June 05, 2011

SOTA Activation With 2E0EET

Perhaps not a noted hill because it is not part of the Lake District Doggy Baggers destinations.
Cross Fell, 85 meters smaller than Scafell Pike - England’s Highest, comes 5th in the scale surprisingly.
England’s highest hill outside the lakes, Cross Fell is no soft touch.

It’s been on my mind to get this one SOTA’d for a while, and Friday appeared a good day, when the Helm wind was at its minimum.
For the 1st time, I decided to weigh my total “Cargo” – 16.3kgs. No small load for a diminutive like me! Most of the weight is in the slab used to power the amplifier, and before you say it, yes it is needed; I don’t want to go back because of no contacts!
The 817 is reasonably light, but very stable. Much has been said about the new Elecraft, but for me it has to prove its worthiness; hype from sofa sedentary will not prove it can stand extreme conditions. For instance, my 718 has been from -27c to 21c during operation. This even caught out the much hailed BHI filtering (now removed). ‘Guess those who write, sit all day.

Setting off from Kirkland, the journey had about three sections where steepness warrants rests – in my case, many! It’s the first time I have been on Cross Fell when visibility was good. Views across the Solway, Lakes, Dales and Yorks Moors must make this unique. About half way up, I came across a large patch of orchids in full flower; quite surprising to me at this altitude.
The terrain is very varied: Deep peat bogs, dried grass, screes and rocks. With little signs of any paths, I decided the only way was up. Straight up through the summit screes and the magical moment of seeing the trig-point some 200 metres ahead after hours of slogging.

One job remained to be done. I did a circle of the large Cairn(?) Four sided seat to see if I had company. A few years ago, I rescued someone here who was suffering hyperthermia. Not an easy task to get her to Greg’s Hut in poor visibility after only just making the ascent. This time, no company.

Settling down and assembling my antenna I was ready to go. Unfortunately my water supply has now dried up on this very hot day. Not good.
I had only just settled when M0ZIF called me. Many thanks Martin, I knew I could rely on you, and I am sorry you had such a long wait. I must also apologise for being selfish in asking you not to “spot” me.
I ruined your glory I now realise, but I didn’t want to attract the SOTA “circus” which was inevitable anyway I suppose, and I did.
No more local contacts though, but I’m used to that!
Mike G4BLH told me that he usually has a poor reception in Barlick, but he had me down as 9+.
As most of my 20 contacts were at least this distance, my slab was worth the extra grunts.
50 minutes after M0ZIF, my QRZ’s ran out and I made a quick QRT. 16:50 and a long drag back to the car.
It was a long drag; no drinks and excessive heat had started to catch up. Towards the end I became lost having missed an indistinctive FP. I needed to go through several fields to retrack. Behind me I heard the expected ATV whilst I was opening a gate. Mind made up that I was going on regardless of the consequences, I said without turning, “Sorry I got lost, and I’m knackered”
The farmer was old school fortunately. He said that going through that gate wasn’t going to help me, and I should jump on his quad. I didn’t need asking twice, but he only took me a couple of hundred yards to a tarmac road! I was very thankful, now reaching exhaustion, but him having driven off, I realised I had left my Barmah Roo hat on the back of the quad. Little I could do too tired to pursue, £60 down the drain!
The tarmac road brought back memories of Army days, when the trucks never turned up and we had to march 3 miles after a weekends manoeuvre. It’s funny how you go into marching stance. By the time I arrived within sight of my car, I had to lean against a gate, thighs threatening cramp.

Glad to be back to the car, I could quickly reflect: 16km’s walked; 885mtrs total ascent had been a long day. I arrived back at Carnforth Co-Op to take on a much needed isotropic at 21:30 – a long day indeed.

Some stats: ascents(start elevation to summit) of the 4 higher SOTAS
Scafell Pike - 910m, 96 activations
Helvellyn - 821m, 153 activations
Skiddaw – 851m, 126 activations
Great Gable – 727m, 75 Activations

Cross Fell – 885m, now 66 activations
Never saw a Doggy Bagger all day!

Paul 2E0EET

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