General Rules, Section 3.7

Brian, when in a hole, stop digging.

Or use Dani’s interpreted as an automobile, mountain refuge to pull you out may be?

Sorry Dani - I know what you mean, but I can’t get the picture of the Mountain Retreat driving off down the mountainside out of my head - Probably been out in the -12°C temperatures here too long!


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This is getting silly. Guys, this is what I wrote above:

“By the way, I think you used the term “moot” to mean irrelevant. This is not just a modern inaccuracy but a total reversal of meaning - the anglo-saxon and medieval usage was of a meeting for debate or a court.”

There is no confusion here, is there? My comment acknowledged his usage of the term “moot” and drew attention to the original meaning which is in direct contradiction to his more modern usage, and made a (to me) amusing parallel between his dismissal of my point and my return of the point to discussion.

Now, has anybody anything more to say about the original post?

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It’s not ambiguous. If it had been a noun it would have had an article preceding it, such as ‘a’.

The adjective form dates from the 16th century, so it might be shockingly modern for some, but most people are comfortable with it now.

When recalling some of the unpleasant and vitriolic differences of opinion of yesteryear on this reflector, I have to say this is jolly pleasant stuff. And very boring.

W6/NC-373 is a handy test case. There is a residence within the AZ. In fact, the summit proper seems to be in their back yard.

Here is a detailed writeup of the first activation.


Please do not leave my subject, with ambiguous explanations.
I do not agree with many of you.
Nor am I learning much, which is what I like.

What I understand according to the rules is:
If you activate from a Boty bag or a tent, it is transported by the activator itself. I would also understand a natural refuge (in Spain corraleta) here some extreme examples:

A mountain shelter offers the same advantages or more than operating from the inside of an automobile (even if the power is with batteries)

I was at that summit months ago. My operation was from the top suffering all the atmospheric inclemencies. Photo 2(The operator is smudged on purpose !!) , shows that inside the shelter is almost like being at home !!!

Maybe, my spirit SOTA is too strict !!!.

73 de Dani EA5FV.

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.


Here’s an example of me operating “indoors” while still being a fully compliant SOTA activation.

There are several other examples!

Is the pub at Crowborough now off limits?

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Nice to see MT members debating one another on the general reflector. The question of whether to ban activations where the summit has commercial power available, but not used, could reach the absurd. There is a Sota summit atop an island in San Francisco Bay, and it has a pair of very professional-looking electrical outlets at the high point next to a picnic table. I never checked them to see if they are energized. Am I required to do so before each activation? After each QSO, for fear they might be switched on at any time, ruining all subsequent contacts? Would those later contacts become valid if I reposition to the bottom of the AZ? What if the electrical outlet has a locked cover, and only the park ranger has the key? What if he/she is acquainted with me and would unlock if asked?

Elliott, K6EL
Sota MT


What if there was no lie
Nothing wrong, nothing right
What if there was no time
And no reason, or rhyme

An electrifying bit, Brian


HNY Elliott,

I was thinking much the same thing. One of the strengths of the SOTA Rules and also one of it’s weaknesses is that they do not cover every eventuality. In fact the MT have rarely (never?) sat together or had a telephone hook-up and debated the Rules, preferring sometimes to make it up on the run, based on the Spirit of SOTA or some other nebulous authority. In this instance some general membership input has been well to the fore and the issue well aired. This has the advantage that we all know what is happening and although it hasn’t happened this time there is always the possibility of one individual perhaps making a sub-optimum decision OBMT.

If someone keeps pestering me over a point my answer is always no. Not fair or logical but it stops the noise.

As SOTA is for personal achievement it should be a personal decision as to whether to operate inside man made structures in the AZ. The shelter that started the discussion is pretty posh and I would operate inside only if the weather deemed it safer to be in than out.

I have activated from 2 peaks that have restaurants built on the summit and briefly thought about activation on their balcony while being served fine food and beverages. It would not contravene the rules (over the top but legit IMO) but I opted for the edge of the car park for one and down the hill in the parkland for the other.

What if there were no truth
No ryhme nor any reason
Then there would no more time
Just this, a load of tripe.


Not so, Ron. I don’t know where you got such strange and dispeptic ideas from, but I never saw you sitting in on MT discussions of the rules at meetings!

If you look at the GR you will see that it is issue 1.20. The last issue that was published was issue 1.16. Doesn’t this suggest an orderly evolution?

In fact in 2013 it became apparent that the GR were in need of a lot of revision as expansion of SOTA around the world brought complications that had not been anticipated, and I undertook the task. I took my time over it, some changes were easy and obvious, others were agonised over and discussed at the annual MT meeting. By late 2014 I had a new version ready for discussion, this would be version 1.17. This was posted on the MT reflector and was thoroughly disected over a period of several weeks and some of the sections rewritten (more than once in some cases) until finally version 1.20 was ready to be launched.

You see, Ron, the GR are not a hastily thrown together collection of ad hoc decisions but are carefully considered and evolved in a controlled manner.

If you have carefully read the GR, you will know that there is no such as “general membership”! Read 3.12.7. SOTA is an award scheme, not a club. It has participants, not members. Although the MT is quite happy to have the rules discussed they have sole responsibility for those rules and will adopt or reject suggestions on their own authority whilst endeavouring to remain true to the intentions of the original founders of the scheme.


Hi Brian,

Sorry, I hadn’t intended to be offensive, merely comment on how things look from here. The evidence of regular meetings of the MT is invisible here. That of course does not mean that they don’t happen and I note your comments about same. I have some strong views on management of NFPO and Clubs, but had better shut up.

This discussion has been refreshingly open and that’s good in itself.

This is a pastime and we should not take ourselves too seriously.

I’ll go and sit in the corner for the rest of the morning.


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If you must sit in a corner, take a few beers with you!


Well said. It is very difficult to know what happens on the other, upside down, side of Earth.

73 Andrew VK1DA VK2UH

We (MT) have another copy of this forum software running for discussions etc. Current topics are the December updates where an email address has been changed, the approaching February updates listing status of DB updates and docs updates, our own discussions on ideas and events. It’s also used for the “contact MT” feature, when someone uses that the message ends up the MT forum for joint or individual processing. Then the summits team use an online cooperative kanban system for managing work on association updates. And there’s email.

We’re in contact all the time, though subject matter can drift from SOTA directly.