A' Mhaighdean Hike - GM/NS-013 SOTA (2020)

Summits on the Air Activation Report

Activation Date: Saturday 15th August, 2020.
Activator(s): Richard M1HAX.
Summit: A' Mhaighdean, Northern Scotland, Scotland.
Summit ID: SOTA reference GM/NS-013 (6 points).
Summit Height: 967m elevation, 442m prominence.
Summit Location: Lat./Long. 57.71965, -5.34672. Maidenhead Grid IO77hr.
Also Activated: GM/NS-021.
Distance: 14.4km travelled with 669m of ascent.
Difficulty: SAC Grade T3 / Grade 1 Scramble.(?)
Elapsed Time: 8hr 10m (incl. operating and other summit(s) on the same hike).
Weather: Feels like 11.7°C, 6 kph E wind, 99% humidity.
Radio Equipment: Yaesu VX6, Diamond SRH770S, Yaesu FT891, Linked Dipole, Zippy 8400mAh 4S LiFePo4.
Callsign Used: MM1HAX/P.
Contacts: 29 (2m FM, 40m SSB).

Trip Notes

  • Nestled within the Fisherfield Forest, also known as the Great Wilderness, lie Scotland’s most secluded Munros. The region unveils a breathtaking display of dramatic peaks and ridges, offering some of the most spectacular views in all of Scotland. The Fisherfield Five route encompasses five Munros and one Corbett, with the journey commencing and concluding at Shenavall bothy or a nearby wild camp. The terrain poses challenges, featuring steep hillsides, scree, boulder fields, and broad grass slopes. Walkers should be prepared for sections of easy scrambling and serious river crossings along the way.
  • On this trip I would activate six Summits on the Air mountains as part of a three-night wild camping trip, bagging a total of 38 SOTA activator points. In addition to my camping equipment and food, I carried a Yaesu FT891 100-watt radio, SOTAbeams Band Hopper III linked dipole antenna and 8400mAh 4S LiFePo4 battery. I also took a Yaesu VX6 2m/70cm handheld radio (primarily to convince myself it was entirely necessary to carry the heavy Yaesu FT891 setup!).
  • The sequence of summits for this circular walk was GM/NS-022 (914m), GM/NS-010 (989m), GM/NS-006 (1015m), GM/NS-016 (934m), GM/NS-013 (967m), and GM/NS-021 (919m).
  • Our journey to the top of A' Mhaighdean starts on the col to the south east of the summit, where we had camped the night before. Finding a good camp ground proved problematic on this boggy ground, and having found a couple of ticks on my legs I was regretting not camping on the rocky ‘tennis court’ we passed descending off Beinn Tarsuinn. The weather continued to be in our favour and we packed the tents down with more fantastic views in every direction.
  • I navigated across the pathless grassy slopes heading towards the summit. During the ascent a rocky rib on the southerly side of the hill comes in to view, and I think in hindsight ascending along this may have been easier than the spongy grass we picked our way over.
  • After about 2.5km of walking and 400m of ascent we arrived at the summit. We didn’t know it yesterday but this would also have been a good campsite compared to the boggy col. A' Mhaighdean is one of the most remote Munros in northern Scotland, and this would be its second ever SOTA activation, with the first one being some seven years prior by MM0YCJ.
  • Enjoying yet more breathtaking views (the best in the UK perhaps) I setup my HF antenna mast and setup my Yaesu FT891 radio. To my surprise I was able to work two local stations using my Yaesu VX6 handheld radio before proceeding to work an inter-G pileup on 7 Mhz. Recognising this was the penultimate summit of the trip and that my battery still had quite a lot of juice in it, I upped the power to 100 watts for this activation.
  • After an enjoyable HF pileup including contacts with regular SOTA chasers Rod M0JLA, Don G0RQL and Derek 2E0FLW, I packed away the station. Despite continuing to be plagued by mozzies and deer keds, this would be my most enjoyable and memorable SOTA activation of the trip. The remote location and stunning views were very memorable.
  • We then continued on to the nearby final summit of Ruadh-stac Mor to the north east.


Below are some photographs taken during my activation of A' Mhaighdean on Saturday 15th August, 2020.

GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 1).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 2).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 3).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 4).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 5).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 6).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 7).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 8).
GM/NS-013 SOTA Activation, 15/08/2020 (Photo no. 9).

Walking Route for A' Mhaighdean

The interactive map below shows my GPS track taken to the SOTA activation zone for A' Mhaighdean. Note that this summit was activated as part of a multi-summit hike and the map below shows the full route taken on the day. The GM/NS-013 summit area is marked on the map with a blue pin icon.

You can download the route shown above as a GPX file suitable for use with most GPS devices. This file is provided for information only, to support your own walk planning and research (it may contain navigation errors, detours and/or safety hazards). The route downloads provided here are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.

Station Log

I logged the following 29 amateur radio contacts operating as MM1HAX/P from GM/NS-013 A' Mhaighdean on Saturday 15th August, 2020 (all times shown are UTC):

09:50GM4JGK2mFMNorman, 5/9
09:52GM7PBB2mFMJohn, 5/7
10:00DL6FAX40mSSBConrad, 5/7
10:04GW1MNC40mSSBAlec, 5/7
10:05M7MZB40mSSBMatthew, 5/9
10:06M0XID40mSSBGary, 5/9
10:07M1TES40mSSBJames, 5/9
10:082E1DFI40mSSBRay, 5/9
10:09M1DDD40mSSBNick, 5/9
10:10G4IAR40mSSBDave, 5/8
10:12F5PVK40mSSBYvon, 5/9
10:13G0JSB40mSSBPhil, 5/9
10:13EI7GEB40mSSBDavid, 5/9
10:142E0FEH40mSSBKarl, 5/8
10:15G4WSB40mSSBBill, 5/9
10:16DJ1SD40mSSBJoe, 5/7
10:16G0GWY40mSSBGeoff, 5/9
10:17ON7ZM40mSSBJohn, 5/6
10:18G4AFI40mSSBAndrew, 5/8
10:19EA2DCA/P40mSSBAlberto, 5/7, S2S EA1/BU-107
10:19M0JLA40mSSBRod, 5/7
10:20G0RQL40mSSBDon, 5/9
10:21EA2CKX40mSSBPedro, 5/2
10:21G0VWP40mSSBTerry, 5/9
10:222E0FLW/P40mSSBDerek, 5/9
10:23EA2DNO/P40mSSBIratxe, 5/7, S2S EA1/BU-107
10:24EI5KO40mSSBKeith, 5/6
10:25EA2DT40mSSBManuel, 4/2
10:26EA2BD/P40mSSBIgnacio, 5/7, S2S EA1/BU-048

In the notes field I will usually log the other operator’s name and the signal report they provided. In accordance with the Summits on the Air rules, I do not make a log entry where a complete exchange of callsigns and signal reports was unsuccessful.

Additional Information

The following resources may be helpful to walkers, mountaineers and SOTA activators interested in A' Mhaighdean:

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