I treated myseld to an APRS capable handheld transceiver a few months ago, and take it with me on most of my activations since then, with the idea to send my position when on the summits together with the “QSY” frequency where I am listening (ON6ZQ-7).
Using the original “rubber duck” antenna, my results (covering a very limited number of summits) have been quite disappointing in Belgium, France and Wales. In Germany, the coverage was indeed better.
I was hoping to have a call on my “QSY frequency”, but never heard anyone, even in Germany.
Also the configuration of the APRS comments used for APRS2SOTA spotting is quite annoying (like old SMS interfaces where you need to type three times on ‘a’ to get a ‘c’), so in practice, all I do with APRS is to see where I have been on aprs.fi when back home. Not very exciting.
On places where I had no APRS coverage but data, I used my smartphone as ON6ZQ-5 with APRSDroid. It works, but if you have data, better send an spot directly on sotawatch…
It looks like the technology is there, be we don’t really know how to use it for something useful for SOTA activators and chasers. Maybe one way to encourage the use of APRS would be to have activators reporting their position while progressing to summits, so that the chasers could follow them (if they mention APRS in their alert for example).
Not sure it would “take off” anyway…