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Accessible summit 'maps'

Time for an another heated discussion about ‘the rules’ :slight_smile:

Following on from some previous posts about ‘accessible summits’ I had a play about with Google Earth, and the ‘flood tool’ as described on VK2GOM’s Ham radio and SOTA Blog to produce approximate Activation Zone ‘maps’ for some G/WB summits.

You can find the ones for G/WB-005 Long Mynd Pole Bank, G/WB-018 View Edge,G/WB-023 Hegdon Hill and G/WB-021 Ruardean Hill here

It is, of course, up to the activator to ensure that he, or she, is actually in the activation zone, these ‘maps’ are indications only :wink:

And…If someone wants to expand the idea, then by all means feel free to copy these ones and include them in an ‘super compilation’.


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No heated discussion required! SOTA has always been inclusive. Essentially:

  1. You can participate as a chaser.
  2. You can participate as a SWL.
  3. Should a road or parking area enter an activation zone, you can participate just a few metres from your car subject to compliance with the SOTA rules (as spelled out in your link).

There are many such summits here in the UK and around the world. It would be nice if you and others extended your project to show clearly the opportunities for people with mobility issues to still activate within the rules and spirit of SOTA.

Such a list of “drive up summits” would also be useful for those visiting an area with limited time available for an activation, or those with other family members along who are not interested / willing to do even a shortish walk to a summit.

By the way the Google Maps flooding feature is subject to “hanging-up” when there is an increased load on the virtual server used or your network connection to it is slow.

Hi Don.

Just keep in mind that the Google elevation model is not infallible. In absolute terms it can easily be a fair few metres off even in the UK. In more mountainous areas it can be substantially worse (but perhaps not necessarily worse than local mapping). But usually the shape resembles the contours from local mapping fairly well. So always go by the summit altitude in GE rather than the SOTA database to get a relative 25-m drop in the GE model, which will likely be a reasonable approximation to real life even if the absolute values are off. In very steep terrain this won’t be so useful but when you’re up against a cliff it’s pretty obvious!

More on flooding (in the context of finding summits) here:

(and I’ll get around to finishing the follow-up posting soon)

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Yes of course, That’s why I said the ‘maps’ are indications only, and it’s up to the activator to ensure that they are inside the AZ. Hopefully they may show how easy it may be for someone with mobility issues to get out and about and experience the fun of activating.
Of course, if you try activating from View Edge, with a handy, in midweek (*), the lack of QSOs may put you off for ever :grinning:


(*) I know, I tried it once :wink:

Until someone provides such a list, we have an easy alternative.

There is a strong correlation between the ease of access of the summits and the number of their activations.

An easy way to spot easy summits is to use the SOTA Mapping Project and to select “Activations counts” instead of the default “Peak symbols” option in the left pane on top of the summits list.

This will show circles on the map with the number of activations of each summit and makes it trivial to spot easy ones.

(Not trying to open another can of worms nor to suggest to change a very successful scheme, but the number of activations could be seen as an “objective” measure of the difficulty of summits. A scoring scheme based on this value, with summits points inversely proportional to the number of activations could be “self-regulating” and could arguably be “fair”)

How would such a scoring system ever start?

Not trying to open another can of worms :wink:

Nice work Don, and I like Christophe’s point too, about the activation statistics.

In your blog article, Don, you mention Apps for checking altitude. I wonder if these use mapping data, or live GPS data, or some clever combination?

I ask in the light of this discussion a couple of years ago:


Can of worms opened …

Time is the other factor - does a summit that has been in the scheme automatically become an easy summit when compared to one in a new association/region that has only just been added (and hence has less activations). I suppose number of activations in the last year (and excluding summits that have been in the scheme for less than a year) could give some kind of guideline. I would certainly NOT proposed changing the scoring scheme based on this however.

How does one catch worms after they have escaped from the can by the way - this net I’m trying to use is no use as the worms go through the holes! :snake:

Tom’s point is that you have to have enough activations to determine the points before you can begin the scheme, and as there would be few activations before the scheme started, the scheme couldn’t start! Sneaky, Tom!


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Hi Brian,

My reading of the suggestion is that it would be dynamic, which could have some interesting affects on scoring. a summit that had a 10 points allocation because it hadn’t been activated for a long time at the begginning of the week, gets activated multiple times during the week (example here could be VK9/NO-001) - by the end of the week perhaps it only justifies 4 points. Now do the chasers get the value of the summit when they enter their log? Or on the date of the contact and with multiple activations in one day …

CRIKEY, I can’t move for worms around here!! :snake:

As you insist…

You could start with any summit value, say 1 point. Then review the value every month and add one point if the summit was not activated for, say, three months. And subtract one point if it was. All with minimum 1 and maximum 10. Add a pinch of winter bonus to the logic.

The most activated summits (easiest) would soon decrease to one, and the less activated ones (most “difficult”, for any reason) would reach 10 points.

Anyway, this is just food for thought, and I repeat I am not asking to change a successful scheme than runs so well with so many participants for 12 years, etc. I just answer the remark and think other scoring schemes could be imagined that could arguably be perceived as more “fair”. This does not imply I suggest it should be done.

Oh, I agree, Christophe, as an intellectual exercise I still return occasionally to the problem of devising a unified world-wide scoring system that takes into account accessibility and difficulty as well as height, but it seems to be too tough a nut to crack, and I guess that after fourteen years we wouldn’t adopt it even if some genius could produce it!


The concept of difficulty vs number of activations is an intriguing idea. I have used the SOTA mapping site’s display of activation counts to do exactly what Christophe suggests. For my trip to Friedrichshafen I hope to bag a few F, DM, DL summits and Christophe’s suggested correlation seems to hold true for DM. Summits with large counts do seem to be less involved. If you want to grab some easy summits in my case, the high activation counts are the ones to look at. But it doesn’t hold so true for France. I think this is down to the fact that DM has had a bigger pool of activators to call on compared to France. We have a lot fewer activators in France and quite a large number of summits. This means the few activations will be spread over more summits giving lower counts. So there needs to be more that just the count, it needs a length of time and number of activators taking into consideration.

I did the activation counts for GM as I know the place. We have a small population (5million) and high number of summits (1214?) so we don’t have big figures. In fact if it wasn’t for Christophe’s point, I’d have not noticed we have just reached 100 activations for GM’s most popular summit. The table below is for 13 years data.

SummitCode	Name	        Altm	ActivationCount
GM/SS-064	Tinto	        711	100
GM/WS-001	Ben Nevis	1344	55
GM/SS-165	Dungavel Hill	510	44
GM/SS-011	Ben Lomond	974	42
GM/SS-171	Allermuir Hill	493	39
GM/CS-001	Ben Lawers	1214	39
GM/SS-254	Cairnpapple Hi.	312	37
GM/WS-339	Druim na h-E.	288	37
GM/SS-125	Scald Law	579	36
GM/SS-056	Green Lowther	732	34

The correlation doesn’t hold for GM. The only one with a road to the summit is Green Lowther but the road is very private. Cairnpapple is 5mins walk from the car park. All the others involve effort.

I do like the idea of score that starts at one and increases for each unit of time the summit is not activated, monthly, weekly whatever. Though I think it needs a scaling factor to account for summits/activator ratio.

And the winter bonus should also be taken into account.

So, indeed, it is not trivial, but the question is interesting…

One of the biggest advantages is that it would “self-regulate” and make the summits that are less activated more appealing, and the ones that are more activated less attractive (from a scoring point of view).

Again, just food for thought :wink:

The less activated summits are always more appealing to the chasers. When I don’t know which summit to do next, I try to pick summits which I think are more desirable to the chasers. That is why I added the option on the list summits page ( http://www.sotadata.org.uk/summits.aspx ) so you can order them by oldest activation or newest. I’m thinking of doing something which is a 2.25hr drive and 2hr30 walk tomorrow, the WX looks good and it’s not been on the air for 6 years. A lot of chasers have come on the scene in the last 6 years!

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That must be a European thing. In the western US, I think we are delighted to hear any activation.



Many chasers will not only work us whatever the summit, but try for every band done which can be five or six when Gerald and I are out together :slight_smile:

Perhaps that is because we try to get as many contacts as possible over a range of bands allowing chasers near and far an opportunity to work us, propagation and other factors such as terrain (on VHF/UHF) permitting. ISTR our record is 7 bands between us on a summit. Chasers know that we always allocate a decent amount of time to activate a summit, usually 60 to 75 minutes and we sometimes exceed this. No “four and I’m off” from us.

With regards to the idea of variable points relative to the amount that a summit is activated, you would need to take into account what bands have been used and the number of contacts made from the summit. An extreme example might be a summit that has only been activated once and all 4 contacts have been made on 70cm. To all intents and purposes, as far as the vast majority of chasers are concerned (and you might argue activators as well), that summit is equivalent to a non-activated summit. How would you factor that in?

As for the original subject of this thread, my opinion is that it is up to each activator to determine, by the most accurate method that is available, that they are in the AZ and it could be argued with a margin for error. I recall using the GPS to determine whether the trig on East Lomond is in the AZ. Important when you want to offer the trig to the WAB chasers and it is some way below the summit…

73., Gerald G4OIG