How long on one summit?

Less of the “guilty”! The SOTA rules for a point scoring activation, require 4 QSOs. Four is for a reason. It was never intended that SOTA activations would be anything other than short-term - both for reasons of personal safety, and consideration to other people on the hill.

Now many of us do longer, sometimes much longer activations on occasions, but it is important for everyone to understand that you only need 4 QSOs for the points, and this will not change. Therefore, if an activator, for any reason whatsoever, wishes to go QRT after 4 QSOs (or even after 0, 1, 2 or 3 QSOs for that matter), then that is absolutely fine.


I hope you don’t stop chasing Mike, it is always great to get you in the log.

I try to spend at least one hour on the air from a summit unless chased off by weather or darkness. In summer I prefer to spend at least two hours per activation, but that is just me and each activator has their own goals.
Malcolm VE2DDZ

Hello Mike,

maybe there are a few activators that stop the activation after the required 4 QSO’s … but my impression is that the huge majority of SOTA activators is trying to work everyone that is calling.

I for my part like to stay on top of a summit as long as possible, sometimes up to three hours! But on some activations in summer I only make a few contacts on VHF, just because of approaching rain or thunder. In winter I reduce my HF activations to a minimum … and the only reason are the low temperatures. I also get out on the mountains in winter, but I personally have no fun working a pileup on HF on a cold, fogy and windy alpine summit. That’s why during winter I do short activations and normally on 2m only.

Let’s turn things around and let me tell you how I see things as being mostly an activator. On my activations I regularly come across things i don’t like …

  • these contests on the weekend, when you have almost no chance with QRP
  • when people tune on the frequency
  • when other operators take over your frequency
  • when people call and don’t listen (happens quite often …)
  • when people cause deliberate QRM

I think at least one of these annoying things happened to me on every singe activation (on HF) so far . But I never thought of turning my back on the SOTA programme just because of these things.

So please don’t let this small minority spoil your fun in SOTA!! I hope to work you soon again on the HF bands.

73 Martin, OE5REO


In Colorado, a 10 point summit is one over 13,500 feet. It gets cold at altitude in CO in the winter. I recently bought a bothy bag to make things more comfortable.

My CW copying is still slow and terrible and I think chasers get tired of me trying to copy them and they go away. I am not getting the number of chasers I would like. I am happy to make 10-15 CW QSOs on a summit.

I live in a mountain valley and have a hard time hearing activators. I wish I could chase more often than I do.


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Hi Mike

Last QSO with you from a summit (CT/BL-004) was a few days ago. On that occasion I was able to operate only 11 min because of the Wx (cold, wet and foggy). Condition deteriorated quickly - as often happen in the mountains - and became very dangerous stay longer. The descent was done with 200% attention to the trail track.
Operation was just 11 min but if wx condition change before, operation could took only 3 minutes or be cancelled.

Here, in the summer, sometimes conditions are dramatic. You could have a pleasant 21C at 7AM and 40+C at 10AM…

While it is my desire to stay in the summit long enough to answer to all calls (and how important those are to the particular chaser…), sometime the best/safest solution is to forgot the activation and be back to safety!

This is not a new way of activating and I hope that you understand this. Your presence as a chaser is important to all in the SOTA community!

And a very big thank you for all the QSOs (39) with you from a summit!

Vy 73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF

Initial condx


10min after


My own thoughts on this are quite simple, at the end of the day it is down to the discretion of the activator, plus varying weather etc.
Just recently there seems to be a few complaining about this & that, but the main reason is down to the band conditions on each day and as I have said the activator’s discretion.
Keep up the good work activators.


I think the reason for this discussion and the underlying clash of expectations is that you can approach SOTA from two directions, i.e.
a) as an amateur radio operator who increasingly operates from the outdoors, and
b) as a mountaineer who increasingly adds ham radio operations to his or her activities.

No approach is better than the other, but if you come from camp a), it is often difficult to understand the constraints under which camp b) is operating, because the summits are very different.

As an activator, I would like to say that failing to make 4 contacts on a 10 pointer and leaving with empty hands (and that happens - twice to me in the last 12 months) is likely at least equally frustrating to the case of a chaser failing to bag a rarely activated 10 pointer summit. Plus, the rarely activated ones are rarely activated for reasons, and for the others a new opportunity will soon arise.

I think we should use this forum to learn from each other, and in the end, amateur radios should be fun, and if it is not fun, we should turn to other things.

73 de Martin, DK3IT

PS: You can simply not ask your fellows to stay with you on a summit like SOTA Summits for an hour, because it is very exposed and likely other climbers will have to wait for you to leave before they can get to the summit. I have the greatest respect for @SP9AMH, who was kind enough to spot me on that summit, even though I could not work him due to QRM from QRO stations.


Operating Position:


as activator i have to walk, climb to summit
often some hours and have to go save downhill

“the mountain belongs first to you if you are save down - before you belong to the mountain”

so chasers who can sit in comfortable chair with cat on lap have to accept if activator qrt´s after few qso´s


I accept an activator to end his activity because of cold fingers, rain or snow, or his
friends wanting to leave the summit.
With good aerial at a distance of only some 50 km no QSO possible on 10 activations ?
It is egoistic to end all activations after 6 QSOs or 5 min regardless of weather and
season for years.
I will not try to call or announce him again.

73 es cu on SOTA
Mike, dj5av

Fine, but how do you know? My fingers are cold on 99% of activations from November - March, and my friends always want to leave and are eagerly waiting for me.

So are we talking of 2m FM? Because on HF, I guess it is hard to predict whether a 50km contact can be made via ground wave. And for 2m FM in the alps, I would also guess that there are many reasons why a contact does not materialize.
But then again you said it takes you too long to turn your dipole.

Hmm. First, as others have stated, even 4 QSOs would be perfectly covered by the SOTA rules and spirit of the program. Most activators would stay longer to satisfy more chasers if possible. But a multiplicity of reasons can force you to QRT after 6 QSOs on a regular basis:

  • You always go with non-hams fellows.
  • Your XYL or kids go with you and need to be kept happy.
  • You squeeze in activations before or after other obligations, like meetings, or you have to catch a plane or bus for the return.

It seems you are referring to a single operator. Maybe it would be better to approach him or her directly. For me, the whole discussion creates some negative atmosphere between chasers and activators, while we should try to enjoy win-win situations.

73 de Martin, DK3IT


I protest against an activator doing ALWAYS only some 5 or 6 QSOs and always stopping after some 10 min even if there are many chasers calling.
Mike, dj5av

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o.k. then I suggest you write him an e-mail …

73 martin, oe5reo

Or simply do not chase him or her even if you can hear the call.

From your description (“for years”), I guess you are not talking of me. But still, I will not stop carrying my radio gear on mountaineering trips and posting alerts, even if I will frequently have to refrain from setting up the gear due to weather or mood of the group, or have to do minimal and quick activations of 4 - 8 QSOs.

And to be frank, I think the direction of this discussion is causing as much of negative tensions as the underlying fact that there are such short activations. As already said, if the summits are simple drive-by places, others will activate them again soon. If not, it would be good to try to understand the mountaineering side of the activity.

73 de Martin, DK3IT


It is noticeable and somewhat strange that only a handful of over over motivated top score-hunters complain about a so-called problem if, exceptionally, their success rate is not 100%.

Why not simply imagine that sometimes less can be more, not in points, but in experience - and be fully satisfied with that?

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tnx for your email.

Dear Mike,

I have not heard you on 40 meter while I was activating SOTA. Sorry you missed all the points as top-chaser :frowning: The distance was to short.

I saw the topic on the SOTA reflector. And I also saw your ( not so nice ) text on the SOTAWatch spot. Your text “Always QRT after 5 or 6 QSO’s in less then 5 min. DISREGARD. ( Posted by DJ5AV)” It’s not so nice and not true.

First of all it’s a hobby.
Second: I always cq until there are NO callers. I never stop when I hear stations calling. Even when they are calling and don’t hear me. Before I stop I always CQ and when I don’t here stations calling, I send QRT TU. On my last activation OK2PDT called me after I have send QRT TU. I gave him a report. After that I called CQ and then send QRT TU. So I alway wait for callers. Don’t write that I go QRT even when stations are calling ! That’s a lie !

If you look close at my activation log you can see, that there are also activations with more than 20 QSO’s. That was when I started in 2012. But the QSO rate is dropping. Sometimes, also on my last activations, there are more QSO’s. On Rainen and Heersberg it was 12 and 17 QSO’s. The reason is that it’s around 12:00UTC. And then there are more stations calling.

In your activator log are also al lot of 5 or 6 QSO’s activations. In 2016 from the 7 activations you made 2 activations with “only” 5 or 6 QSO’s.

And as you can see on the Reflector topic, there a lot of reasons for those amounts of QSO’s. For example at Heersberg it was minus 11 degrees. So after 15 minutes I got cold fingers. But I continued. And I made 17 QSO’s.

Here you can see a wrong spot from you at 13:50. Because I still was calling CQ at 13:54, until there was no response.

I wish you all the best as a SOTA top chaser. Good luck and health, and maybe we work in the future.

73, Tonnie


I actually think that posting a spot to discourage chasers from working an activator operating from a cold summit, or any summit, is against SOTA and ham spirit.

73 de Martin, DK3IT


I think that this is a good point to close this thread, it has been well discussed and there is no value in prolonging it.