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Sat, 17/10/2015 - 09:30 -- morganrushton

I managed to activate Pen-Y-Ghent last weekend whilst out walking with friends. My first attempt to activate the summit earlier in the year using my Baofeng UV-5R on 2m came to nothing and it's been niggling me ever since.
One thing I've learned about SOTA activations is they don't always go to plan, the last time we were in the Yorkshire Dales on Ingelborough we had to abort due to an electrical storm (we'd actually made the summit and I was about to set up when a rumble of thunder had us scurrying off the top heading for lower ground).
This time heading for Pen-Y-Ghent my challenge was setting up, getting the contacts and packing down quickly as to not upset the rest of the group who were waiting around in the cold weather whilst I enjoyed my hobby.
We parked up in Horton and took the fast route up, passing the Church and along the lane taking a left through the gate and onto the lower part of the hill. It's a fairly steep ascent but an easy route to follow with plenty of Yorkshire stone flags laid to avoid the enevitable corrosion of such a popular walk. En route I put an alert on the SOTA website giving us around an hour to get to the top. The only tricky bit of the walk is the last bit up to the summit where you have to pull yourself up a few rocks whilst convincing yourself you'll not eject off the side of the mountain - mild sufferes of vertigo may go in to full squeel mode at this point.
Beyond that it's a steady walk up a very clear route to the cairn. We popped over to the other side of the wall to shelter from the wind whilst I set up my small 4m SotaBeam pole (I'd decided not to take the 11m one as only planning a quick activation) and home brew off centre fed wire antenna. I had to compromise with the intended configuration of my antenna which I made with the intention of setting up in a triangular fashion (Thank you G3UNA for the advice) due to the short pole I was usinng, this meant the majority ran along the top of the wall with only a small section in the air.
Turning on the 817, I switched to 14:285 and tuned up with the LDG tuner. Checking the frequency was clear I put a call out and immediately heard AA1VX Dave from Pepperel MA come back - WOW!  With band conditions as poor as they have been lately and only pushing 5w I was quite astonished. We made the excahnge and I put another call out - nothing. After a couple of minutes calling Dave came back to me again and said conditions had improved and I was now 5/7 in to the States - Incredible, I was so pleased, I thanked him for the new report.  After a couple more calls N1GB George in Guildhall VT came back and gave me a 5/5 - this was going well! George put a Spot on the SOTA website for me (Thank you!) and I made another 3 contacts before packing down to continue with our walk, IU55DDS Massimo who was also QRP using an 817, S56IHXMarjan & EA2DT Manuel - thank you everyone! From start to finish I was on air for about 20 minutes with around 5 minutes either side setting up / packing down.
As we walked back down to Horton I looked up my contacts on QRZ on my phone in between looking at the glorious countryside we're so lucky to have on our doorstep.
This SOTA bug is great, I'm heading out again later today to activate Fountains Fell and plan many more throughout the year.
Have fun folks and if you're not already involved in radio there's so many things to enjoy in this great hobby - If you'd like to know more call in to the club for a coffee one Thursday evening to see us all!