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SOTA Activators: Please read

The SOTA MT want to remind Activators of an important responsibility for a SOTA summit activation to be valid. The SOTA General Rules state this requirement clearly:

3.7 Rules for Activators: All Expeditions must use legitimate access routes and comply with any local rules regarding use of the land. In particular, Activators must ensure that they have any necessary permission to operate from their chosen Summit, or that access is customary.
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In particular, Activators should be satisfied that there is no indication that access to the summit is forbidden, as access is subject to change. Here checking access rights means checking websites, maps, notices in the nearest village or tourist centre as well as onsite footpath notices. Activating a summit where permission has not been given or implied by ‘open access’ will invalidate the activation.

The SOTA MT recently deleted a North America W7A Activation where there was clear violation of this summit access rule. Violations of this type have a negative impact on the SOTA program and we will not hesitate to protect the SOTA program in the future.

K6EL, N7UN
OBO The SOTA MT

5 Likes

Hi Guy,

Is there any point then in keeping such restricted summits in the SOTA program ?

Cheers,
Razvan M0HZH / YO9IRF.

Hi Razvan,
I think the key point is authorisation. A summit may be marked as “no unauthorised entry” or simply “no Entry” both of these are aimed at the general public and someone who has gone to the trouble to obatin permission to access the summit can ignore the signs.

I know in Australia, many summits are on private farm land but in most cases the farmer can be approached and he will give his permission.

Taking these summits out of the SOTA program would remove their usage from everyone.

There may be situations, such as when a radio transmitter is on the summit, that a request for access will be refused, however if the engineer who services the transmitter happens also to be a Radio Amateur, he may decide to activate the summit while there running checks on the transmitter.

Ed.

1 Like

Good evening Ed,

I’m playing a bit of the devil’s advocate here (in the benefit of the community, I hope), but one can object that if most activators are not allowed then it’s not really fair game. Most people know SOTA is not a competition and it’s about getting socially-awkward overweight people like myself out of the shack :), but I’m sure some will see it as a bit frustrating especially after they put the effort in it with the best intentions (probably the guys with the deleted W7A activation might feel like this for one).

Razvan.

Yes.

The SOTA program lists summits which qualify based on the physical characteristics of the summit. Access restrictions are normally a man-made issue such as private land, military installation, border area, fragile eco-system, radio telescope etc. etc. These mad made restrictions come and go as the use and ownership changes. As Ed says, if you ask you may well get permission. So we list summits because they meet the requirements and it is up to the activator to check access is OK. If we were to add and remove summits as the access changed we would spend a lot of time changing the summits lists for no real gain. There are summits which were originally 100% out of bounds that now have 100% easy access and the MT did not need to amend the summit list.

There are cases of genuine error and there are cases of genuine deliberately ignoring restrictions. There are many more cases of genuine error than ignoring access rules and it’s not that long since an activator removed his activation when he found out he didn’t have permission to operate where he did. He removed the activation himself without prompting and I have a huge respect for people with such integrity.

If we have had to remove an activation then we have had to do it less than 5 times out of a total of 203500 logged activations. This says that SOTA activators and chasers are probably the most honest and rule abiding radio hams out there.

1 Like

Razvan, so far SOTA has 102,678 summits of which 24,141 have been activated. If a few summits are going to need special permission it won’t change the fact that less than a quarter of the total number of summits available to us have been activated. There are in fact huge numbers of summits which are fair game, as you put it, and there is no need to walk all over the rules and activate summits which are currently unavailable. Claiming summits which cannot currently be activated under the rules is as much cheating as is operating from a car parked at the foot of a hill.

It might be frustrating to have an activation deleted because the hill could not be activated under the rules, but the frustration is self inflicted: the rules are available to everyone and in several languages, and all it takes to find that an activation won’t count is a bit of research before embarking on the activation.

According to the database there has been 203,499 activations so far. I can count the number of activations that have been deleted for breaking the rules on the fingers of one hand. SOTA people are careful about the rules!

Brian

Hi Razvan,

Access to this peak is open in the winter months when snow covered. It is closed when not snow covered. Access permits are readily available when the summit is snow covered.

This particular activation was during the summer months when the summit was closed.

Guy/n7un

Why have any references been given for summits that can not be achieved on paths?
There are areas (for example Natura 2000 protected areas in Germany) where it is not permissible to leave the paths! The summit Oberer Eibenstein DM/BM-371 is located in a FFH area, as can be seen in the map:


(Source: http://www.geodienste.bfn.de/schutzgebiete/#?centerX=3754108.127?centerY=5474852.882?scale=25000?layers=543)

Didn’t the MT inform themselves about the protected areas in DL, when it revised the summits in DM?
(e.g. the summit of Schloßberg DM/BM-078 is accessible via hiking trails and is only 2 meters lower than DM/BM-371.)

At DM/BM-371 the Open Cycling map shows a very clear track going close to the summit (certainly well within the 25m vertical Activation Zone), which I would expect could be used for an activation without leaving this track in this protected area.

in fact there’s even a (smaller) numbered track right to the summit:

Perhaps DF7FX could comment as the last activator of this summit in April of this year?

73 Ed.

Hello Ed,

here is a map with the hiking trails around Oberer Eibenstein from www.bayernatlas.de:

73 de Tom

I guess it’ll come down to which map is correct, (The Open Cycling and 4U maps appears to have more detail but they could be out of date of course) which is why, if he’s reading this, it would be good if Harry DF7FX could say what tracks he found in April.

Ed.
This from the Reit und Wanderkarte site appears to show the same tracks as the other two and I find tends to be accurate:

Dear Thomas,

This has no bearing on whether or not a summit is included in the programme. The criterion for giving a summit a reference is that it meets the prominence criterion for the association. We cannot and we will not remove summits on grounds such as safe or legal access. We cannot be expected to research summits in such detail. This is a world-wide programme covering areas with many languages and often information available only locally on the ground. If we were to remove otherwise-qualifying summits soon people would make assumptions - “I thought private summits weren’t listed” or whatever. So let’s be clear - we list everything, even if covered with a mine field, home to the rarest of rare plants, owned by a vicious gun-toting ham-hater, or whatever.

In the example you give, why not add this information to the summit page:

http://www.sota.org.uk/Summit/DM/BM-371

Activators need to research their intended summits to assure themselves of access / safety matters and the summit page is the place to start. So if you can contribute anything useful please do so. Activators please note, of course, that a blank summits page should not be read as “no problems with this summit”!

73, Simon, Summits Team

1 Like

This…

It is far more likely to be found if posted to the summit page.

Thomas, you seem to have missed Andy’s reply in post 5 above, so I will repeat it here for you:

“The SOTA program lists summits which qualify based on the physical characteristics of the summit. Access restrictions are normally a man-made issue such as private land, military installation, border area, fragile eco-system, radio telescope etc. etc. These man made restrictions come and go as the use and ownership changes. As Ed says, if you ask you may well get permission. So we list summits because they meet the requirements and it is up to the activator to check access is OK. If we were to add and remove summits as the access changed we would spend a lot of time changing the summits lists for no real gain. There are summits which were originally 100% out of bounds that now have 100% easy access and the MT did not need to amend the summit list.”

This is covered in the preamble to rule 3.7.1 in the General Rules, the onus is on the activator to check the access.

I would add that in fact the presence of paths do not mean that the summit is available for access, they may be there just for the benefit of the land owner, similarly the absence of paths does not mean that the summit cannot be accessed, for instance some summits can only be accessed by rock climbing or scrambling and no path is possible though the routes may be well known.

Of course, we can never be sure that a path featured on a map is actually there on the ground. It could be a case of the mapmaker placing a fake “path” in his/her map to identify those people who try to copy it, OR to distinguish their map from other, lesser, creations.

Over to T-REX for more on this fascinating possibility: http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=3126

The law (in german Naturschutzgesetz, Verordnung) says, don’t leave the ways/paths, not the landowner.

Sorry, but this rule isn’t useful when summits are added and you can not legally activate them.

This issue came up when we were sourcing summits for parts of VE7. We chose to include/discard summits at the Association level based on the current access restrictions, taking into account the type of restriction and how likely it would be for members to get permission. For example, summits in areas that were restricted to the public because they were in municipal watersheds were left off the list because of environmental and health concerns, while summits on private property were left on the list because a person could petition the landowner for access if necessary.

It is interesting to see a real person (Thomas DC1TRX) now commenting on this summit. The MT have received many, quite unpleasant, emails demanding we remove this summit from the list. They come from someone who uses an email address of the form "no@visitors.de". His beef is not that this is a nature reserve but it is a private hunting ground and visitors are not allowed anywhere and he is fed up with people asking about access. However, as he always has written to us in way to hide his real identity we have not been able to tell him how things work. This idea that this is private hunting land seems to be outwith your comment that this is a protected nature area. You don’t normally go hunting in protected areas!

The summits listed are those that meet the criteria for SOTA (P150 or P100). That’s it. If it meets the requirements then the summit goes in the list. The list is merely of summits that meet those requirements. Nothing more, nothing less. It is nothing to do with whether you can access them, nothing to do with granting you permission to ignore any local laws. It is a list of P150/P100 summits. Period (as they say).

Rules about private / public land, access rights etc. vary around the world. The rules vary within the UK. So SOTA rules say you, the activator, must ensure you can visit the summit legally. It doesn’t say how you find out that information. It places the onus fairly and squarely on the activator. It’s nothing to do with SOTA and / or the MT if you break the law, we’re not encouraging you. Far from it, we have a rule saying YOU have to be ensure it’s LEGAL and we have reiterated this rule many times in public.

The two things work nicely, a list of summits and rule saying it’s your responsibility to check you are legally OK to access that summit. This is not rocket science, this is not something that is difficult to comprehend and understand.

So the MT will continue add summits that have free an open access, summits on sensitive military locations, summits on religious grounds, summits on private land etc. The access rights are nothing to with whether a summit is P150 or P100. The access rights, are “not my monkeys, not my circus” to quote a recently popular expression. Anyway, access rights can and do change and we are not tracking them. That is something for the activator to keep in mind.

In the case of this summit, where in my opinion, a campaign is being mounted to have it removed, there will be no changes. It has the required prominence to be listed, therefore it is listed.

If Thomas, you think that previous activators have broken the law then you should contact the AM for this area and point out your concerns to him. He can decide how he wishes to deal with your complaint.