Scafell Pike 2019

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G/LD-001, Scafell Pike – 978m, 10 Points

Sunday dawned wet and wild.  By the time we arrived at the National Trust car park it was tipping down.  Suddenly realising that we needed cash for the parking we searched our pockets and managed to find the six pounds required.  Checking the machine though it was out of order so panic over.

Ordinarily this is a fairly mundane climb, the main hazard being the tourists gasping for breath beside the path, but today was different, the path was deserted.

The Lingmell Gill crossing below Brown Tongue was interesting, there had been a lot of rain in the last few days and it was very swollen, but with care still passable.

We met the snow line  at about 300m just above the Gill crossing.  The rain turned to heavy white snow, settling well and at times hiding the path completely.  We lost it through the Stones and had to get the map and compass out.  Wasn’t expecting to have to do that on Scafell Pike.

Around here we passed a couple of groups on their way back down who were the only ones we saw on the mountain that day.  None of them had summited as conditions were too bad higher up.

By 750m the snow was significant and the wind gathering force.  We found a little shelter behind a rock where we stopped to add another layer.  I think that’s the first time I have ever had to do that on the way up!

The final push up to the summit was challenging, at times breaking ground through snow up to our thighs.  On steep uphill ground this really takes it’s toll but Peter took the challenge and heroically forged the path through.  We were certainly glad though when the summit cairn finally appeared out of the gloom.

On the lee side of the cairn the wind had left us a nice clear gap to sit in where we settled down to set up the station.  I put my radio above me up on top of the cairn for a better take off, but was rewarded half way through the activation when it landed on my head, blown off by the wind.  No damage done though and I was soon back on the air.

G/LD-001 Log

Conditions were good and I soon had sixteen contacts in the log, although by the time I finished I had lost all feeling in my fingers.  Looking up from the radio I was surprised by how bad the viability had become.  It was total whiteout, then one of the other pointed out my eyebrows.

Once I had broken my eyes free of the ice we hastily packed up and headed back down.  By this time all three of us well chilled.  The decent was quick, at times plunging into waist deep snow between the rocks.  We did our best to follow the path when we could find it, but mostly it was just follow the compass.  Judging by the pains in my fingers as they defrosted I think I had a touch of frost nip in them.  The trouble is you just can’t operate a radio with thick winter gloves on your hands. The windchill was well down into double digits.

Back at the Gill crossing I was relieved to see that it hadn’t got any deeper and we were still able to cross safely.  We did pass another party somewhere around here walking up in street level anoraks?

From here is was now a pleasant walk back to the car, the rain had stopped and the sun was appearing.  A great end to another great day out in the mountains.  I wasn’t expecting much for this one, just doing it for the SOTA points, but never underestimate the ability of the mountains to surprise, in this case very much to our benefit.

Journey Details

Date – 10th March 2019

Postcode – CA20 1EX

Parking – NY 182 074

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 16

SOTA points – 10 + 3

Group – Myself, Peter and Richard

Route Profile

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Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar 2019

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With the end of the winter bonus season rapidly approaching we decided to fit in one more high scoring session this time to the Lake District.  The plan for the Saturday was the three peaks of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar.  A fairly ambitious target which I failed to complete all in one go in 2018, so a personal challenge to overcome this year.

We were the first car to arrive in the car park at Wasdale head, as we were kitting up another car arrived and parked beside us, shortly followed by a third.  The driver of the third car wound down his window and asked us where Scafell Pike was.  After putting him right and pointing him back to the NT car park the occupants of the second car admitted that they were also planning Scafell Pike.  They were soon packed back into their car and heading off the same way.  One has to wonder sometimes.

The last time I attempted this route I went around clockwise, I was defeated by the weather that time and had to descend via the Blacksail path, only completing the activation of Pillar that day.  As the weather was forecast similar again with winds gusting up to 60mph we decided to try from the other direction this time as we were more likely to complete the first two summits that way rather than just the single but more difficult Pillar.

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

Looking back into Wasdale and over Wast Water from somewhere below White Napes
Approaching the summit plateau of Great Gable

From Wasdale Head we took the easy path East alongside Lingmell Beck before turning North East to pass up beside White Napes and up onto  the col marked Beck Head on the map.  From here the path South East up to the summit of Great Gable is patchy at best.  Generally it is just a case of picking the best route over the rocks until reaching the summit plateau.  Conditions on the top were severe so we did our best to find shelter in amongst the few rocks marking the summit where we set up our stations.

The shack

There were quite a few operators around so to save time and batteries we all three worked the first four to qualify and then I continued to work the pile up whilst the others packed away their radios and did their best to keep warm.  I worked ten stations including a summit to summit with G4YTD Tim and an M6 from Northern Ireland MI6LNP Norman.  Although I know it’s not really that far away it always seems a bit exotic to work someone on another island on VHF.

G/LD-005 Log

Dropping off the summit plateau with Beckhead tarn below us

The return back down to the col was soon accomplished thanks to a clearing of the clouds which makes navigation so much easier.  There was quite a bit of fresh snow cover on the ground from overnight but as it hadn’t yet had time to consolidate it made the decent easier in some ways by filling many of the cracks and gaps between the rocks.

Once back down at Beck Head we stopped briefly for some lunch before heading over past the tarn and beginning the Eastern ascent of Kirk Fell.

G/LD-014, Kirk Fell – 802m, 8 Points

Looking back towards Great Gable from Kirk Fell

The path from Beck Head up to Kirk Fell was barely discernible under the snow cover, but fortunately the weather remained clear for the ascent so we enjoyed some fabulous views back over the Gables.

The top of Kirk Fell is fairly flat and when approaching from the East has a false summit at 787m.  Although this is within the activation zone it is only a couple of hundred metres beyond to reach the true summit and the trig point so persevere.  We soon set up our stations in the small summit shelter and set about the pileup.  As previously we all worked the first four contacts but this time Richard completed the operation so I only logged six contacts, including another summit to summit, this time with Allan GW4VPX/P down in Mid Wales.  It was a real challenge as he was barely audible but after much perseverance I finally completed the contact.  Thank you Allan

G/LD-014 Log

Walking off the summit of Kirk Fell

With time and daylight still in hand and some reserve still in the energy banks we decided we would descend into Blacksail Pass and go for our third activation of the day on Pillar.  This was an unknown route as I had never done it previously, what a pearl it turned out to be.  The route off Kirk Fell is easy to spot as the old boundary fence posts are still there to mark it, although the fence itself has long ago rusted away.  Once you reach the edge of the plateau there is a steep rocky scramble down over Kirkfell Crags and into Blacksail pass.  A great opportunity to get some hands on the rocks.  I am not sure if this is officially rated but I personally would class this as a short grade one winter scramble so wouldn’t recommend it unless you are comfortable with winter scrambling and have the correct gear.

G/LD-006, Pillar – 892m, 8 Points

Approaching Pillar
Spindrift blowing off the summit

From Blacksail it is an entertaining route up onto Pillar.  Hard work after a long day but with a nice mix of steep rock and flatter grass sections, albeit a bit drawn out.

By the time we reached the top we were certainly ready for a break.

M6XPE and M1CJE enjoying the comforts of the summit shelter

The summit shelter was full of snow when we arrived so we set to digging it out and soon had a cosy(ish) home from home in which to set up our stations.

Same procedure once again, all working the first four then it was M6XPE’s turn to work the pile up but by now he was struggling a bit with his radio and not a lot of battery remaining so I took over and worked the pile up for him making another thirteen contacts, including another two MI stations.  Magic stuff.

G/LD-006 Log

By the time we were ready to leave the summit the weather had closed in almost to the point of a white out.  It is unusual to see it quite that bad here in the Lakes, it was more like a Scottish winter day than the good old friendly Lake District 🙂

We descended down the ridge line into Wind Gap which was an exciting experience.  As we reached the col we dropped below the cloud  to reveal the full majesty of the Mosedale valley.

Looking down Mosedale from below Wind Gap

Descending the scree slope below Wind Gap we spotted a couple of walkers below us who had followed the path down to the bottom and were now trapped in the junction between Mosedale Beck and Gatherstone Beck.  This provided great entertainment as we watched them trying to find a way out of the trap.  In the end they took the plunge and got their feet wet.  Learning from their experience we instead contoured around the valley crossing Gatherstone Beck higher up the valley side.  Even so it was still not easy to cross, there had been a lot of rain in the preceding week.  We finally reached the car back at Wasdale head just as the sun was setting, a great end to a great and successful day out SOTAing.

Journey Details

Date – 9th March 2019

Postcode – CA20 1EX

Parking – NY 186 085

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 10 + 6 + 13

SOTA points – 8 (+3) +8 (+3) +8 (+3) = 33

Group – Myself, Peter and Richard

Walking Route Summary

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Dunkery Beacon 2019

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G/SC-001, Dunkery Beacon – 519m, 2 Points

A trip down to the West Country afforded the opportunity to pop over to Minehead and bag Dunkery Beacon before the end of the Winter bonus period.

Parking at the car park next to the cattle grid at SS 895 406, it is just a short easy walk up to the Beacon along a clearly defined path.  With the wind behind me pushing me up the hill I was soon at the top and set the station up in the lee of the large cairn marking the top.

It didn’t take long to put nine contacts in the log from a wide area ranging from Salisbury in the SE up though Cheltenham to the NE and around into Nelson in mid Wales.  As soon as I had worked the pileup I was packed away and on the way back down again.  Job done.

G/SC-001 Log

Journey Details

Date – 3rd March 2019

Postcode – TA24 7AT

Parking – SS 895 406

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 9

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

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