QSO`s:
With the meagre setup of earlier in the day and a waist-high rock as a `writing desk` a CQ was responded to by Mike G4BLH who was barely hearing me at 31. We exchanged successfully but Mike must have been left wondering what type of wet string I was using. The other station worked was Roy M3RDZ who had thus picked up his third summit of the day on 70MHz. I have enjoyed using this band for many years now and though activity is a little down of late, it`s always a pleasure to work even one station.

145.300 FM - 8 QSO`s:
Moving down onto the sit-mat for this session and wiring in the amplifier, a CQ with 5 Watts (amp off) from the IC-E90 to a half-wave vertical brought in G6XBF, Walt in North Leeds. At some point during the next QSO (with M0LUS/M) the rig cut off due to low-Voltage. I swapped rigs for the VX150 reserve and finished off the critical fourth QSO. There followed: M0MDA; M3RDZ; G4OBK; G4JNN; G4BLH and G6MZX/M but every time I switched on the external PA to try it out, the VX150 flipped back onto receive one second after the PTT was pressed.

Thus, as far as a comparative signal report is concerned, the new toy went untried. The only thing I can claim is that it did not force the IC-E90 back onto receive as I had used it to `QRL` the frequency before the start of proceedings. I could clearly hear the changeover relay clicking on this occasion too. After at first thinking I`d `bought a pup` maybe there`s some promise in it after all. Also, when I asked the supplier if it had an output filter, I was informed that it hadn`t. In fact the supplied circuit diagram clearly shows one. However I did have to change both SO239 connectors for some RS ones because of oversize threads.

Final Descent:
By now it was almost dark and I was on an unfamiliar peak with the requirement to get down safely using a headlamp. The lights of Grassington could be seen glinting in the distance. With a good set of waypoints marked on the way up and a GPS track to follow, what could go wrong? In fact little did apart from two full length falls due to carelessness on my part in the half light, when things are harder to judge. Because of the lush vegetation, only pride was damaged and there was nobody to witness the cursing. The walk back to the car along the identical route took 34 minutes to 16:51.

The drive home (17:00 to 19:17) was OK apart from some minor holdups in Harrogate and on the York bypass. To pass the time I gave a call on GB3HG, working M1SDE Andy mobile in an HGV on the A1 near Richmond and G7NIG Nigel (an amateur friend not worked for years) in Rillington. A modest 213 miles were driven in the day.

24 on 2m-FM.
5 on 4m-FM.
Total: 29.

21 SOTA points.

NP-005: 510m (1,673ft) ascent, 10 km (6.3 miles). 71U, 59D.
NP-010: 270m (886ft) ascent, 4.8 km (3 miles). 40U, 36D.
NP-032: 270m (886ft) ascent, 4.5 km (2.8 miles). 47U, 34D.
Totals: 1050m (3,445ft) ascent, 19.3 km (12.1 miles walked).

From the radio viewpoint, this three-summit activation day was somewhat out of keeping with what I have been used to but with just VHFM to consider, it seemed much easier. Cracoe Fell was new to me but I now have a well marked route from Fell Lane for future use. Rylstone seems to be the alternative start point. The weather was kind, unlike what was forecast for later in the week and it felt a little like winter bonus under false pretenses.

The non-linear perception of weight carried was again in evidence. Experience over many years has shown that anything under 15 pounds might just as well be zero but double that and it feels like you`re carrying a small mechanic`s tool kit. Doubling it again almost gives the impression of a piano. What joy; the rucksack was unnoticeable today which makes you think long and hard about what you put in it.

Flat band conditions combined with low-gain antennas and QRP made for an even lower QSO count than expected but much time was saved in not needing a mast and HF dipole. Even so, considering that setting up and a handful of QSO`s on two VHF bands took the better part of an hour each time, there is plenty of room for improvement. One thing is certain, the QSO rate is much faster on CW. We did have a few interesting chats however and G4JNN Paul in Dudley Hill was one. It seems his father worked at the same Bradford engineering factory at which I was an apprentice in 1966. At that time it was International Harvester and I remember that in the 1950`s Jowett Jupiters and Javelins were made there. It is now a Morrison's Supermarket.

The final QSO of the day was with Geoff G6MZX/M on his way out of a different supermarket; Barnoldswick`s.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G6ODU; G4BLH; M0MDA. Thanks also to Phil G4OBK for advice on Memory Map/ Garmin.

73, John G4YSS
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call).
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Post by G4OOE on 8th December 2013 at 10:50
In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John
Once again a great report - thanks. I was particularly interested in the route that you took up to Cracoe Fell. This is a much shorter but steeper route than from the parking spot near Rylstone SD 9709 5836 then High Bark and Rylstone Fell Cross (Geoff M6PYG and I did it this way in October). I hope to attempt your route in the New Year.

Nick G4OOE
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Post by G4YSS on 8th December 2013 at 14:17
In reply to G4OOE:
Hi Nick, It was a good route. You wouldn't naturally follow that path as it basically sets off the wrong way. Much later it starts to behave itself in compliance to the wishes of the activator. It is a big psychological advantage getting up Fell Lane 500m with the car. Any help you can get with these SOTA's is most welcome. I will send you the .gpx file.
73, John.
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Post by M0RCP on 8th December 2013 at 15:45
In reply to G4YSS:

There is, or used to be a cairn, or rather a pile of stones, that tells you where to turn off to the right from the 'path that goes in the wrong direction.' It's at the top of one of the gullies. From it there is more or less a direct path to the top. The initial 'wrong-direction' part of the path to be dictated by the desire to skirt the bog at the bottom near the sheep pens.

73 Rick.
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Post by G4YSS on 13th December 2013 at 00:57
In reply to M0RCP:
Thanks Rick, If I go back I can keep a lookout for that cairn you mention. maybe it's the cairn that I found at SD 99351 59621 but I just missed the way off it.

I couldn't see for sure if the intervening ground was boggy but it was certainly rough looking and judging by the type of terrain the path runs through, potentially boggy. Sounds like you would agree. It's often better to walk a bit further on a better surface and keep to a feature like a path for ease of navigation especially in fog or darkness. Cracoe is quite a nice SOTA.

Thanks again & 73, John.
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Post by G4OIG on 13th December 2013 at 09:44
In reply to G4YSS:

Many thanks for yet another superb report!

> Due mainly to ever decreasing enthusiasm for SOTA caused by the remoteness of activation areas from my home town......

Tell me about it John! At least I get to see something new each time by doing unique summits. :-)

One issue that I have is that the cost of activating has risen considerably and unfortunately income has remained low since the start of the recession. Therefore, it has not been possible to get out as often as I used to, or indeed as often as I would like. I've now settled to doing about 5 joint activations each year with Paul, interspersed with lone activations on HuMPs to keep me going. I guess the more you do, the more you want. The reverse is inevitably a downwards spiral!

73, Gerald G4OIG
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Post by MM0FMF on 13th December 2013 at 10:24
In reply to G4OIG:

Or stop being "unqiues only".

It's not valid to complain about the cost when the cost is more attibutable to one's flavour of OCD than anything else!

And yes, I still haven't hit 250 uniques which was a goal for this year. Not helped by poor WX for the last 3 weeks and poor WX for this coming weekend.


Important edit: I forgot the :-) for this!
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Post by G4OIG on 13th December 2013 at 10:53
In reply to MM0FMF:

It wasn't a complaint about the cost Andy, just a statement of fact. A significant part of the cost is down to location and not totally due to a desire to walk pastures new as you suggest. From here the first 100 miles driven on the outward journey and the last 100 miles driven on the return journey is a total loss regardless of the summits I choose to activate.

For me it is far more logical, more sensible and more satisfying to carry out one higher cost multi-day multi-unique summit outing rather than several lower cost repeat summit outings.

73, Gerald G4OIG

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Post by G4MD on 13th December 2013 at 10:58
In reply to G4OIG:

> For me it is far more logical, more sensible and more satisfying to
> carry out one higher cost multi-day multi-unique summit outing rather
> than several lower cost repeat summit outings.

I quite agree!

Then I would wouldn't I since I've got the same flavour of OCD :)

73 de Paul G4MD
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Post by G6MZX on 14th December 2013 at 11:33
In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John.Nice to work you on Cracoe Fell I activated this one on its first day as a SOTA summit.Maybe a tip to try if you go again is to go from Rylstone and not Cracoe.You can take the Bridalway from the Skipton side of Rylstone up past a small plantation on the right towards the Rylstone Cross through gate just after the turning circle and turn immediately left and follow the wall past the Rylstone Cross all the way to the Obolisk.Its a bit further but a lot easier route ATB 73 Geoff
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Post by G4YSS on 14th December 2013 at 20:10
Thanks for all the comments.

Gerald & Paul:
Maybe there are more than just us who are 'downsizing' on SOTA. Judging by what Roy tells me about the UK spots, I don't think there are as many of us out in recent times. I don't bother about the expense. My problem is the repeated sickening sight of the two or three cross country routes that I must use. Cost isn't a factor - yet! I don't mind repeats at all; in fact I am slightly miffed about summits I don't do every year. I have been activating in 13 years so I look for the figure '13' beside the summit list on SOTAwatch and feel slightly inadequate and a bit regretful if the figure is 12 or less. I have little interest in so called uniques. However, I have a great interest in activating SOTA's that were previously unactivated. Obviously by definition, the latter is a dying art (eventually). Though I can't always deliver it, 'chaser satisfaction' is also very important to me.

Increasingly, there are a lot of complicated things going on in my head about SOTA and I struggle to analyze them myself. Even in my 65th year and despite ever developing aches and pains, I still find SOTA more mentally demanding than physically so. Enthusiasm is hard to find and I can't even give myself a lot of notice nowadays. I am on edge and a little short tempered before but still to some extent experience a 'warm glow' after activations.

Inevitably we each have our own approach that suits us but I am not sure I have found mine. If I had a 2k footer outside my back door, I would probably be up it every week and only bother with a few others. In fact I do mix in some summits that I have never been to before but they're almost exclusively in GM/NS which is my favourite SOTA region. As for HuMPS; I like them too because I can walk to one in 35 minutes from my house without using the car.

I like the radio part but probably the most important thing to me is the walking and being outside. WW2 aircraft crash sites, WAB/P and since 2002 SOTA are just motivations to get exercise, fresh air, the sense of space and leaving concerns behind for a day. For now I will keep plodding on but I find walking round home mentally so much easier than travelling great distances by car even though I have traditionally liked driving through the years.

Keep it up you two - you're a good team.

I hope you get some better WX in the near future. I keep an interested eye on 'your bit' when the forecast comes on the TV and you have been drawing the short straw too much of late. I certainly envy you for the hills you have around you.

Geoff G6MZX:
Thanks for the tip. I knew many people did do it from Rylstone but the Cracoe route looked shorter on the map so I went for that. In fact it turned out to be a little further than the theoretical line up the hillside that I put into the GPS before going. On the strength of that, it may now be worth considering Rylstone but on balance the 'car up Fell Lane' might just tip the balance back in Cracoe's favour. Congrats on being the first ones on it. Well done.

73 to all and thanks again, John.

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Post by G4MD on 15th December 2013 at 23:18
In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

I have to say in my case "downsizing" has nothing to do with lack of enthusiasm - more to do with circumstance. Over the last twelve months or so work has become an all-consuming monster, often occupying 12 hour days and six or seven day weeks leaving severely restricted time for family, home and other interests and I long for the day when I will again be able to give SOTA the prominence in my life I would like it to have.

The quest for uniques is at the heart of my desire - I have very little interest in returning to previously activated summits. In the early days this was because I could tell myself I'd never have to suffer the particular hell that climbing each summit was again - at 21 stone and very unfit, every one was a trial. Several years later, at 15 stone and a lot fitter it's much more about the excitement of exploration of the new. Previously unactivated summits add an extra frisson - most that are left now are so because they are very remote or difficult to access so provide a real challenge.

However things progress from here, I owe Gerald a huge gift of gratitude for his unstinting help and support and can only hope that our collaboration will continue long into the future. We have a couple of expeditions to GM planned for the coming months, and more in the pipeline so watch this space!

73 de Paul G4MD

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Post by G4YSS on 16th December 2013 at 15:50
In reply to G4MD:
Hi Paul,

Wow, that's impressive!! The combination of weight loss and fitness increase will add years to your life expectancy. What a personal mountain to have climbed. Don't lapse back. You can give me some of that enthusiasm - sounds like you've some to spare. I had it in shedloads throughout my life up to about 2009. In fact in my case I would call my former attitude to SOTA, if not an obsession then certainly a great singularity of purpose.

Yes, you have a good teacher there. Well done to Gerald for giving you that drive. Hope your GM trip goes well and the snow holds off a while longer.

73, John.
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Post by G4MD on 18th December 2013 at 11:21
In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John

Yes, the benefits of carrying less lard are enough to dissuade me from backsliding too far, that and my XYL having disposed of most of my XXL wardrobe and replaced it with L ;) Though I do find I tend to feel the cold more than I did.

You're welcome to some of my enthusiasm, think of it as fair exchange for the inspiration your exploits have given us!

Really looking forward to the post-Christmas expedition now. Crampons and ice axe at the ready, and we're going in Gerald's 4x4 so hopefully we'll manage something whatever the weather throws at us!

73 de Paul G4MD
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