Over here we mostly send S2S, although some activators also send the /P. S2S is much easier to copy through the pile, and I have developed a magical ability to detect these S2S calls, even when there are many stronger chasers.
I started doing zero-point activations years ago, because in Colorado winters, the temperatures, winds, and closed roads get to the point that I’ve already activated most of the reasonably accessible summits for points.
Over time I discovered that making S2S contacts on a local summit was often more fun, as well as much faster, than driving and hiking greater distances for activator points. With the pandemic hitting last spring, we weren’t on total lock-down, but there was pressure to stay closer to home, so doing zero-point activations became my main mode.
Another point here is that many Eastern US SOTA stations activate so early that I can catch some of them from a local, convenient peak, but not from a more distant, time-consuming peak. The 2-hour time difference works against me, and I still miss many of these stations, particularly the early birds. In winter getting up in the dark, driving a long way, and hiking up through the snow when it’s still below freezing isn’t always justified.
Instead I have several closer peaks that I can drive to in an hour or less, and then hike up in an hour, often even in winter, so these work for S2S, but I get zero activator points. Several of these have few visitors, so they are relatively safe places to be in the pandemic.
On some weekends with lots of activators out, I can make enough S2S points to turn the game upside down. It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience, but the other activators are out there. Many of them are very enthusiastic about S2S, and most of the chasers are helpful as well, so the situation here is good and improving.
Working S2S also leads to many SOTA Completes - they go hand in hand.
There are several other activators in NA who are specializing in S2S in various ways. Some don’t even call CQ or try to work the piles of chasers, while others - myself included - call CQ SOTA on various bands. There can be too many chasers, but many of them are also activators, etc. Many S2S contacts come when calling CQ!
Part of the fun involves learning the habits of other activators, and listening for other S2S contacts - often one of the parties can be contacted by a third activator to create a new S2S contact. A simple “UP 1 S2S” sent at the right moment can result in a new S2S in the log!
These sorts of tricks and games are a lot of fun. The only bad thing I’ve experienced doing zero-point activations and S2S chasing is the frustration of missing countless S2S contacts that should have been possible. This is part of the game, and you have to try to balance the whole affair so that it’s fun.
We’re just now coming out of a week of snowy, intensely windy weather in the mountains, and it’s been nice having a break from activating and S2S chasing. On the other hand, the virus is spiking rapidly over here, and who knows how long we’ll be able to get out…
73 and good luck -