GW/SW-001 – SOTA virgin
I chose Pen y Fan as my first SOTA summit as a quick and easy win. It’s a mountain I am very familiar with so could focus primarily on the radio side. It’s also the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons so I figured it would give me the best chance of getting a signal out. Not really knowing what to expect I just took my 2m/70cm fm handie to see what could be done. I had ‘spotted’ my attempt on the SOTA website, but at this stage didn’t have the SMS service up and running so couldn’t self spot from the top.
We arrived at the layby at the foot of the climb only to find it was absolutely packed. Probably more than a hundred cars, it was clearly going to be a busy day on the mountain. We eventually found the only remaining space to park which was in a very large puddle. It made for some interesting gymnastics getting out of the car and kitted up.
As expected, the climb up was very straightforward. We reached the saddle within about 45 mins then decided to take the path up to Corn Du before passing over to Pen y Fan. At the top of Corn Du I put a call out on the 2m FM calling channel not really expecting to hear anything much.
To my great surprise I immediately received a response back with a good strong signal. Unfortunately as I wasn’t expecting the reply I wasn’t ready to log the call, but I think it was from GW7MMG. I let him know that I wasn’t quite at the summit yet and could he please stand by for ten mins.
Quickly dropping down the back of Corn Du and up to Pen y Fan summit we were met at the top by the usual coach parties of tourists. We managed to find a clear spot to stand and I put out a call of ‘CQ SOTA’.
Straight away I was rewarded by three QSO’s back to back, clearly this was going to work. Another CQ call and I had my fourth in the log. Not bad for 5w FM on a hand held, all in the space of about 10 mins.
A little bonus
Flushed with success we sat down to eat lunch near the far edge of the summit plateau trying to avoid the crowds coming and going to the summit cairn. Whilst there I idly tuned the radio back to my usual settings on our local repeater, expecting that the next time I would use it would be when back at home the next day. Incredibly I heard the ident transmitted by GB3WH in Swindon, our local 2m repeater. Hardly believing my ears I put out a call, but although the repeater acknowledged me no one replied. Spurred on by this I then tried GB3TD on 70cm, also in Swindon, I was rewarded by a QSO with someone in Abingdon. Unfortunately again I never managed to log the call but signal both ways was strong and clear. I checked when I got home and this was a 178Km QSO back to the repeater, not bad for 70cms!
Date – 9th September 2017
Postcode – LD3 8NL
Parking – SN 987 199
Radio – Kenwood TH-D74
Antenna – Nagoya NA771
Band – 144 FM
Contacts – 4
SOTA points – 8
Group – Myself and Peter