Motivation for SOTA activations

When SOTA was first mooted in VK I was keen to join in and my competitive desire drove me to start in the first month that VK3 was live.

Some 10 years later I have just wandered up to MG status and I have met many fantastic operators along the way - both face to face and on air.

My initial motivation was the chase for points, later it was something to do while taking children to various parts of the state, then verification of the multiple updates to VK port-a-log and the past couple of years to just get out and get some exercise.

Unfortunately my family history of poor quality knees has now made the longer walks more difficult and much slower then 10 years ago.

With 1000 points in the log now I’ll probably restrict myself to shorter walks from here on.



Wow, I never expected such a great response! Thanks everyone, it has been great reading everyone’s thoughts on SOTA. I will say that this coming week I might have a chance to bag 3 easy summits in TN on a family vacation. If I get to they will definitely be get up/get down with 4 qso’s as soon as possible!


This! Couldn’t have said it better.

For me, the length of time on the summit is usually short as I try to fit SOTA into my work and family schedules. The multi point summits are all 2-3 hours away further complicating things. So many of my activations are short but very sweet!


I think most of my thoughts and motivations have been mentioned already above.

As for the question of whether 4 contacts are enough, I have rarely needed to limit an activation to 4. I usually want to qualify summits on both ssb and cw, then I want to qualify on at least 40 and 20m. If 17 is working well I like to make at least 4 there too. And finally if there are lots of chasers on the band, I like to work anyone who is there. When near a population centre I will monitor 2m fm simplex, call CQ occasionally and answer any calls there too. That normally adds up to 30 or more contacts, we don’t have as many chasers here as there are in EU or NA. If the chasers are still calling I usually stay until there are none left to work, unless weather or battery or daylight run out. It is different on a multi-summit activation day, in that case I make a minimum of 4 on each mode if possible then close down and move to the next summit.

Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


I guess my motivation has been quite different. The 4 qsos have rarely been of concern of difficulty. I started because I hurt and felt old lol. I wanted a reason to get out more and when you feel you have seen every tree, bird and flower it becomes hard to push yourself out the door. I was already an avid outdoor/nature person, birding, wildflower and plant identification, forager, hunting, camping, etc but never did summiting or really much hiking at all, just a wanderer of the woods. But now radio was in my life too. I had already been doing portable operations and loved it. I started the day before a monumental birthday and hauled about 30# of gear up to my first summit and was in awe of the number of qsos, but more so the support that followed. Advice, welcoming emails, better and lighter gear info, but most of all-friendship and camaraderie. An underground community I did not know existed. It was fabulous. I fell in love with being on top of the mountains and in the heavens.

Long story as short as I can make it, I soon ran into medical issues that limited my abilities and experienced some very painful loss of family to suicide soon after. Not to mention covid and our close towns burnt to wildfire. Devastation was everywhere it seemed. SOTA helped me keep going forward. Bringing something to the days that never seemed to have a negative, always very positive full of dozens of “GM AMY” during a very difficult chapter of life. Just one more mountain, can I do it? Will there be another mountain, is this the last? It became my PT and my mental health journey. SOTA is a great activity for personal goal setting, starting on a short hike and working my way to larger summits, new mountains, longer treks. At the same time separating myself from difficulties, even if just for a day. It IS healing.

This may be a bit of a different motivator than some, and much more on the personal side, but I have learned that I am not the only one in the SOTA family walking this journey. You all are some unique, amazing people and few realize how much you help some of us, each and every day.

73 and keep trekking…


Eat … Sleep … SOTA … Repeat :slight_smile:


I was on the telly again at the weekend. The problem is - it’s getting in the way of me getting out on the hills!

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@MM0EFI I’m guessing you tried to gate crash the rally so the mini had to tow you off the track?? :rofl:


My motivation is the combination of two hobbies I enjoy a lot: (Obviously) hiking and ham radio. Because I enjoy both I do not look for the minimum. This means I often don’t take the easiest and shortest way to the summit, and whenever feasible I do more than 4 QSOs.
Thanks to SOTA I found many new (for me) and fascinating summits and areas of our country which otherwise I probably wouldn’t have visited.
73, Fritz


I’ll offer a motivation. For the one out here that is unable to safely activate a summit, I treasure the QSO. I operate SOTA QRP, so most often, WE have accomplished a valid 2-way QRP contact. The competition involved in getting through adds to the fun. A huge part of SOTA for me are the write-ups of your activation, beautiful pictures and the occasional YouTube video. Believe it or not, activations are a service appreciated by the envious ones at home.

My main request for activators is that you stay safe and if that requres a buddy going with you, all the better. I’d rather have an empty log than have a fellow ham injured trying to get on.

Happy climbs. 72


I think that many want to blame Morse, when the real problem is what they did not want to study or make the effort to learn Morse. If we compare the number of new hams today with the number of new hams 40 or 50 years ago, I would say that now without the Morse requirement there are fewer hams or possibly the same. Those who made the effort, obtained it and those who did not want to make that effort were left watching from the outside.
I obtained my first license in 1994 (Argentina) and in those years ALL applicants had to take a transmission and reception exam at 10WPM.
I took the course at a radio club and I remember that 99% of my classmates hated Morse but they wanted to obtain their licenses and to achieve this they made the effort and successfully passed the part corresponding to Morse. When we got our licenses I was the only one who stayed with the CW and the rest went into other modes or just dropped the hobby.
The Morse code used to be a requirement but not a barrier as many want to show it.

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I was part of that 99%, licensed in 2000 not long before the Morse requirement went away. Personally, I think you’re seeing survivor bias – the 99% of people who hated learning morse were people who really wanted to get their tickets. There’s no shame in being an amateur with only moderate motivation. Casual is great. But they were all weeded out of the process.

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Yes! Because that 99% really wanted their licenses they study and practiced hard the code, because they understood that was just a requirement and not a barrier.

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I think there are many more issues than motivation for learning morse. Simplifying it to this group and that is not fair to the many people who for their own legitimate reasons, find morse difficult to learn or use. Some have difficulty hearing keyed tones and translating those noises into the symbols. Some have tried learning before but were apparently using a method that wasn’t suitable for their learning mode. And they cannot tell you what their learning mode is.

Past difficulties can form an impenetrable barrier and nothing you or I say will get them past that barrier. No discussion of how few characters there are to learn, or how repetition is the key to learning will help those potential learners. They just find it difficult, too difficult to begin learning yet again. I feel for those people because they have tried and now find it just impossible to start again. Like learning juggling, there are a lot of things going on here, and no amount of theory will help. I still haven’t learned to juggle 3 balls. But that does not make me a lesser human.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


Before SOTA there was backpacking in the Calif. Sierras, and always carrying a modified 5 transistor radio and xtal based transmitter. Then there was the KX1 portable radio. Pre SOTA used this for a few peaks. When SOTA was launched I modified trips to target peaks along the way. Great fun. Now as I am getting a few points under my antenna I find myself focusing the mountain trips strictly on peaks. I sure have been up a lot of hills that I would have never known of or wanted to summit.


Dear all

Just remembered that I had written here in the reflector on this motivation topic after having achieved my Mountain Goat in 2019. So I went back to read this and to review it with my experience of 3 more years.

Yes, still true and still simple enough. The core for me is that I don’t do SOTA only as a pure amateur radio activity paired with a pure hiking activity. In general, SOTA for me is giving an additional meaning to a pile of stones called a summit. The summit is in its region, similar or different to my home region and easy or difficult, it offers its cultural environment being similar or different too. And the activator has to be nourished, so cuisine offers further insights that are always different from home.

Thus I enjoy especially SOTA holidays where I can discover the summits from a remote location. My curiosity bases on “Medium te (mundi) posui ut circumspiceres” – “I have put you amidst (the world) so that there you can better perceive all that”, following the ideas of Pico della Mirandola, an Italian philosopher of the Renaissance era.

But the real core for me is that SOTA is an activity with other people: radio partners on the frequency, local people living there resp. visiting and seeing all of this on holidays (or shorter day trips) together with my partner, with four eyes. That provides a feeling to me to be rich in an invisible way. And it supports the fire to continue.

So radio and hiking are somehow only on a second level for me. I don’t need to question my antenna constantly, and I can enjoy simple 1-pointers and their beauty, depending on what my health and age still permit to me.

I take note that some aspects are more and more routine now, so the effect of the SOTA medicine may fade out over time. But I would consider it a wrong way to simply make more SOTA then or do more spectacular SOTA or to do SOTA for its own sake to compensate this routine, like drugs being taken at a higher dosis. I assume that I will keep my bandwith as written above since it has proven now for more than five years for me to have good effects.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ


… in the beginning there was the combination of two wonderful hobbies, as many have written here before.

Today I like to stay on summits for hours, working every chaser and activator I can hear and enjoy nature at the same time. Every now and then I adapt my activation schedule to the times when DX can be heard and worked.

Further motivation includes being on the right side of the pile-up and optimizing my equipment in terms of weight and perfomance.

What I probably like most about SOTA is the comradship among chasers and activators and the fairly high standard by which most SOTeros operate.

73, Roman


I would say that it was a barrier for me. As a young person I made a few half-hearted attempts at learning MC, but never stayed with it long enough. At the age of 57 I finally got my license after MC was no longer required. So, what is the only thing I am interested in doing now? Yes. Morse Code.


Motivation for SOTA activations:

  • Checkpoint for physical fitness

  • Intense family time with daughter (often)

  • Visit places I would never go without this program

  • Being part of a great community, serving the chasers, finding new friends.

73 andy DL2DVE


well, then the problem was not the CM but yours. You were your own barrier (Please, I say it with all respect, don´t get me wrong)
I think many confuse ¨Can do it¨ with ¨Want to do it¨
All without exception, we have capabilities. Some will be faster and some will be slower, but sooner or later we can. The problem is if we ¨Want to do it¨
You already have the ¨Can do it¨, you just have to put into practice the ¨Want to do it¨

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