Motivation for SOTA activations

Just curious as to the philosophy that most of you have with SOTA. I’m sure it is probably a mix between the two, but for each of your activations are you just looking to get up/get down with your 4 qso’s, or are you trying to make some really great/long qso’s? I’m sure different factors affect this for different activations, but I’ll admit I do have a slight conflict with each new activation between just wanting to get my points, and having some great contacts, or even DX! A fun topic to discuss I’m sure. This weekend made me think about it as I lugged an HT, qrp and 100w radio, mast and chair up a mountain only to get to the top and have a storm start approaching. Luckily I was decently high so I got 6 qso’s just using my HT and a signal stick antenna, but lugging the extra unused gear was painful. Anyway what is on your minds? I’m only 6 activations in so I’m still finding my way with my style and equipment, but I do love it! Thanks!


I personally love the harmony of technology, communication and nature. I am still fascinated by the thought that I can communicate with like-minded people all over the world with a piece of wire - and that through the air. On the way to the summit you are alone, with yourself, your thoughts. Once you’ve reached the mountain and set up, you’re no longer alone. You are suddenly here with friends - by that I mean the many chasers and activators. The points are also part of it, of course. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about the points at all. And then there is the new unknown. I would never have got to know many areas without SOTA. And all this together appeals to me and is the reason why I am still actively involved in SOTA.

And as with everything. You learn and make mistakes and sometimes funny things happen, like taking several kilos with you unnecessarily :wink:

73 Marcel DM3FAM


Since I am surrounded by one point summits, my default motivation is minor triumphs, including lots of s2s contacts (got 5,000), and Sota award certificates with the serial number 0001 (got five).

Elliott, K6EL


Until I reached Mountain Goat, my motivation was to get 1,000 points… :grinning:

Now I like to see how many contacts I can make, and hope for a foreign one or two…as well as looking for S2S.

I also look for Uniques, and Completes when planning on where I want to activate.

I enjoy hiking with a friend for the companionship and safety. If that’s not possible, I enjoy the solitude of the hike and summit.

You will find as time goes on your goals and enjoyments will evolve. Enjoy!


Dave, AE9Q


My motivation is simply the mountains. I enjoy the radio work but just being on a mountain is the main drive. It doesn’t have to be a big mountain, a wooded 1 point summit with no views still gives a sense of achievement when you reach the top and a few QSOs adds to the satisfaction. :slight_smile:


My focus at the moment is getting points to become a mountain goat. At the beginning of the year I’m trying to get as many local summits done to get the winter bonus. As it’s cold and the days are short the main aim is to get the 4 QSOs. However, I don’t stop there unless that has been really hard work. I aim to spend an hour or so on the summit and I can usually work 2 or 3 HF CW bands and tack on 2m FM for the local chasers.

Now that we are in summer I have activated all my local summits so I am revisiting them to get S2S, try out new aerials and just enjoy sitting on a mountain top playing radio without worrying if there is going to be a snow flurry or if it will be going dark soon.

I am still hoping to get more activator points this year. I have had one long day where I did four summits a two hour drive away for 32 points. I may get chance to do something similar.

In December we are back into winter bonus season here so there are a few 2 point summits that I hope to revisit for the extra 3 points.


Radio gives me a reason to get up in the mountains, and the mountains give me a way to enjoy being involved in radio. I grew up in the flattest part of the midwest USA, so living near mountains is still amazing to me. But “go out and hike” sounds too much like work. And I took a 20 year break from radio because I got tired of using my hobby time talking to people I didn’t know from Adam.

But I love the quick QSO when “I’m the DX” – it lets me engage with the technical parts of radio I really enjoy without the rag chewing aspects I didn’t. And “it only counts from the mountain top” is a much better motivator and reason than “just go hike”. Now it’s a means to an end, not work.

I’m still getting my operating skills back up, so I’m perfectly happy with 4 QSOs. And longer distances make me happy. For me the thrilling part is when I hear (or get to answer) S2S. There’s somebody as goofy as me out there right now.

So, I want the views, solitude, and physical challenges of the mountains. I want the technical challenges of the radio. I want the points because I like keeping score. Those are all really enjoyable and personally satisfying. But that S2S gives me a huge grin every time – way more than if I have 4 or 24 QSOs. I’ll keep working as long as I hear people chasing. But 4 is always good enough.


Hmm, for me SOTA has been a great way to get out into the outdoors more, and explore some parts of the country that I doubt I would have been to otherwise. Even some relatively local to me! It has made me set aside time from my busy work life for myself, and disconnect from the ups and downs of everyone day life for a bit. Hopefully one day I’ll get to be a MG, but being realistic it’ll probably take me a few years. No matter though, in the meantime they’ll be lots of adventures to enjoy.

Completely agree with this. I rarely feel alone on a SOTA activation for this very reason.


I used to hunt and fish with my father but when he died it sucked most of they joy out of it. SOTA has been an excuse to go play in the woods again for me. I am still walking a lot of the same ground but doing something he would have found absolutely hysterical…“Let me get this straight… you want to carry all that crap to the top of a mountain so you can talk to people you don’t know? Have you lost your damn mind ???” Not a direct quote but it would be pretty close. :laughing:

His ashes are on top of W7I/BC-040 Tyee Mountain. He convinced us we needed to walk into a lake on the back side of it and go fly fishing. It was the last trip we took before my brother left for college and Dad came down with cancer. It turned into an epic disaster. No fish, a terrible climb back out, heat exhaustion on the way out and my wife abandoned at the airport wondering where we were and why we had not picked her up. My family laughs about it now but it was bad. He laughed when he told us Tyee Mountain was where he wanted his ashes scattered but pointed out we will never forget that trip.



I couldn’t have said it better. I love being alone in nature. With one goal, the summit. And there I meet my like-minded people by radio.
And if I’m addressed in a friendly way because you’ve been in contact a lot, I’m happy.
73 Chris


At first SOTA was a stopgap solution for me.

At home (I live in a valley) I can only fix a small wire antenna on the balcony in low height. In addition, I have a very high interference level.

Portable operation has always been an option for radio operation, and I love to be successful with rather small technology / small effort (QRP).

When I got to know SOTA at Hamradio 2019, I was immediately enthusiastic, especially since I have always done outdoor sports.

So the first motivation was to be able to do proper radio operation at all in combination with an outdoor activity.

Then I came into contact with the point system and my very personal goals and challenges arose… they still exist, but they have meanwhile faded into the background again.
However, with SOTA I also got to know areas that I had never been to before. Currently, the biggest attraction for me is to get to know new landscapes and new summits with SOTA.

73 Armin


For me - every possible motivation, of which there are many.

  • Points
  • New uniques
  • Contests
  • DX hunting
  • Exercise / fitness
  • Trying different bands / modes
  • Adventures
  • Family recreation
  • Website authoring
  • Setting up special S2S possibilities
  • Building / trying out new antennas
  • Holidays

…and so on. That’s just the first few that spring to mind. It just seems that every week I find utterly compelling reasons to do several activations, and it’s been this way for twenty years!


The motivation is to be on the right side of the pile up.



While pursuing the first MG is a large part of the adventure, being outdoors and operating in nature is more of the drive. I’m rarely satisfied with four QSOs, and see it as doing the absolute minimum. Go big or go home.


Absolutely. Sometimes conditions are so rubbish (weather or propagation) that you stop after 4 but the aim is to work a small pile up on a few bands. In winter I will limit myself to 20 and 40m because they are on my small homebrew rig and on the same EFHW antenna. But in summer I try to cover far more although it seems the chasers will find you whichever bands you choose.

1 Like

I can empathize with you. My dad was a ham for over 60 years but I didn’t get licensed until 2016 so I only had about 5 years to radio with him until he became an SK. I know what you mean about losing some of the fun and enjoyment because the first few times I activated I was able to qso with him. Now I do it with some of his lifelong buddies so that is fun. It has been great reading all of these posts!


It’s changed quite a bit over 10 years.

Initially I was just trying to get enough contacts to qualify the summit and rack up activator points. So 2m FM on a handheld, with a decent antenna, was my main way of working. Often more than one summit in a day.

As I approach “triple Goat”, I am now focussed on unique summits and completing activations of all the summits in G and GW. Most of these are done with an 857 and HF. Also usually mostly one summit a day.

When I get abroad I am keen to activate new Associations and Regions.

I like to chat to people (usually on 2m FM), but equally some chasers, particularly on HF, want a quick “contest” like contact and I am fine with that too.

The joy of SOTA is it accommodates all sorts of ways of working and different personal targets.

Find what suits you and work that way. You may also find that changes over time as has happened to me.


I seem to have a very similar approach to you, Gerald. I started out looking for points until I reach 1000 and then I looked for other goals. These are currently completes (with the added complication that I only operate from summits (so they are all s2s) and trying to finish G and GW (but not GM!!) I only use a VX7 (max 5w) and 2m and 70cm (unless in obscure GM land and I really do want to activate the hill…) so this can be a challenge to get any replies at times. I am also passionately interested in getting more people talking on 70cm (except when they hog my favourite 433.475 frequency!!) and enabling them to realise that it is possible to find other people to chat to on this band.

I have been a hillwalker for longer than I will admit but SOTA has taken us to some places we hadn’t found before and quite a few (but not all) are worth visiting! Certainly we have many summits around us (we live on the Welsh Borders) which are on our favourites list and it is a delight to have a reason to go and visit them each year. I am particularly interested in winter walking and acquiring as many of those elusive Winter Bonus points as possible. Would the MT consider letting us accrue them TWICE a year (ie Jan - 15 Mar and again in December…) please, in recognition of the fact that we were locked out of them for some periods in the last 2 years…???

I also enjoy the brief chats with many SOTA friends up and down the country - especially when they remember me from my last visit to their area possibly 4 or more years ago! (I believe this may be because I am an XYL with a different voice - but it might be for my dyslexic recording of their callsigns and general incompetence!!) Above all it is probably a good excuse/motivator to get away from the tarmac and be amongst the hills and, especially in Scotland this year, the wild flowers and lovely views.

73 Viki M6BWA


Nice try, Vicky - but no coconut! :grinning:


Ha ha ha ha ha! Everyone loves a trier.