After reading too many non-helpful summit articles, I’ve made it my mission to write objective, well-described articles for each summit I’ve been on. Maybe it takes the fun out of exploring, or maybe it lifts the veil for others who are unsure. Who knows.
I use the same rubric for each one:
A summary statement about the summit, its location, or some other interesting geographical nuance.
How to drive to the summit’s access.
A description of the hike/approach to the summit or other cautions about the climb.
Notes about the summit itself, including what is located there and the ease of antenna setup.
Anyone else doing this or following a rubric when you write these? Any other thoughts on helping others access summits?
That sounds like a good format Michael. Maybe a comment about mobile phone coverage at the start of the walk (parking spot) and summit would help to know whether self-spotting would be possible.
My one attempt isHere
I think it’s fair to say that far too many summit pages have no reports on them. In some cases only photos (which in themselves ARE very useful). I have documented every single SOTA activation I have done and put a link to those articles on my website (vk2ji.com / dd5lp.com - same site) in the links on the summit pages so that they can be found.
Many people do not have their own web/blog page and hence use the activation reports section of this reflector - which is fine, but I would ask that they also add a link from the reflector thread into the summit page links list as well - again in order to help others who are considering activating that summit.
I agree a formatted report is ideal, and I have my own standard report layout which is somewhat similar to yours but my concern is that when an activator takes the time to write something up (in what ever format), it needs to be able to be found directly from the summit information page.
Every time I upload a track to SOTAmapping, I write a brief review about the trail and the characteristics of the summit (Rocky, with or without trees, room, etc.) and what kind of antennas are ideal for that summit.
73 de JP3PPL
The PNWSota site encourages a number of optional datapoints on summit reports which might be helpful to other activators.
As mentioned already, cel coverage, broken down as: Voice Cel coverage, Data Cel coverage, and which provider(s) are you using.
APRS coverage if you happen to know it, selected from: nothing heard, rx but no echos, good echos, full two-way.
Additionally, you can choose to add a number of keywords/tags that are searchable later:
Pass required at trailhead
Bad / good / no parking at trailhead
Easy / treacherous / shady / exposed trail
Forested / exposed summit
Good / no view from summit
Sometimes the most important elements in our reports are about which forest roads are open vs gated, and what kind of vehicle is required (passenger vs high clearance vs 4x4) to get to the trailhead.
Another critical one is access, especially when you had a failed activation due to access issues. The most useful summit report is the one that simply says “no access, don’t bother with this summit because I already tried and it’s gated/private/reserve land etc”. Save others the pain you suffered.
We do try to always link PNWSota posts from the SOTA summit pages, although there are probably still some orphans here and there. Here’s an example:
The more articles and the more detail the better. There are just too many summits that have been activated but have no articles. If you activate a summit with no articles you really should add one.
I like your format and I would suggest putting in something about how to get a geo registered map of the area with trails. Its not always obvious to traveling hams where to go for good maps of an area. For example in the downstate NY area you want to go to the NYNJTC to download an avenza map to your phone with the trails that is geo registered ( https://www.nynjtc.org/view/maps )
There must be other areas with something similar to avenza trail maps, but no one seems to write about them.
73 and thanks to all the article writers for their efforts,
W1 Area Manager
I totally support your approach to writing AND sharing information on SOTA summits. It’s important that there is ONE best place for this information, and it belongs in the SOTA summits database.
Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve got a great resource in http://www.pnwsota.org/ where most folks follow your outline and provide a link to the SOTA summits database. Everyone with a private blog and every trip report on this reflector could also link to the SOTA summits database and our SOTA community would benefit.
I usually write a report of a summit when it is new for me, and moreover, when it is a first time activation. After years activating for SOTA and publishing such articles, I ended designing my own rubric. This is it:
describe the reason why I decided to activate that summit (sometimes it’s a new one for me, sometimes is a rarely activated summit, or perhaps it’s because I ran a especific radio/ antenna test on it, or maybe it’s because it is near to where I am spending my holidays…)
how to get close to it by car; nearer cities or villages and road listing.
Any specific hints on the climb: path length / height gain. Useful recomendation if mountain sticks are advised, or if certain weather makes the climb any better / worse.
Info about the radio / antenna setup used and any relevant point in my log / bands, S2S, etc. Also any description on where to activate up there.
landscape while hiking / summit / radio & antenna setup
I think brevity in an article is a good thing. The primary things I look for in an article are the coordinates of the parking spot, the distance of the hike, the elevation gain, and if the hike is on a trail or is a bush-whack.
In a second paragraph, the following things might be mentioned:
What supports are available for antennas.
Unusual driving directions in case the GPS wants to take you through a road that doesn’t exist.
If the road can be driven with a sedan or if a four wheel drive is needed.
If the summit proper has a lot of RF noise and it would be better to activate a little down from the top.
If your spots went out by web, text, APRS, or RBN.
What I don’t think is necessary in a description is how windy it was that day, how the grand-kids enjoyed the hike, how many contacts you made, and how you had to hurry to get back for dinner.
So, in short, I just like the basics in an article. Part of the fun of activating is route finding, enjoying the view, and dealing with the weather. If I have an idea of the basics before I go, I can usually figure out the rest. Some of my best memories are of that time when I went a mile down the wrong trail and and had to backtrack.
Also, please write your articles within the SOTA website. I have seen many exterior articles that were written sometime back that have links that no longer exist.
Great points about articles. Whenever I activate a summit for the first time, or activate by a different route, I post directions that are calculated to enable someone else to get to the summit. I usually will mention if the road conditions require AWD/4WD, whether a bushwack is involved, the nature and my sense of difficulty, and wherever is makes sense, coordinates and/or references to maps available online.
Where I have been remiss, and will try to amend in the future, is including cell phone coverage, or whether/how I could self-spot. I also haven’t noted much regarding antenna supports and such. Great ideas here. Room for my improvement!