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Precise Summit Locations

Hello!

I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my FT 857 so that I can get started with SOTA, but I had a rather general newbie question regarding precise summit locations.

Do activators use a GPS to ensure they are at the correct location to qualify, or are there markers in place? There are at least a few instances of several peaks being pretty close to each other, and I guess I want to head offf any confusion.

Some videos I’ve watched have shown markers, such a cross, equipment, or even a geocache site at the activation point. Is this common? Many of the peaks in this area are heavily forested, and I want to be certain I’m in the correct place.

I’ll be operating from W3 (Pennsylvania / USA) Susquehanna Valley and PA Dutch Country areas. I’m thankful that the local organization did all the work to get this started. It appears that not many people have given this a try, but it looks like a lot of fun. I hope to get our Boy Scout troop involved as soon as I get comfortable with the process.

Thanks for any comments and/or advice.

Eric…
KB3UYT

Do activators use a GPS to ensure they are at the correct location to qualify.

Positive on this. Although you may find out that the highest peak on the summit does not always correspond to the coordinates you got from the ARM.

73 Norby

In reply to KB3UYT:

Eric,

I make use of Google Earth a lot. This gives me a very good idea of what the summit looks like, what my views are likely to look like, a general idea of the approach route, altitude gain, etc. I also try and find photo’s by previous hikers. Sometimes these photo’s are very helpful, sometimes not. Not all summits are marked so some common sense is required. Good Topo maps are indespensible for route planning and on route navigation. I also research approach routes on the internet and use hiking guides to get an idea of route difficulty, estimated time etc. Of course in this part of the world we don’t have the problem of forests so I would guess that a GPS would be the most accurate way to determine summit locations for you. My advice would be to not rely on the GPS completely but rather to use it as a backup/confirmation device. I don’t carry one here. I do however carry a compass, always.

Nice to see more interested people. Good luck and look forward to working you from a summit sometime.

73, Adrian N6vdR

In reply to KB3UYT:

Where the position of the summit is indeterminate, for instance a plateau or a very gentle dome, you only need to ensure that you are within the activation zone. In fact if it is a very popular summit, you will get bothered less if you move as far from the actual summit as the activation zone will permit. Of course, it is nice to touch the summit first, but not essential.

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to KB3UYT:

Hi Eric,

Some of us even send GPS position packets from the summit. For example me last Sunday

http://aprs.fi/f5vgl-7

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

Well some of the summit coordinates are quite inaccurate in the database.
I am planning a hike to Slovakia (a pity there is no OM association yet) and will try to activate SP/BZ-001 - Babia Gora, a peak on Polish/Slovak border. Now my Novice license is not valid in Poland so I would operate from Slovak side as OM9/OK9HAG/P, I guess it is within the rules.
When I checked SP/BZ-001 on Google Maps, it shows about 700m north and 400m down from the actual summit! Guess I’ll take summit coords with my GPS and send an update to the SP association manager.

In reply to OK9HAG:

Activating a SP reference from OM ground is within the rules even if the border line crosses the summit? How come?

73 Norby

Activating a SP reference from OM ground is within the rules even if
the border line crosses the summit? How come?

ok I have checked the General Rules and it is probably not (3.7.1, points 2 and 13), guess I’ll have to wait for the OM association or upgrade my license :slight_smile:

Back to the original posters question: there should be benchmarks / trigpoints at most of the summits. You have mentioned geocache sites at the summits, check the NGS benchmark database at http://www.geocaching.com/mark/ - they have a link to the original datasheet describing the benchmark location there.

In reply to OK9HAG:

We have a summit that straddles the border between G and GW. It can be activated with either prefix depending on the operators position but is scored as GW. The border might go through the middle of the summit but the AZ goes all around it, you cannot put part of the AZ out of bounds because of a prefix change.

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to KB3UYT:
Eric,
Yes, I always use GPS. I usually activate the Adirondacks in Upstate NY. Likewise a lot of the summits are heavily forested and afford zero view… never mind knowing if you are at the correct summit for the activation.
I just create a route and save it to the GPS at home, then you’ll know when you are in the AZ and you’ll also have a route to work from if you happen to wander off the trail ( if there is a trail of course).

Hope to work you from W2 !

73
Andrew

K1YMI / GM1YMI

In reply to OK9HAG:

there should be benchmarks / trigpoints at most of the summits.

True, but the trig point (or whatever) is not always at the true summit - although in most cases, I would expect it is within the AZ.

In reply to G8ADD:

We have a summit that straddles the border between G and GW. It can be
activated with either prefix depending on the operators position but
is scored as GW.

That is a slightly different case because both countries involved are covered by precisely the same licence.

A literal interpretation of general rule 3.7.1 point 2 would permit the G/GW case but forbid the SP/OM case. It is almost certainly not what was intended when the rule was drafted, but it says what it says.

It would be good to have an MT ruling on this. It is arguable that point 2 of this rule should end “… in which the activation takes place” rather than “… in which the Association is based”.

In reply to M1MAJ:

I believe that the case is sufficiently covered later in Rule 3.7.1 where it states -

  1. Where the mountain peak has been issued a reference number in two or more Associations, the Activator may claim points each Association provided that the Operating Position is always within the jurisdiction of the appropriate Association. Unless the licensing regulations decree otherwise, the position of the Operator is deemed to be the Operating Position. The same peak may be activated for points once per year in each Association.

Although Slovakia does not yet have its own SOTA Association, I think that the intention of the rule is clear - you have to be within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority of country A to activate a summit listed in the SOTA Association of country A.

Maybe it’s an item to clarify in the next update of the General Rules, although I am a great believer in the simplest form of rules to convey the message. After all, we are encouraging a healthy hobby rather than drafting an international treaty!

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3VQO:

I believe that the case is sufficiently covered later in Rule 3.7.1

I disagree. We are talking about peaks which have NOT been issued reference numbers in two or more Associations. Therefore this clause (13) cannot possibly apply. It is a very different case.

you have to be within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority of country A
to activate a summit listed in the SOTA Association of country A

In which case you are disagreeing with Brian, who believes that you “cannot” exclude part of the activation area merely because the callsign prefix has to change. Well of course you “can” - the rules of SOTA are arbitrary (in the sense that somebody thought them up). They can say whatever the MT wants them to say.

I think this inconsistency demonstrates that the matter needs clarification. I do not presume to guess what the MT might have intended.

There is a hybrid case that needs covering too. Suppose that the activation area contains the territory of THREE countries, and the peak has a reference in TWO of them. If you activate from either of those two, the situation is clear - you must use the reference belonging to the country you are in. But what if you are in the third? Can you choose either reference? Or is no valid activation possible? Remember too that activation area rules are specific to an association, so the same physical peak might actually have two or more different activation areas.

we are encouraging a healthy hobby rather than drafting an international treaty!

Agreed, but somebody has asked the question and is getting conflicting answers. The MT should (a) decide now and (b) clarify the rules at leisure.

In reply to KB3UYT:
If there is 3G available near the summit - check out my post:
http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=4675#foot
to use wikitude and the Database to find the right-spot/summit

Greetings
OE2WNL

you have to be within the jurisdiction of the licensing authority of country A
to activate a summit listed in the SOTA Association of country A

To me that says it all. You cannot activate a summit unless you are in the correct country.

Stewart G0LGS

In reply to G0LGS:

To me that says it all. You cannot activate a summit unless you are in
the correct country.

IF the rules said that, yes it would be perfectly clear. But the rules DON’T say that. That is just somebody’s interpretation of the possible intention of a rule that does not apply in the case we are considering. And you have put a slightly different interpretation on it again!

What you have suggested above would invalidate several activations that have taken place on the G/GW and G/GM boundaries, including a couple of mine. Nobody suggested they were invalid at the time. Is that what you intended to suggest?