Tag Archives: Beinn Ghlas

That Was The Year That Was ’11…Pt 1

2011..a rewind pt 1

Another busy year…..

The first 10pt summit Ben Lawers, my first English activation Skiddaw and a visit to the Isle of Mull to activate the islands only ‘Munro’ Ben More are among my highlights of this years in pursuit of both activating’ and ‘chasing. Each summit reached and every contact made valued, 1pt or 10pt and the chance to talk to those who regularly are out on the hills or in their shack makes it all worthwhile. I have tended to make trying to chase more from the local hills, I have ‘chased’ locally from Corlic (now a HuMP), Hillside Hill, Cruech Hill, the trig point at Lurg Moor and the golf course trig  at my back door.  Handy places for chasing those out on the summit. Being oot’n’aboot adds a little more fun to it. A new name for this is ‘Extreme Chasing’….groan.

View to the Gareloch

View to the Gareloch

There has been an increase of VHF activity mainly on 2m in this past year and this is in thanks to new activators and the regulars. I occasionally head out myself to activate averaging one per month over the year.

It has been great fun in all aspects…..and a cracking year ( yet to finish !)

We’ll start with my Jan – June Activations..

No rest for the holidays as SOTA devotees decided that a VHF Fun Day was being held on the 2nd day of the New Year. Roddy 2MØIOB had suggested a joint activation so it was a hill within easy reach and a good lift off esp to the South.

Beinn a’Mhanaich was the choice, my third visit to this hill. The day promised dry and snow free so that was a good start at this time of year and we duly activated with 4m FM contacts to Wales, Northern Ireland, England and of course, Scotland. An excellent day and 6 summit to summit contacts, apart from the STS’s the memorable part of the day was how quickly the ground froze under our feet, a cobweb clearer.

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

I did a second activation in January on my first ever SOTA hill, the Hill of Stake, a hill no one else seems to like but I’ll be returning again in 2012, best to do this in frosty conditions. Only contacts were localish..

My next activation was a trip with Roddy IOB to a claggy Ben Venue, on a March day where the views were just not seen. The visit  topped by top quality guiding by Roddy which led to us both sinking to our erses in snow on the descent.. A good day out. I worked mostly 4m and 70cm where the latter band surprised me with more contacts than before achieved on 70cm on SOTA duty. The day finally started to clear as we finished the day.

A UHF Fun Day  proposed for late March so another hill with good take off south chosen, Ben Donich..I will recommend this to anyone who has never graced this hill. Please visit on a clear day as these views are exceptional. Mere words or photos cannot not describe these views, read my blog post HERE and click on the images. It was good to say both the Fun Days being well supported by so many fellow Scottish stations… Whilst we were descending Jack COX called out and a first in the fact that we could see Jack  across the glen on the Cobbler summit, it was not a STS but the chaser points were still most welcome.

The following weekend had a first for me, an activation on the East coast. The hill in question was Kings Seat, one of the highest tops in the Sidlaws overlooking to the east, Dundee. It was a relatively easy climb going via an unconventional route from the west. The wind was blowing strong and it was a chore keeping the 2m beam pointing the way intended. Nonetheless I worked Iain WJZ who was on Corserine in the Galloway Hills approx 110 miles away, mention also must be made as I worked Steve UAU back in Greenock on 4m plus Jim FVM in Berwick area on the same band. A hill worth returning to.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

The SOTA International weekend was the first one in May and another trip with Roddy IOB  made to the 8pt summit of Cruach Ardrain, wx wise the day was excellent, my choice of hill ? let us just say memorable, I had fallen for the words and advice of a charlatan, you know who you are. I struggled on this one but TBH on reflection it was an exciting day. Roddy IØB had activated the hill with 4 STS before I stumbled/dragged myself to the top. A long day..

One month later was my surprise CS visit, my son Euan had chosen unknown to me the top of the list Ben Lawers and I tried on the ascent to post an alert but no internet. There were so many people ascending it looked like a conga line heading to Beinn Ghlas, only 5 contacts and disappointingly none on 4m but a STS to Derek MIX who was down in the Lake District on Pillar. My first 10pt hill..

June was a busy month for me as I followed this with a dual activation of Beinn Eich and Doune Hill in the Luss Hills, I had done this before in 2009, the weather this day was excellent and is memorable for trying to figure out where the couple who had been just in front of me totally disappearing on the first part of the descent into Glen Mollachan, I looked and looked and finally looking back saw them appearing from what looked like a cave, strange..

That finishes what was a busy six month activation period for me.  I’ll soon finish the rest of the year in pt2 and cram everything else into it (hopefully)..

For the blog posts on each of these activations and of my earlier ones, follow this link HERE 

Thanks for taking the time to read this first part and I hope that it wasn’t a total bore..

You can now again click on each image to see full size in a separate window.

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Ben More and Stobinnean

(Sept) Radio Days 2011

Bit later than normal, folks….

SOTA

No activations to report this month, the Sept trip to the Isle of Mull was cancelled and rescheduled for October, don’t miss next months thrilling instalment HI

Back to another busy months chasing, first out the blocks was Simon IWN who was on Ben Lawers midweek on a trip up north.

Ben Nevis from the Lawers Range

Ben Nevis from the Lawers Range

The weekend weather was kind to Neil 2MØNCM who took the journey across to the Cowal Peninsula and activated two Marilyns, Cruach nan Capull and Black Craig, a long walk…but topping all that was his following midweek ‘Lawers Round’ activation with another ‘Munro’ casually flung in….Neil headed west on to Meall Greigh then moved on to Meall Garbh before topping out at just under 4,000 ft on Ben Lawers, Neil bagged Beinn Ghlas, a non Marilyn Munro before a final descent and climb to Meall Corranaich, impressive and 36 pts to those who managed all contacts with him. On the same day, Richard JTD had done both Ben More and Stobinnean on a visit north but I only caught him latterly on Stobinnean.

The following weekend, the tail end of Hurricane Katia paid GM land a visit and with awfy strong winds and torrential rain, sensible people stayed indoors and we stayed on the mainland.

The following weekend I worked Robin PKT who was first out on Beinn a’Chreachain and later on Beinn Achaladair, I had caught Robin from the trig point on Lurg Moor on the his hill.

On the final weekend, Ian WJZ turned up on Beinn Ime near Arrochar whilst the next day, Neil 2MØNCM climbed the biggie, Ben Nevis on which turned into a windy wet activation, keen or what? Finally, a contact with Jim GLM on Stronend in the Fintry Hills to finish the month. Another busy month and once again, thanks to all those who ventured out.

Neil’s blog posts on

Lawers Round 

Ben Nevis

Ben More and Stobinnean

Ben More and Stobinnean

HF….

Varied month with conditions improving as the month moved along. Spent most of the time using JT65 with an occasional venture on to PSK, plenty ‘spots’, made the 6 continents in one day on 20m with a first ‘spot’ in South America which evades me normally. Venezuela to be exact.

I was not as active on WSPR as much but will rectify this in the coming months.

I downloaded V4 protocol towards the end of the month and tried some CQs but this mode is growing slowly and I’ll keep an eye there. I tried to contact an ON station but we seen each other but no connection could be made. More info on the mode HERE

Outlook…

Dunno, more work on V4 protocol perhaps…Less time on the radio and more walking, the intention to play more golf never came to fruition, next year?

eQSL is still my preferred exchange option plus I also use LoTW but funnily enough still receiving eQSLs from the period I used GA prefix although quite possible other stations loading up their ADIF files when starting to use eQSL…I’m not a member of the UK bureau so eQSL is handier and instant in most cases. It would grow if and when the ARRL will accept eQSL cards for awards but this seems unlikely .

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

(June) Radio Days 2011

Firstly, a cracking month radio wise on the SOTA front whilst on the home VHF front, the usual contacts made on 2m. I had posted last month about taking down the 4m antenna which I had placed in my attic space, the frame is still in place but I removed the wire but it will be a 10 mins job to fit it all back in place. I had intended to rattle up a Halo type antenna for 6m but due to my appetite for golf being rekindled it is on the back burner. I now have my Shack Sloth so the relentless pursuit of points isn’t so intense although on the third Friday of the month, I had ‘chased’ Robin PKT on Meall a’Bhuraidh just before midday and knowing that he was heading to Creise, I took my handie with its ‘helically wound’ on to the golf course with me ( a two-stroke penalty ?).

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

Roddy 2MØIOB had let me know Robin was on the hill but he was not be heard but in my search, I found Jack COX on An Caisteal, a quick call in and with a 30ft pitch and run for a birdie, I left Jack…

I bogeyed the hole….perhaps the gaining of an extra six points put me off. The handie placed back into the golf bag and off I went to play ‘army golf’. left, right, left, right yet again.

Activation wise.

a good month with my first 10 point activation, Ben Lawers bagged…read about it <HERE> and following that 10 days later, a return trip to Beinn Eich but this time I repeated my 2009 double activation with Doune Hill. An eight point jaunt ! read about the Eich/Doune trip <HERE>. One ‘story’ I never mentioned on the Lawers blog post, I was just over half way to the summit of Beinn Ghlas when I saw someone descending with a spade across his backpack. He stopped to chat and I asked if he had been forewarned about my impending doom, he laughed and said he had cleared some of the water run-off areas on the path. I did get a strange look though.

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

Chasing….

First one was a summit to summit (STS) with Derek MIX who was on the summit of Knott in the Lake District area, I had come across Derek whilst I was on Lawers. Two days later, Alan TXY was working from one of my favourite hills Beinn a’Mhanaich along with his nephew Scott SWC, it was Scott’s first activation…also our fellow blogger Roddy 2MØIOB ably assisted by Mrs IOB on his activation of the Cowal hill of Beinn Mhor, Roddy’s blog report <HERE>. A busy Saturday indeed.

The following weekend was my dual activation and two STS’s with Robin PKT, one from Eich and the other from Doune Hill, Robin was on Ben Hiant in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, this hill is a ‘to do’ as the views from its top are impressive from images posted online. The other STS was with our old friend Neil who was on Beinn Bhalgairean south-east from Dalmally. One week later, Iain WJZ activated Ben Cluech, the highest summit in the Ochil Hills, I stayed at home for this one as the weather was not too good for ascending any of my local hills. Later that day, Caroline ZCB appeared on Meall Greigh which is one of the Lawers Munro hills, Caroline and hubby Martyn were up for their annual activation week in GM land. The following day, Caroline appeared on Stobinnean, I think I could have used the proverbial piece of wet string as its summit just peeks over Kilotter above the village of Cardross on the opposite bank of the Clyde from me, it only shows when the sun drops in the winter months when snow is lying.

Three days later, Robin PKT popped up on the same summit after I caught him on his first hill, the steep-sided Ben More, he then appeared on the summit of Stobinnean, I worked him both times on 2m FM. Later that day, Caroline popped up in the Trossachs on Ben Vane. I had a quick chat with Caroline as they were heading back south on the Saturday.

The next day, I caught the relentless Robin PKT on another dual activation, both over 1,100m in height, first the aforementioned Meall a’Bhuraidh but I failed to chase him on Creise. 4 10 pt’ers in two days, I did Lawers and was stiff for a week ( a bit less !). Finally that day, I got Jack COX on An Caisteal ( see previous reference to this)…a good month point wise.

HF..

A funny month propagation wise, it was dead to me most days but came alive most evenings with occasional forays on to10m thrown in. Nothing of much to report except a throwback to my school geography days when I saw the name Svalbard appearing, the operator was getting swamped by European stations, I did try but at that time, no chance. I had a look around the other bands when I thought time for a wee bit of SWL’ing and lo and behold the JW station was cq’ing, off went the ‘him to me’ call and voilà ! I had Svalbard, a new DXCC country, luck or what ?

WSPR

5 watts only

5 watts only

A few forays into modes, WSPR is excellent to leave running in the background whilst I do other stuff on the computer or laze and watch some tv. I tend to concentrate on the 20m band but have occasionally visited the 10m band on occasion.

ROS.

Daily look to see what is happening although I did have a surprise contact mid June, I was sending out a general CQ call on 20m ROS and noticed the 15m band had a few Euro stations calling, I tuned my dipole and headed to15m and had just sent out a general CQ and I saw I had been ‘picked’ up in South Korea albeit with a lowish signal, as an aside to this I had earlier that day updated the ROS programme to its latest version and was watching the screen when I saw the ‘GM7 de’ coming through onto the ROS screen and next came the DS prefix and then the programme ‘hung’, I quickly restarted said programme and immediately sent out more CQ’s on 15m but apart from a couple of Europeans nothing else ‘came’ back, I checked my eQSL account later and found a card from the South Korean station confirming our ‘QSO’, a bad time for it to freeze….it hasn’t happened since, dilemma DXCC or not ? This programme tells you who is sending out CQs and on what band, a bit DX clustery ? but you will get reports from who ‘hears’ you even if they are only monitoring the frequency and will upload to pskreporter.

For Ben Hiant photos, try Geograph

Lawers is a 10, a 10 point ‘Marilyn’

My son Euan mentioned the previous week that we could ‘do’ a hill together so like a good father I sent him to see his mum for a wee loan of her car, it never fails. I have to say here that he drives and I don’t. I mentioned the weather wasn’t looking the best but we would keep an eye on the prospects toward the end of the following week.

The chosen hill ?

Activation of Ben Lawers GM/CS 001 2/6/2011

Activation of Ben Lawers GM/CS 001 2/6/2011

‘Just surprise me’ I said and so on the day we would leave home and we would head but he would not tell me the destination although I said it has to be a Marilyn for obvious reasons.

Thursday looked good weatherwise and I got all the equipment together but this time I was going to travel with the barest minimum. I debated leaving home the 4m handie but thought if any problem with the 2m stuff, I would have least 4m FM.

We decided, okay he decided a 8am start, I thought it must be local as I remember being told once by him that I wouldn’t be fit enough to ‘do’ Ben Lomond so naturally, I wondered where we would go. Off across the usual northern route, the Balloch roundabout was passed so we were now heading further up Loch Lomondside, I had a sneaking suspicion it would be in the Arrochar area but nope it wasn’t to be as we turned right at Tarbet. Heading further northwards to Crainlarich, I thought please no not Ardrain again !!! but soon we passed the Ardrain set off point and minutes later we arrived in Crainlarich, we turned right. More? nope, we passed and looked up the daunting relentless slopes of this fine hill. Onward then it became clear it was the Lawers area but what one ? Corranaich ? Tarmachan on a return trip ? nope, straight into the Ben Lawers car park. It was Lawers !!

Panic ? yep, I panicked…are you kidding ? remember my last time out ? I’ll tell your mum !! I’ll boot yer **** !!!

‘You’ll do it !’ he says casually, comforting words from the oldest in the family who will inherit my meagre pittance, I did text my youngest to tell her mum, HELP !!!!!

‘Move it, Bob’ he says and off we joining the merry throng who all seemed to set off at the same time….

My thoughts at that time ?

It’s just quarter after 10 so this looks like a 4pm activation, my mind was working overtime trying to remember the route as I had planned this at one point but after the last Munro, the idea was shelved.

It was pretty breezy as we headed through the Nature Area exiting through the last gate and on to the open hillside, the dress of some of the parties heading up was making my head shake with disbelief..

I’m not going to head off on a rant but it was like a walk along the beach for some. I spoke to one woman who was struggling and offered her a few wine gums(sugar fix), she said she had some chocolate biscuits and a near empty litre bottle of water. I think she retraced back just before Beinn Ghlas.

Off again I’m still ascending slowly as I do, a wee break then I walk more and a wee break. It works for me!

It was getting serious now and a constant ascent to the first Munro Beinn Ghlas, I stopped after the first 60 mins for a wee break and some scran ( for those gourmonds among you the choice(again) was Toast with mature cheese washed down with a cheeky little drop of Chateau Loch Thom (tap water)).

Our first target

Our first target

Off and upwards I headed with the mist and cloud rolling in, rather atmospheric I thought but it was that ‘smirry’ stuff which just clings to you, the one advantage was that the wind was almost directly behind me but even a hurricane cannot move me, I spoke to someone who was on the down and he assured me that the first summit was within easy reach. I headed upwards and soon heard Euan call me into a sheltered area, a wee scran break again.

Minutes later, another ‘Munro’ was bagged although it was pretty nondescript and unexciting but then you start heading down to the bealach, the ridge walk is good for the short time it lasts, a bit ‘airy’ to your left into the glen below whilst Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire Leith could be seen occasionally when the cloud lifted. I had thought Beinn Ghlas was only just over the basic ‘Munro’ height but my memory had failed me, it was 1103m.

Lawers was continually shrouded in scurrying cloud but I now thought that from the bealach I still had a 1000ft climb to the trig point although it was really a haul of approx 550ft which looked straight up. The wind was now strong and constant and I slowly worked my way up to the summit, the path was heavily eroded.  ‘Not long now, big fella, only 10 mins to go’, Aye, right, I’ve heard this before but no, there it was ‘The Trig (and the nearby Direction Indicator). I thought as I was getting nearer it was moving backwards but no, Euan appeared and I finally reached out and touched the Trig point or to be honest used it to hold me up. The wind was now pretty horrendous, Euan had found a slightly sheltered area where I could use the 5 element 2m beam, I thought no 4m FM today unless I struggled with 2m FM which I did.

Our ubiquitous fellow blogger and my sometimes joint activator, Roddy 2MØIOB was waiting on my call, ten points to you !!. I know ‘giving’ ten chaser points and mentioning CS/001 just sounded so good. I never thought I’d manage a ten pointer. One contact down with three to go and boy, I struggled.

Next call in the log was Denis YDN who was near Girvan, we had a good chat and finally, I thought I better go and try and find more contacts. I called on S20, nothing so off through the band I looked and came upon Derek MIX who was activating Knott in the Lake District and once our beams headed in the right direction, a strong signal both ways, I had a quick chat and the conditions weather wise in the Lake District were much better but I guess as I was nearly at 4,000 ft, it would be different.

Off now to catch the fourth contact, this one would activate the hill fully for my points, Steven TMS in Fife answered my call, a chat about SOTA and I was off once more to find more contacts, it turned out to be only another one, Iain, MIM in the Falkirk area. I had a further search around the band, I could hear with a strong MØ station but my attempts to ‘break’ went unheeded, I also heard a Welsh accent very low in signal strength but as it was getting on, I dropped the beam and mast which had a mind of its own at times.Sadly 2m was not in good use this day.

Looking back to Beinn Ghlas as Bob starts final push

Looking back to Beinn Ghlas as Bob starts final push

Packed away it was time to head off the summit, windblown and slightly chilly we descended towards the bealach taking care on the steep eroded sections. We discussed our plan to head down the lower path avoiding the climb back up to Ghlas as this path looked a steady but gentle way down. The path was excellent, no erosion and a steady descent. A thought for ascent if one wasn’t ‘munro’ minded. We could now see both Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire an Leith and the ridge between them across the glen.

A slow but steady descent and suddenly views of Loch Tay and the Tarmachan ridge came into view. We entered the Nature Area and soon we arrived back at the car park. Time to head home……

I had done it !!!!!! another victory for this ancient overweight lump, number 10 on the Munro height list, only 270 odd to do.

What a day although I must say to be honest, the walk to Lawers starts at 440m and this is a great help, the path over Beinn Ghlas is pretty much in bad condition as is the final ascent to Lawers but visitors to both hills must run into thousands each year. The return path into Coire Odhar which we used which skirts to the north side of Beinn Ghlas is in excellent condition and if you decide not to bag Ghlas then it may be a better thought to use this path on your walk in.

My pack was lighter this trip as Euan had kindly carried my mast and beam and my much lightened box of tricks. I had carried extra food, water and clothing. It certainly helped, I wonder my progress would have slowed much with the extra equipment, I thought maybe slightly.

In the grand scheme of things SOTA, a ten point hill is the pinnacle, I have achieved one. I know that those who visit the blog have been on these lofty heights but for me, it was an achievement.

Sadly the constant cloud meant I could not have a panorama view from the top, I think I would have struggled to stand in the wind as well. The mist and cloud did not help the photo opportunities either.

I have posted a very short scan of the summit area.

Information Overload…..

Ben Lawers ( Beinn Labhair ) is 1412m ASL ( 3,983 ft) and is the ‘Hill of the loud stream ‘

is number 10 on the Munro list

Beinn Ghlas is 1103m ASL (3,619 ft) and it’s Gaelic meaning is the ‘Grey-Green Mountain’

is number 47 on the Munro list

Ben Lawers Geohack Info <HERE>