Dani, do you want to know if using a mountain refuge is OK or if the activation you mention is OK?
They are 2 separate questions.
There is nothing in the rules that says using the mountain refuge is not allowed. If the refuge is open for all then anyone visiting can use it and therefore nobody activating this summit gains an advantage of any one else activating the summit. Whether you should use it, or operate outside the refuge is down to the activator. Many Scottish summits have stone walls/shelters made from rocks at the summit. These provide great respite in the winter etc. but we don’t stop people using them just because there are many summits with no shelter.
If the refuge is only available to a small group of people then it does offer an advantage. If someone complained to me about this I would contact the activator and point this out and ask them to remove the activation. You would be surprised how many people will comply at once and remove the activation.
The picture you post shows a fair amount of equipment. If the summit can be reached by car then it is easy to have this much gear. There are a good number of summits with drive on access but a vast number that involve walking some distance. If someone only operated from drive on summits it would take a long time to get enough points for our awards. Drive on doesn’t give an advantage unless only certain people have permission to drive to the summit. Next is whether the activation used a generator or mains power. If it did then it is not valid. If it used batteries or wind or solar power then it is OK.
You can argue there is too much gear for SOTA and looks more like a DXpedition or small contest station. I’d agree it looks rather more than what most of us think of as SOTA. There have been a few cases of Spanish stations not fully comprehending the SOTA rules and these activations stand out as many hundreds of QSOs are made compared to everyday SOTA. When we have had complaints about these activations including pictures/videos that raise concerns we have contacted the stations asking them confirm the activation met SOTA rules. Sadly despite many attempts, there was no reply and I had to delete the activations and close the database accounts. None of the stations ever contacted me to ask for their account to be reinstated.
My colleague Brian has written about the SOTA spirit. We don’t have anything to define it but it encompasses everyone in SOTA being sometimes in friendly competition but mainly being mutually supportive. This can be seen when an American station asked about operating in Spain and received numerous offers from Spanish stations to do activations together. A fabulous example of what makes SOTA great. To contrast that, could you imagine someone coming to take part in a contest and the contesters all offering the chance to come and see how they maximise their chances. I don’t think so!
We leaves the rules vague for some parts of SOTA and we expect people to be part of the SOTA spirit and not take advantage of that vagueness. We do not define how far you have to be from a car for example. We expect the fit people to be a lot further than someone who can only walk a few hundred metres. If we did set a minimum distance we would need to come up with many different rules for everybody with a disability. Instead by leaving it to the activator to be within the spirit we put the onus of the activator to be honourable. It doesn’t take much questionable practice before word gets out among the community. Maintaining the respect and admiration of your peers ensures people stay within the spirit. This does work as we, the MT, have had very little need to enforce the rules.
If you think the activation was outside or at the edge of the SOTA rules, please pass details to the MT using a PM or the contact MT form.
I hope this helps.