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Criteria for allocating summits points?


Yes, but the decision to choose P150 vs P100 for example is subjective right? The MT decides I guess. After that you work around the criteria but the mountains do not naturally tell you whether they should be estimated on a P150 or P100 basis. I believe (maybe incorrectly) that some associations even have seen their “P” criteria changed over time? If I am wrong than I will be happy to be corrected and learn in the process. If not then you are flawlessly applying an imperfect (since the P decision is subjective at its base) model and calling it perfect (or whichever word you want to use for it). Just curious.


No. It came from the fact a P150 list of summits for the UK existed when the program was created.


Interesting, getting to learn about the history of SOTA upon its creation.

So in your view, choosing that existing list (to make your life easier or any other reason) with a P150 for the UK was not a subjective decision. And whoever chose 150 as the unit to be used to define a peak did not make a subjective decision either? I can see how choosing that list is a rational decision to make the creation process easier for SOTA but I do not see how somewhere along the line somebody could avoid making a subjective decision and choosing 150 over something else. Maybe I am wrong, maybe somebody got a call from God (collect of course) telling them 150 was the “true” prominence number to be used.


Not really sure what point you are trying to make above Arnaud but P150 was and is the measure chosen by the founders and yes it is the rule and yes there are exceptions possible (as with many rules) and occasionally made for good reason by the MT with logic and justification in some Associations but it is what it is.


Hi Marc,

The point I am trying to make is that whether we choose P150 subjectively or Vert as a subjective measure of difficulty somewhere somebody has to make an “executive decision”. I have nothing against P150 or P100. I think it is great that somebody took a decision and that SOTA could be built around that decision, regardless of how subjective or imperfect that decision can be thought to be.

I just think it is sanctimoniously disingenuous to dismiss attempts to quantify a concept saying the approach is imperfect or subjective when the very founding of SOTA itself was based on the very same dialectic processes. At some stage we have to agree that it is not “perfect” (sorry for using that word again) and move on.

That really is my point I guess.
Late for me. 'night all.



The points are pretty stupid idea when you can just use a car/snowmobile/dirtbike to go uphill.
All you need to do is walk the last 10 minutes and wohoo you get max points for that.

Yeah activators do that.


P150 is a choice somebody took to give a reasonable set of UK summits that look like a mountain (or at least a decent hill). It works well all around the SOTA world with derogation to P100 where necessary (see the General Rules for criteria). Having chosen the cut off the inclusion or exclusion of a summit is on the basis of a single measurable parameter. If a summit makes the cut it’s the same for everybody. I’m not saying there’s anything special about 150m. An Alpinist would probably have chosen a bigger number. But the resulting list is then determined unequivocally.

This is not the case for any of the other points systems I’ve seen proposed, which typically depend upon start location and/or the route taken.

About the only parameter we could conveniently use besides elevation as a measure of “difficulty” is the summit’s prominence itself. As with elevation one might expect this to be correlated with difficulty - the more prominent summits will likely be generally harder - but again not perfectly so. After all, it’s not like you have to start an ascent from the summit’s key col, just as you don’t have to start from sea level. Consider even an ultra-prominent (P>=1500m) summit such as EA8/TF-001. You have the choice of walking up (more than one route?) or taking the cable car most of the way. One summit but multiple difficulty levels.

Most SOTA summits have never been activated. As we add more that fraction goes down. So we can’t in advance use GPS traces for anything. Anybody who wants to tot up total ascent, or whatever, from their tracks is very welcome to do so, but I can’t imagine that forming a part of what’s collected in the activation data. An incentive to take always the most difficult, highest-scoring route is probably not something we should promote.

Am I being sanctimonious and disingenuous to draw a distinction between measurable parameters that have a single value for each summit, constant for all activations, and proposals that do not have that characteristic?

When people ask me what I’m doing and I explain about Marilyns and how the bigger mountains score more, they get it. It’s simple and is roughly “right”. The points do only correlate to a degree with how hard it really is, but that’s just part of the game.


It is also close to 500 feet, a nice round figure for those not brought up from birth in the metric system! This has a psychological attraction.

Wrong. The circumstances where P100 can be used are specified in the GR, read section 3.5.


What if I use a helicopter?
What are these P100 P150 and points, all summits require only 10min of walking.


Indeed you can and people do. I have done a few summits involving almost no effort.

Every single “difficulty” scheme I have seen published rewards elitism. If you are lean and fit and capable of massive physical exertion, these difficulty based schemes will enable you to get a lot of points. And everyone else? Well all these schemes discriminate against them. We don’t award different points to SOTA activators based on the colour of their skin, so we should not consider a scheme that awards different points based on how far you walked or climbed when the limit to walking and climbing is based on physical attributes and not desire and determination.

I’d have thought that was quiet simple to understand.


I think this is an excellent idea Andy. I’d like to be first (and possibly only) person to nominate myself for extra bonus points for my arduous assault on Sighty Crag last Sunday. And whilst I’m about it Monday’s stroll up Breedon Hill in Saharan conditions resulted in more sunburn than contacts (0). I deserve something for the effort!


I think that this is the best reason to keep point allocation as it is.
I find great satisfaction navigating off trail to summits, even if they’re only one or two points. Its a fun challenge to plan a route then navigate it with only a map and compass. Some summits I’ll purposely choose a trailhead farther away for the physical challenge of the ascent. On the other hand, after I sprained my ankle earlier this year it was great having drive-up summits so I could still go out and play without having to walk far.

I do wonder why there are only even point bands. Why not add bands for 3, 5, 7, and 9 points?


We already have them. We also have 0, 11 and 13. But not 12.


The number 1 was odd last time I checked…


Or not. I have just run this by Marianne, and she stated most firmly that should I come a cropper in the mountains, that no way would she be the one heading out to collect my body.


Section 3.11 of the general rules lists only 6 bands, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. Yes, there are seasonal bonuses, but there is no peak whose base value is odd (except for 1 pt summits).
Was there a reason not to use the odd points (except 1), or was it just simpler to have only even (except 1) point bands?


Rob DM1CM and I looked into this using the existing GPX data in SOTAMaps, and there is so much cruft in the average GPX track, it becomes (to borrow a term) difficult. Some people forget to turn off the GPS, so the track includes the 35 mile drive home, or the number of satellites drops briefly and the activator moves 10km to the left and then back. Rob does quite a bit of smoothing on input data to make GPX tracks look reasonable without losing accuracy.


An excerpt from 3.5: “The Association must have sufficient topology to enable meaningful Summits to be defined. The SOTA Management Team’s minimum requirement to meet the worldwide SOTA standard is for a prominence of 150 metres for summits but we allow for derogation based on Summit Density. Therefore, in a few exceptional circumstances only, and for all those new associations applying since December 2012, this rule has been applied for those unable to meet the P150m rule, in order for them to function as a P100 association.”

As you can see, the rules and their application are subjective (why choose 150 or 100 etc…). Somewhere somebody had to make a decision, even if imperfect, as to what to use as the appropriate numbers for prominence. Nothing wrong with it as it allows to make SOTA what it is.

Now, as a side topic, once you start having exceptions and derogations you open yourself to criticism. I had missed that until recently (I must have been living under a rock instead of on top of one) but that p150/p100 thread is a wowser! Very tough to manage, it must be harsh on the MT.


Bored now. Leave it alone.

(Sorry the long departed teenager coming out in me)


"rewards elitism"
SOTA is full of league tables ranking people based on various criteria…

By the same token, I could say that if you do not have time or money (or both) then it is a lot harder to activate summits (regardless of their difficulty). This would seem to favor retired people with time and money for example. Therefore, using your same logic one could argue that this is discrimination against poor and/or young working people.

"We don’t award different points to SOTA activators based on the colour of their skin, so we should not consider a scheme that awards different points based on how far you walked or climbed ".
You’re mixing racism and the desire of some people to know how many verts they’ve climbed while activating. :open_mouth:

“physical attributes and not desire and determination.” So if you are fit and activate a summit you have no desire or determination?:pensive: