Great Gable and Kirk Fell 2018

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After the tribulations of Saturday on Pillar I decided to complete the original plan on the Sunday to activate Great Gable and Kirk Fell. The weather couldn’t have been more different just one day later.  The wind had dropped to more normal levels and the temperature had risen.  There was even sunshine at times and visibility was great.

G/LD-005, Great Gable – 899m, 8 Points

Great Gable in the distance

The walk in and up to beck head is pleasant.  There is a good path up over easy ground. At Beck Head turn right up much steeper and broken ground.  The path is not so easy to find here, try and keep more to the right.  The top of Great Gable was in cloud when I arrived and above about 800m the rock was all covered in a thin layer of verglas making passage tricky at times.

Great Gable summit plateau

The summit plateau was quite surreal with extensive frosting and poor visibility, it was more like a moonscape.

Once again I managed to make the contacts without setting up the beam.  I stood on top of the summit cairn and soon had  six contacts in the log.

G/LD-005 Log

Dropping off the summit back down to Beck Head I managed to find an easier route down and was soon back at the col.

G/LD-014, Kirk Fell – 802m, 8 Points

Beckhead Tarn frozen solid

From Beck Head it is an easy route West up onto Kirk Fell.  The ground gets steep in places but nothing of any difficulty.  The summit plateau was in the clouds when I arrived so visibility was poor.  Note there is a small false summit before reaching the main summit proper.  As I arrived at the summit I heard Mark M0NOM calling from the summit of G/LD-050 Gummer’s How so I grabbed the mic and managed to quickly get a summit to summit contact in the log.

Kirk Fell summit shelter

There is a nice summit shelter at the top so I set up here to make another six contacts, once again all using just the Nagoya antenna with 5w from the HT.  With the successful activation in the bag it was time to head back down.  There is a path on the map South West straight down the nose of Kirk Fell.

The path down the nose of Kirk Fell

I had seen is from below on the walk in and knew it was going to be steep, but as the weather was not too bad I decided to try it anyway.  It was steep but perfectly passable.  I am not sure I would like to come up that way though as there is a lot of loose scree to cross.

G/LD-014 Log

Journey Details

Date – 16th December 2018

Postcode – CA20 1EX

Parking – NY 186 085

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – Nagoya NA771

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6+7

SOTA points – 16 + 6 bonus

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

 

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Pillar 2018

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G/LD-006, Pillar – 892m, 8 Points

Pillar in the background

This was originally meant to be a big day out, bagging three peaks in a circular walk.  The original plan was starting from Wasdale Head, up Pillar, across to Kirk Fell and then back over Great Gable and down to Wasdale Head.  As the weekend drew closer it was becoming apparent that the weather gods had decided they didn’t agree.  Storm Deirdre was heading in from the Atlantic and due to meet a big patch of cold air sitting over Northern England.  Most forecasts were showing heavy snow across the upper half of England and up into Scotland along with strong winds as Deirdre blew herself out.

Green Crags just below Wind Gap with Little Scoat Fell behind

In the event it didn’t work out that way.  The snow landed further North which was a big help with the driving, but the winds certainly turned up.  Forecast for the tops was 60 – 70 mph which I think was fairly conservative.

The walk up Mosedale was pleasant enough, there is not much of a path to be seen on the ground once you pass the fork but it is easy navigating in a straight line.

Looking towards Kirk Fell
Pillar summit shelter

Passing up between Green Crags and Elliptical Crag the ground gets fairly steep and rocky but it is easy enough to pass.  As I put my head above the col at Wind Gap it became clear why it was named so.  From that point on it was constant wind making walking very difficult.  I was knocked over a few times by gusts.  The temperature was well below freezing and the wind chill must have been at least 20 deg below.  The ridge path was a welcome relief from the broken rocky ascent.  On a good day the final ascent up to the summit would be a pleasant walk.   There is a small shelter on the summit which was facing the wrong way and catching all the wind so I set up on the other side in what little shelter I could find.

It was so windy I didn’t attempt to set up the beam, I just operated from the Nagoya on top of the radio. I soon made six contacts and was on my way.  By this time visibility was down so about 20m and the winds were getting stronger.  I headed down towards the path over Black Sail Pass but it was a real challenge.  It took me an hour to get back down to the pass, a walk that should have taken no more than 30 mins.

A last rare glimpse back up at Piller from Black Sail Pass

By the time I got to the pass it was clear that continuing on up Kirk Fell would be an issue.  The wind chill was starting to affect my vision and the constant buffeting was really exhausting.  At his point I decided to drop off down Black Sail and call it a day.  The other two would still be there tomorrow, I wanted to be sure that I would be there as well.

G/LD-006 Log

Journey Details

Date – 15th December 2018

Postcode – CA20 1EX

Parking – NY 186 085

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – Nagoya NA771

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6

SOTA points – 8 + 3 bonus

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Tryfan 2018

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GW/NW-006, Tryfan – 918m, 8 Points

Day two of our Snowdonia excursion.  The plan was to climb Tryfan then on up Bristly Ridge onto the Glyders to bag Glyder Fawr and possibly on also to Y Garn before descending back down via the Devils Kitchen.  A classic Glyders circuit.  Unfortunately the weather was against us so we only managed to complete Tryfan, details below.

Still wet from the previous day we set off from the car park at Llyn Ogwen up the classic north face route.  It was pretty much as expected, another new variation although there were a few bits I recognised.  We found the Cannon Stone but it was too windy to climb aboard.  From the Cannon Stone we missed the main route up and ended up climbing the chimney under the chock stone which is always good fun.  We reached the top and felt the full fury of the wind.  At times the gusts were strong enough to knock me over so we went for a rapid activation from the whip antenna.  Fortunately we soon made the required four contacts and were able to get off the summit in a controlled manner rather than being blown off.  Needless to say we didn’t try the leap of faith, I think if we had we would have landed some distance below on a gust of wind.  Maybe next time.

GW/NW-006 Log

Once off the summit we reviewed the situation and in light of the forecast for the winds to increase significantly over the next few hours we decided against attempting the grade one scramble up Bristly Ridge, instead we turned east to take the low route back up to the road and an early finish.

Journey Details

Date – 2nd December 2018

Postcode – LL24 0EU

Parking – SH 661 602

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – Nagoya NA771

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4

SOTA points – 8 + 3 bonus

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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Y Lliwedd, Snowdon & Yr Aran

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1st Dec and it’s winter bonus season again.  Decided to head up the A5 to North Wales for a weekend in Snowdonia.  Weather was at least not cold but forecast wet and windy.  It didn’t disappoint.

Last year we did Snowdon from the east up the Pyg track so this year we decided to try the southern approach via Watkins.  This gave us the opportunity to add Yr Aran on the return leg.

GW/NW-008, Y Lliwedd – 898m, 8 Points

 

First summit of the day was Y Lliwedd.  This was the first time I have used the Watkins path, I wasn’t disappointed.  Viability was not great but still it was a pleasant approach.  Compared with the other Snowdon routes this one was quite quiet.  We saw one large party set off just before us but we soon passed them and had the mountain to ourselves.

We stopped for a moment at Gladstones rock to reflect a little on the history of this route.  At least I think it was this one, there are a lot of rocks on this path.

The final push up to the summit of Y Lliwedd is always an interesting climb.  The path is a bit like the mountain mists!  There are two summit peaks, east and west, both are in the activation zone so either will do.  This year we operated from the slightly higher West Peak as we would be turning around to head back up to Snowdon once finished.  As we approached the summit we could hear people on the calling channel so didn’t set up the beam but managed to work enough contacts using the Nagoya whip.

GW/NW-008 Log

GW/NW-001, Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa – 1085m, 10 Points

From Y Lliwedd we dropped back down to the Bwlch to pick up the top end of the Watkins again and continue up onto the main summit.  I have walked this route a few times in the other direction and always struggled to find the correct route.  This was the first time I had walked it in this directions so I had high hopes that I might be able to find the proper path up.  It was not to be though, we turned up too soon and ended up emerging right by the upper station building much to our surprise.

The summit was busy as always although we did manage to get on top of the cairn briefly for a photo.  It was pretty windy by this time but we found shelter below the cairn to activate the summit.  Again we could hear people on S20 so worked directly through the whip antenna.  We made eleven contacts before stopping to enjoy lunch before setting off down towards Yr Aran

GW/NW-001 Log

GW/NW-019, Yr Aran – 747m, 6 Points

From Snowdon summit we headed southwest down to Bwlch Main.  This is a superb ridge walk which makes a fitting exit from the lofty height of Yr Wyddfa.  At Bwlch Cwm Llan the main path turns left heading back towards the Watkins but we pressed on south towards Yr Aran summit.  There is a path of sorts following the line of the wall.  As nothing is marked on the map we turned right at the 90 degree bend in the wall and headed cross country on a bearing for the summit.  This is quite a difficult and steep route in the wet and windy conditions, not to be recommended.  Instead follow the wall along to the boundary and there is a path up to the summit from there.

We reached the top with less than an hour of daylight remaining so tried once more to quickly activate the summit from the whip but despite calling repeatedly could hear no one.  With the light fading fast we decided to set up the beam in a desperate attempt to get the points before it was too dark to descend.  At this point we didn’t know there was a usable path back down and had visions of either trying to descend the route we came up or spending the night on the summit, neither particularly appealing options.

With the beam up we at last managed to make about six contacts. Unfortunately we had logging issues and lost the details of the first few contacts we made so if I missed you then sorry, please let me know and I will add you to my log.

GW/NW-019 Log

Leaving the summit of Yr Aran the light was fading fast so we followed the only path down we could see as we didn’t want to try descending the route we came up by.   The original plan had been to exit to the east following the high ground as far as possible before descending back down to the Watkins somewhere around the old incline, but without any path marked on the map attempting this in the dark did not seem like such a good option.  Instead we opted to retrace our route back down the northern path and onto the main valley route east.  Quite a bit longer but much safer.

Journey Details

Date – 1st December 2018

Postcode – LL55 4NR

Parking – SH 628 507

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – 2 Ele Yagi + Nagoya NA771

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4 + 11 + 4

SOTA points – 8 + 10 + 6 + 9 bonus

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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