The recent arguments about summit qualifying criteria have been most unfortunate, and it seems a great pity that some have seen fit to leave SOTA as a direct or indirect consequence. I have been thinking about the issues and wonder whether there might be a compromise position by introducing a “two tier SOTA”.
The core of my idea is to leave the basic SOTA programme exactly as it was meant to be, with strict objective criteria for identifying summits of significance. But alongside that, associations would be able (if they so wished) to register a second tier of summits, the rules for which could be determined purely by the local association. Such summits could be distinguished by having four digit reference numbers.
My proposal would be that these secondary summits would not count for the main SOTA awards; in effect they would be “zero-pointers”. However they could still be activated and chased for fun, and would encourage activity amongst those less able for one reason or another to reach the “real” summits. Moreover there would be nothing to stop associations from introducing their own local awards which could include the secondary summits without compromising the integrity of the main programme.
The completists amongst us could choose for themselves whether they wished to include the zero-pointers in their self-imposed challenges.
One of the great advantages of any *OTA scheme is the frame of reference it brings with it. If I go up my local hill (something like 70m ASL) and give its name, it doesn’t mean anything to anybody not local. If it were G/EA-1234 (in the new East Anglia region) that would be something that people could look up in a list and tick off. We have all the mechanisms in SOTA and it seems a pity not to use them to meet a demand that clearly exists.
In particular, since parts of the DM association seem to want to break away from SOTA and do their own thing, this proposal would give them a way of legitimately doing their own thing WITHIN the overall framework of SOTA.
Obviously this is just the bare skeleton of a proposal and there would be a lot of details to work out. However it seems to me a way forward that is worth exploring to avoid the break-up of SOTA.