Despite 12 years of SOTAing and over 1600 activations, there remain plenty of iconic and relatively nearby mountains yet to be peaked by Jimmy and I. Prior to Thursday 10th July 2014, Moel Siabod GW/NW-010 was one of these.
We set out from Macclesfield around 7am and had a good run until around J28 of the A55, where traffic slowed as police dealt with the aftermath of an earlier accident. We turned left at Conwy and headed for Betws-y-coed, and then right on the A5 for Capel Curig. The initial destination was the Plas-y-Brenin outdoors centre. We parked for free on a roadside layby beside the centre, and admired our target summit above the forest across the lake.
It was a hot sunny morning, so sunhats and suncream were applied, and I loaded up my rucksack. With fleece, coat, radio & accessories, flask of Baxters Chicken Broth, water plus antennas for 20m and 6m, with feeders and pole, my pack was rather too heavy. Nonetheless, I was keen to try out a newly built 20m GP antenna and a new 6m Moxon type arrangement, so I went for it, I would pay later with an uncomfortable descent!
The walk up Siabod is pleasant, initially over a footbridge behind the outdoors centre and up through a wooded area. Then up over open countryside and up sometimes more steeply and up over stiles. Notice the word "up". "Up" is certainly the theme of this relentless approach. It was never ridiculously steep or anything, and in some places, fairly gentle. But it was always up, never even the briefest flat section to rediscover one's rhythm.
Neither Jimmy nor I were full of energy on this hot and sunny Snowdonia morning, both coming to the end of very intense periods in our respective jobs. Frequent rest stops were needed, especially by me, and I even needed to call an early lunch and extended rest break when barely around 60% up the hill around 11.45am. The rest did me good, and better progress was made thereafter. We reached the large and wide boulder field, and experienced none of the difficulties advised by others in getting across this section. Good visibility was no doubt a bonus, and we could pick out wide grassy sections ahead, and indeed the summit trig point, to aid faster progress.
I operated initially on 20m CW, before going on to 20m PSK31 and then 20m SSB. On the latter, I got a S2S with Klaus DF2GN/P on Grashalde DM/BW-168. Jimmy was alerted to this and ran over from his operating spot to also make the S2S. Earlier, Jimmy had allowed me to do likewise when finding Rob GD4RQJ/P on Snaefell GD/GD-001, on 2m FM. Jimmy made a total of 38 QSOs, all 2m FM apart from the one 20m SSB S2S.
My next job was to try out the new 6m antenna, with the main idea being able to rotate it without leaving the operating position, as I would need to do with the delta loop arrangement. This worked really well, but conditions were flatter than flat, and only one EI plus three local GW stations were worked. Two of these were on CW, one on SSB and one on FM. I finished with a total of 44 QSOs and had used seven different band-mode combos (20m CW, 20m PSK31, 20m SSB, 2m FM, 6m CW, 6m SSB, 6m FM).
I was now very tired and paying the price for carrying such a heavy pack. Pain struck in my sides, back, belly and legs! As such, the descent was hard work and took ages. 70% of the way down, I stopped and had a lie-down in the (fortunately) dry grass for ten minutes! After reaching the car, Jimmy and I drove the short distance to the famous Cobdens pub and restaurant. A pint each of Cobdens Ale and a hearty meal each (I had the fish and chips, where the staff poured a further half of Cobdens Ale to take through to the kitchen to make the batter with!) went down very quickly!
We were back in Macclesfield around 10.45pm, and both absolutely shattered! Not a bad outing though, and over 80 SOTA QSOs offered out there between the two of us. Many thanks if you were one of those that called in. Coverage on the summit was very poor, so I wasn't able to send spots as much as I would have liked. Seemed to manage enough though.