Sunday, 28 April 2019

SOTA Tour in Czechia start on Weds 1st May 2019

A “heads up” announcement for another OK (Czech) Tour this week by Victor GI4ONL / OK8VM and Phil G4OBK / OK8CDX. This will be the 7th OK Tour by Phil, and the 5th OK Tour by Victor.

After leaving the airport on Wednesday at around 1530z we will activate two summits in OK/ST before dusk. On Thurs 02 May we will be travelling and activating as we go into the OK/VY Vysocina region where we will stay for 5 nights. From there we will activate summits in the OK/VY and OK/JC regions.

On Tuesday 07 May we will travel north into the OK/PA region and end the day in Vlasim in the OK/ST region, closer to Prague.

Wednesday 08 May will be a half day operation, when we hope to activate our last four summits in the OK/ST region on our way to the airport.

As in previous tours Victor will specialise on 10 MHz CW. I will operate on 7 MHz CW/SSB and 14 MHz CW/SSB. I would expect to use 7 MHz in the early mornings and late afternoons and 14 MHz late morning and afternoon. We will always try to use two bands on each summit and both modes. We will operate for no more than 20-30 minutes on each summit so as to maximize the number of summits visited in the week. We expect to activate between 40 and 50 summits using KX2 radio’s and link dipoles. An HB1B QRP CW radio will be carried as the backup radio.
I just discovered that breakfast time at our main 5 night hotel starts at 0600z (0800 Local time), so unless we can move this to an earlier time the predicted alert times for the summits I have listed may need to be adjusted.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Three summits in the Cambrian Mountains MW-001/007/008 - 6 April 2019

I was in Cardiff for a few days and took time out to drive north near to Aberystwyth on the Saturday to activate three summits I needed for SOTA Complete. The three needed uniques were GW/MW-001 Plynlimon (Chased 21 times), MW-007 Banc Llechwedd-mawr (Chased 7 times) and MW-008 Drosgol (Chased 6 times). I left Cardiff early morning and was walking at 8.55am after what was a 150 minute drive to the side of Nant-y-moch reservoir (Parking at SN775879). Parking place is pictured just off the road end:
I've used the GPX tracks shared in the SOTA Mapping Project by Simon G4TJC before in Wales, and found them useful and reliable, so for this walk I had linked the tracks provided by Simon for each summit together and imported them as one into Viewranger - the mapping app on my phone. The route is an unusual one as it relies on two footbridges which have to be crossed twice each. I was prepared for a challenging and long day on pathless moors so I dressed and booted up accordingly. The weather was near enough perfect, albeit a little misty to start, sunshine later and wind on the summits up to around 30 mph. Fortunately all three summits had good stone shelters and piles of stones on them.  Here is the route I took:

I was carrying my usual 2m QRO FM equipment which consists of a Yaesu FT1500M, 7amp LIFePo battery, Yaesu VX-170 handheld, 4m fishing pole and 145 MHz end fed dipole. With the higher power I felt I was guaranteed to qualify all three summits. Progress seemed slow and I put this down to what I was carrying and my heavy 4 season boots, which proved essential later when traversing several boggy areas. Even with these on I finished up with wet feet for most of the day, when I veered away from Simon's track on my way up to Plynlimon from the car. Wet but not cold feet fortunately, as there was enough heat in my feet through walking to prevent them getting cold... It took me 78 minutes to climb up to the shelter on MW-001 Plynlimon, and I settled there operating the radio, resting and taking photos for 45 minutes:

The large and shapely Nant-y-moch reservoir seen from Plynlimon
Back on the route from the col at SN789873 I found sheep runs that led me down to a track running north west of Llyn Llygad Reservoir (pictured) on my way to the first footbridge:
Approaching the bridge which was within my vision, I came across this ruined farmhouse at SN783890:
The first bridge which crossed Afon Hengwm at SN779891 was reached at midday, so it was time to sit in the warm sunshine for 20 minutes and eat my lunch:

The first bridge over Afon Hengwm at SN779891
The pathless route up to the summit of MW-007 was pretty tough with 200m of ascent over a distance of 1 Km, but I got there eventually and set up the FT1500M for a 30 minute session behind the pile of rocks. The summit was not particularly well sited radio wise, but I qualified easily before moving off towards Drosgol MW-008, seen on the right of this photo taken from Banc Llechwedd-mawr MW-007:
Twenty minutes after leaving MW-007 I was looking down on the second gated footbridge, which crosses Afon Llechwedd-mawr. I think it is time the Ordnance Survey marked these two vital river crossings on the 25K map - maybe they already have.... I was using the 2014 version of the map....
Climbing up the other side towards MW-008 Drosgol, I spied this impressive and very remote farmhouse to the west of me:

An ice floe in a pool approaching the top of Drosgol
45 minutes from the footbridge I was in the comfortable shelter on Drosgol, my third and last summit:
It was just after 3.00pm and I stayed in the comfort of the shelter resting and operating for an hour - almost exhausting my 7 amp battery whilst in QSO with Welsh, English and Irish stations. It was then back down to the 2nd footbridge and away across the moor to the 1st footbridge which was reached at 5.15pm. From there it was a half hour walk on the track until I reached the car, tired but rewarded with my three SOTA Completes. Driving back along the side of the reservoir I couldn't resist stopping to take this photo of a highland cow in its prime out of my car window:
On my walk I saw no other person and the only people spoken to where radio amateurs on VHF.  I stopped off on my way back to Cardiff for much needed fast food at the BK in Builth Wells. With five hours driving and such a challenging walk overall, I felt I had stretched myself to the limit, however next day I was in fine fettle for the drive back home from Cardiff to North Yorkshire. 

Summits climbed:
Plynlimon 752m (MW-001) > Banc Llechwedd-mawr 560m (MW-007) > Drosgol 550m (MW-008)
Distance walked: 8.75 miles
Total Ascent: 2910 feet
Contacts made:
MW-001: 12 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC on NW-068) 
MW-007: 5 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC on NW-064)
MW-008: 11 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC again on NW-064)