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Moel y Gamelin 2013

 

If the footprints today were wrong, it would have been my own fault. The only human footprints I saw all day were mine - coming the other way.  Monday 11th February 2013 and another chance to build my fitness with a walk. This time I headed west to North East Wales, via some congestion on the M56, arriving at the Ponderosa Cafe on the A542 Horseshoe Pass around 10am.

Looking up to the first section of the walk    An icy slog today!

The opening time of the cafe had been put back two hours while the staff cleared the car park and footpaths of ice. I commenced my walk to the summit of Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042, and my thoughts quickly turned to the option of abandoning. All the dirt/stone paths were encrusted in a layer of hard ice, and it was, to say the least, treacherous! Progress was extremely slow as a result, as I was very keen to avoid a Pillar-style slide, or a Barber Booth-style knock-out!

Looking back to Moel y Fan    Summit of Moel y Gamelin

Eventually, I managed to work out that the narrow strip of snowy grass, between the main tracks and the abundance of heather, was the best way for me to get some traction and make some forward progress. With an improved rhythm, I topped Moel y Fan and turned left to take the narrower (fading to almost nothing in the heather) path across to the main track. I just wanted to avoid the steep descent on the main drag from Moel y Fan, which I anticipated would be a bit of a death trap!  From the saddle between Moel y Fan and Moel y Gamelin, I made good time in getting to my target summit. It was extremely cold, so I was keen to find some degree of shelter from the wind. It wasn't particularly strong, but it would have had a significant wind chill factor nonetheless, and the temperature was low enough to start with!

Summit cairn    Tom MW1EYP/P close to the summit

I found a spot on the south side of the summit and set up the 40m dipole here. The Youkits HB1B was sprung into action, and I made a swift 22 QSOs in 11 minutes, before packing away again. There has been a short period of some very light and fine frozen rain. I didn't really noticed it while operating, but kept the HB1B covered. My coat had clearly taken a bit of moisture, but the effect was most felt on the SOTA Pole. It was absolutely covered in ice, and frozen solid.

40m dipole on Moel y Gamelin        Icy paths on Moel y Gamelin

Dipole set up near the summit    Activating on Moel y Gamelin

The SOTA Beams recommended procedure for dealing with this issue was not currently available to me, so I had to reluctantly place hands on the iced up pole and start to fight and wrestle with it. By taking the pole over to the track, I had a hard surface on which to bang the poles, and I managed to free up the sections. As a bonus, the act of doing this had actually warmed up my hands, quite surprising since they were directly in contact with ice!  The return route commenced, and I was amused to notice lots of grouse footprints in the snow, that hadn't been there on my ascent. These were the only footprints, other than my own coming in the other direction. This time I did take the direct track up to Moel y Fan, feeling more confident ascending the steep slope.

Returning to Ponderosa for lunch    The Ponderosa's famous steak & kidney pie dinner

Soon I was taking my place in the Ponderosa Cafe for my lunch. I got chatting to a road cyclist who was at the halfway point of his ride from Nantwich. I should really try some other stuff at Ponderosa, but as soon as I see that tray-baked steak & kidney pie, which is served with chips, peas, carrots and gravy for 5, I have to have it. It really is a super plate of food. Accompanied by a giant Eccles cake and a bottle of Lucozade, this completed a substantial luncheon, ahead of my walk up Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043.

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