I love everything about SOTA, but my favorite thing to do is to make 10 meter QSO’s while I’m activating. Last year, I noticed that the Activator Roll of Honour on the SOTA Database could be filtered by Band, so I began watching my results for 10 meters. I was pretty excited last December, when I saw my points total reach 1,000, and my friend Ken @K6HPX posted a Reflector notice that I had reached 10 meter Mountain Goat status.
What I did not realize was that in order to truly “earn” Mountain Goat status for 10 meters, I could only count points from activations where I had made at least 4 QSO’s on 10 meters (regardless of number of QSO’s on other bands). The SOTA Database does not make this distinction, rather it credits points if you make at least one QSO on 10 meters and at least four overall. Once this was pointed out, I realized that I had some more work to do. So in 2019, I made an extra effort to try to log a minimum of 4 Ten meter QSO’s on every activation. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the many Chasers who made the effort to listen for my signal on Ten! Sometimes, I was able to get 4 or more contacts from Chasers located within a hundred miles or so (ground wave works fairly well on 10 meters from a mountaintop). Other times, I was thrilled to hear Chasers from other US States, and even a few times from DX in the Pacific. ZL1BYZ comes to mind as someone who routinely tries to work me as high as possible in the bands. I also was able to log a few DXpeditions on 10 meters.
In 2019, I made 114 activations total, and was able to qualify 70 of those with at least four 10 meter QSO’s. On 18 others, I made between 1 and 3 Ten meter contacts. Of the 26 with no 10 meter contacts, most of them were due to not trying at all, for example when using a QRP rig with limited band options (but there were a few busts). And yes, those 88 activations with 10 meter contacts in my log occurred during a year with something like 280+ spotless days on the sun. Anybody who says 10 meters is dead is flat out wrong.
I finally crossed the 1,000 points from qualified summits level last week, on December 26, 2019, while activating during a Christmas vacation visit to North Carolina. I was on Mt Mitchell, the highest point in the US East of the Mississippi, and my log included QSO’s with hams in North Carolina and South Carolina, including summit-to-summits with K2JB and KW4JM. Later that same day, I activated two more summits and added QSO’s to Connecticut, MIchigan, and Tennessee to my log. Starting in September, 2016, It took me over 3 years and 149 activations with at least 4 QSO’s to reach the Ten Meter Mountain Goat level.
I’ve checked the Database and there are some other very skilled Activators who have made many 10 meter contacts, but if my analysis is correct, it does not appear that anyone else has ever qualified 1,000 points worth of 10 meter activations.
Which means, of course, that SOTA ops are clearly not taking advantage of one of ham radio’s most wonderful bands! Ten meters is “magical” - sometimes it’s a good challenge, others it opens up and surprises you. The antenna requirements are far more modest than 40 meters or even 20. In the USA, it’s open to all license classes. There are numerous daily nets (check out ten-ten.org for info). I think many activators would be pleasantly surprised to learn how 10 meters compares to other bands that are commonly used with NVIS for local communications, i.e. 40, 60, and 80m.
And when Cycle 25 heats up, watch out! Sunspots can make 10 meters go wild, as any seasoned ham knows!
I’ve met my main goal but I’ll continue to try to make 10 meter QSO’s, and hope you do too. Maybe I’ll see you on 28.062 or 28.400?
Oh, and p.s., don’t be surprised if you see more spots for me on 12m and 15m now. I’ve got more work to do