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Helping others

One of the best of SOTA’s online resources, I feel, is the information repository. This is navigable via the “Summits” link above.

It seems a little under used, and perhaps awareness of it is not all it could be. Here is an example of a summit information page on here:


There are two ways of posting your information. You can write in directly in as an article, pretty much like the reflector, or post a hyperlink to the appropriate page in your own website/blog.

I was discussing this with Gerald G4OIG and suggesting that he should go through his catalogue of excellent activation reports and get them posted on the summit info pages. Between us we also nominated activators like John G4YSS, Iain M3WJZ and Andy MM0FMF (and several others) who write detailed, informative and entertaining activation reports, who should be encouraged to build up the library of information on these pages. For most, it should be a simple matter of searching for the original report in the reflector, then copying and pasting into the repository.

This all came to mind when I was looking on the pages for NW-033 and NW-036 last week and was surprised to see that Gerald’s accounts weren’t there. Hence I searched for them on the reflector, but couldn’t find them. Thankfully, Gerald has kindly emailed the original text through to me, but wouldn’t it be good if we all got into the habit of copying or linking our activation reports into the summit info pages?


In reply to M1EYP:

Hi, Tom.

Agreed - 100%. It’s an invaluable resource and one I have used extensively in the past when I’ve been going for uniques. Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to help build it up.

I’ve tried to cover the DC, SC, SE and WB summits where there wasn’t already something available but that info might well be out of date now. For that reason, I’ve been adding the date of my visit to my more recent postings as some were entered long after the activation.

It always struck me that there was nothing on the LD summits. I think that would be helpful - despite AW’s little books. I don’t think he knew about SOTA.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

I agree Richard,I too have used the info on those pages especially last year when I first started up on SOTA.

Actually the first time I went up NW-012 I used Joshau’s notes to the letter to get up and follow his circular walk back down.

And I think if AW knew about SOTA he would consider us a Blot on his wonderful Landscapes ???

When I do Haystacks later this year I will have a chat with him at Innominate Tarn and let him know we are a friendly bunch.



In reply to M1EYP:

One of the best of SOTA’s online resources, I feel, is the information
repository. This is navigable via the “Summits” link above.

It seems a little under used, and perhaps awareness of it is not all
it could be.

Agreed. As a total Newbie about to embark on my first forays, I will be relying a lot on previous experiences. And I am very thankful of those who have posted.

In particular, whilst parking details are greatfully noted, walking distance (and time) to summits would help in planning. Especially when combinations are being considered.

I’ll post up my experiences once I get going!

Andrew M6ADB

In reply to M6ADB:

Somewhat continuing the theme I dropped in a load of copies of Trail and Radcom to my local hospital’s men’s surgical ward and was an immediate hit with the nurses. Well worth the effort!



In reply to M6ADB:

Hi, Andrew.

Firstly, I hope you derive as much pleasure from SOTA as I have and welcome to the world of activating.

I’ve added the distance and related ascent of some of my routes in the summits database but many still need updating. If I can help with any summits you’re planning just ask - and I’m sure you’ll get lots more offers of help here as well. I haven’t said anything about timing as that’s a very personal thing and I wouldn’t want to “set a target”!

73, Richard

In reply to G3CWI:

Hmmm, I normally take mine to the Medical Centre on Waters Green, to get either a polite but unenthusiastic “thank you” or a “no thank you” from the various practices. I know where to go next time!


In reply to M1EYP:

I really think the summits information pages are extremely valuable for new activators who are a little unsure of themselves, and are time saving devices for those more experienced activators who are evaluating prospective hikes…those pages really should be beefed up. Tom you are dead on.

I think it would be great if by default the summit page had a Photos link and a Video link that automatically searched for the proper photos…

For example, the South Beacon Page

should have a link on it by default labeled photos that links to http://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?q=W2%2Feh-003&w=640391%40N21&m=pool

which returns all photos tagged with W2/EH-003 in the SOTA group . Of course there should be a similar link for the videos and it should be emphasized to everyone on the youtube and flickr groups that they should tag their photos with the summit identifier. The photo/video links should be added automatically…it should be easy.

I know it sounds trivial to those comfortable with SOTA and the internet, but I think if prospective activators could actually SEE the summit and past operations, they might be more willing to activate a summit. Also, we cannot count on prospective activators to have enough willpower/time to come to an understanding of the SOTA identifier system and do a proper search on their own.

Also I have found that the summit pages do a poor job of giving new potential activators an overview of where the summits are. I send these new activators a copy of the great google earth file at:


But why is the KML hidden away like that? Shouldnt the summits.kml file be available on the SOTA pages without membership required? I think it is the best tool for getting an overview of the summits and I use it myself in planning activations.

In addition, there should be some way to search only for summits in a particular
area which have information listed. A potential new activator should be able to
search for summits within 50 miles of his location that at least already have
some link or external article listed, and it would be nice if they could get a
list of summits near them that already had flickr/youtube content. Its
frustrating for new guys to go through endless summits looking for one that
already has some access information posted. I would also love as a manager to
be able to see on a map where there are “holes”, areas where there is no
information posted for summits. Right now I do not have the tools to see where
the vast expanses of “no information” hills are. If I had those tools…for
example if I could see the “non information” hills somehow highlighted on the
google earth file, I could spend my information searching time much more
effectively by filling in the gaps so that no place was too far from a hill with
information that I could point newbies to.
Another thing that might help would be for the summits to be searchable by
link/article search. For example, it would be nice if a potential activator
could do a text search for major US trail like the “Applachain Trail” and get a
list of all summits that mention Appalachain Trail in their link or article
subject or body. I recently labeled all summits in the US that are on the trail
in the sota summit pages…there are quite a few. In W1 we have several trails
that go over multiple summits. It would also be useful to be able to do a
search for “GPX” to see what summits have GPX trail files posted as articles. I
guess along with that should be a notice somewhere to be sure to put the letters
GPX in the subject of any GPX trail file that was posted. In addition, I would
also like to be able to tag summits with minimum ascent information that was
searchable. For example, it would be great if when I finally found a trailmap
for a summit or analyzed my GPX file, I could look at the map, find the easiest
route to the summit or at least the shortest one with the least vertical gain
(hopefully that was the one I took) and place the minimum vertical
gain/horizontal distance information on the summit page in a user searchable way
so that potential activators who were not fit could easily do a search for
summits with minimal required vertical climb and horizontal distance. Just as
easily, those looking for a challenge could look for hard summits only. I enjoy
the hunt for information, but many people do not, and I can tell you that when I
am feeling lazy it can be quite time consuming to find a hill with say a 100
foot vertical hike. Having summits searchable by minimum vertical hiking
distance from the trailhead would be great. It would also allow the point
hungry to find the best “point return” for their efforts.

I think it would be nice to have a “batch” operation for the summit pages as well.

For example, in W2 the entire
Adirondack region with its 100+ summits is covered by the trail maps of the
National Geographic Park Explorer program
http://www.natgeomaps.com/adirondack_explorer.html The program is a wonderful
and inexpensive resource, but you would only find it if you dug through the W2
manual. It would be great if a link to that program could be inserted in every
Adirondack summit page by batch operation. I have a
few of these situations in smaller areas in W1. Also, I would like to be able
to post links to the regional hiking clubs for the specific areas of
summits…and some of my areas have well over 100 summits…it would be great if I could use a batch operation to tag all 200+ W1/HA summits with the same links or the same article listing the relevant hiking clubs for W1/HA. I know for
myself, the most time consuming part of planning a hike is not packing…its
finding trail maps and access information. Many regions have their own
"clearinghouses" of information…some obscure government agency website perhaps
or an area citizen’s group…I would love to be able to do a batch operation and
tag the regional summits with this information which is not summit specific.

OK so theres my 2 cents and great idea Tom on beefing up the pages!


In reply to N2YTF:

Thanks Tom - I didn’t know about the Flickr group (or perhaps hadn’t paid enough attention)… I do now!

On the other hand, I had found the (excellent) GoogleEarth Summits.kml file - but agree that this should perhaps be more widely (and obvioulsy) linked.


In reply to M6ADB:

It took me forever to learn about the Google Earth file…

I got so frustrated trying to get an overview of where the summits were I asked around for a map on the reflector and then someone told me about the google earth file…what a help!


In reply to N2YTF:

Hi, Tom.

Good ideas for the future but we’ve still got a lot of basic info on ascent routes to input here in the UK.

I was doing some very early planning for my first expedition into GM yesterday evening and was surprised to find that of the twelve summits I checked only one had any information associated with it - and this particular summit is famous anyway and so probably doesn’t need it.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

If you want info on any of the GM summits just ask Richard.


In reply to G4ERP:

There are plenty of sources of information for the Scottish hills intended for walkers. Even the old Poucher book with its sooty black and white photos marked with the routes can still be useful. A favourite with me is “100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains” by Ralph Storer (Warner Books, my edition was £6.99.) This book gives starting points (often with parking info) and a map of the route with details of any difficulties. A good browse around the book shelves of a good climbing shop will always turn up something useful!


Brian G8ADD

No one has mentioned the excellent Summitsbase website which is a Wiki site intended to provide the information on the parking spot and the route up to the summits. I would encourage people to refer to that source as well as the summits pages on this site and to add their own information if they find a better or alternative parking spot and route.

Although I can see what Tom is saying about having Activation Reports directly linked to the summit pages, I am of the opinion that the kind of report that I produce and place on the reflector is not entirely suitable for the intended purpose. Something more precise is required without the frills of who was worked on what mode and what band or what unearthly hour I set out from Northampton.

I guess I will have to do some Draconian snipping of my reports and add in the parking information where it is missing… something more to go on my SOTA-to-do-list!

73, Gerald

without the frills of who was worked on what mode and what band or what unearthly hour I set out from Northampton

Gerald, I couldn’t disagree more. You might well be modest about such circumstantial details, but they all contribute to the information gathering process of the prospective activator.

Is it useful to me to know how long it took you to drive to a MW summit from Northampton? - well yes, it gives me a bit of an idea. Is it useful to me to know what bands/modes you worked from a summit? Definitely!

If you are going to post your reports in the summit pages, then excellent - but no need for editing, draconian or otherwise IMHO.


In reply to G4OIG:
Just for those who dont know, There is still sota on facebook, with 126 members, click the link to add your self,


you can upload photo’s and have a general chat on this web-site.

Steve m0sgb

In reply to M1EYP:

I was going to simply start copying my reports into the summit info but I agree with Gerald (and Richard G3CWI) in that I think they’re more than is needed. So when I remember I type a minimal route info into the summit info section and will leave the report on the reflector. I did a quick route for CS-080 yesterday and I think it took me about 10 mins to dig out the map refs. and type it all in.

From my point of view it’s simply a matter of remembering to do it for each hill. If we all remember to do this then database will fill quickly leaving only the truly esoteric hills blank (in my case SI/NS summits).

Perhaps the only additional feature would be the ability to search for reflector entries on the summit being viewed? i.e. look at CS-080 page and hit a button that automatically does a search for reflector posts containing “CS-080” or “Meall Tairneachan”.


In reply to M1EYP:

I fully respect your opinion Tom, but when building up a picture of how best to tackle a summit, I really need precise information. Personally I can’t see what use the time taken to get to a parking spot from Northampton is to others. For a start not everyone has the use of a flying machine :wink: and not everyone sets off at a God-forsaken hour and so is likely to encounter entirely different road conditions. Such details are an intrinsic part of an activation report as they help with setting the scene, but in my opinion are only a distraction when basic information is being sought.

I would say that no matter how much research Paul and myself carry out in respect of a summit, it is not always we expect when we get there. The phrase “it’s not like this on Google Earth” is often uttered. Each experience is unique, not just for those of us who are on a Uniques trip, but also for such as yourself in respect of The Cloud. No amount of information can tell you what will happen on the day - thank goodness!

73, Gerald

P.S. Regarding the Tarrens report, not guilty m’Lord - I can’t even add the report as it is a dead page.

Fair comment Gerald, and full respect to you if you are going to specifically tailor your reports to the function of Summit page information. That’s more effort than I will be doing, so folks researching anything contributed by me will have to continue hitting the links to my website, viewing the reports and photos and gleaning from that the information they require!

Re the Tarrens, could you not paste the copy you sent me into the “Add new article” window? Just checked, and it all seems to be working here.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to MM0FMF:

Thanks, Andy. e-mail on it’s way.

73, Richard