Getting ready for first activation, confused by operating area

Hello! I’m getting ready to attempt my first activation this week since I’m on vacation, and am confused by the activation area in the rules. Do I need to be sitting on the USGS marker on the peak? There is a fire tower on top of the peak I am going to attempt, as well as a pretty bare, rocky top. Is it anywhere along the peak, or do I need to check the map for contour lines?

You can be anywhere on or around the summit high point as long as you are no lower than 25m in elevation below the high point. This is called the “activation zone”. 73 Hal N6JZT PS check the general rules on this SOTA web page Summits on the Air

Adding to Hal’s comment re the 25m vertical location of the activation zone, as you don’t mention a particular summit name or SOTA reference, I wanted to make sure you realise that only some summits are included in the award scheme. The area you are in must have beem surveyed and the summits in the scheme meet a certain “prominence” (i.e. height above land for 360 degrees around the summit). In many countries this is 150 metres (or in the US the close equvalent in feet in some states).

Of course there’s nothing to stop you enjoying some portable operation from a summit that is not in the SOTA scheme. It’s just you won’t get the points in your activator score and you can’t give out points to SOTA chasers.

My apologies if you already know this, but as you didn’t mention a specific SOTA reference number I wanted to check you realised the situation with “SOTA summits” and non-qaulifying summits.

73 Ed DD5LP.

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You never have to be directly on top of a Summit (but I do if I can). The precise Summit might be inaccessible, but perhaps you can get close enough (25 vertical meters - 82 vertical feet per Topo Lines). The steeper the Summit, the closer horizontally that will have to be. For a large flat top Summit the Activation Zone can extend quite far. I only look at the extreme limits of the Activation Zone if for some reason anything closer is off limits to me (Private Property, Government Restrictions, Environmental Concerns, a congested Recreation Area). There can be a lot of reasons. Get as close as you can, and verify on a good Topo that it is close enough. I always research in advance, and then never visit a Summit without a GPS pre-loaded with good Topo. Good Luck, and do thoroughly read the rules more than once.

Thanks for the help everyone! I appreciate it!