Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Time distribution

Disclaimer: This not NOT to start argument abt p100/150 but for me at least resulted from that discussion - the amount of total time invested for an activation from door to door. I wonder how much time activators invest for average activations or what time range they allow themselves, especially the distribution between the four parts driving, hiking, setting-up/dismantling, operating. It seems like a rather tricky calculation.

Do you cut operation time or even total outdoor time to less than the driving time to activate a more remote summit if otherwise this activation were not possible? Logs in database may allow a look into bare op-time but that tells nothing about driving and hiking time. I must admit that I only very rarely look for a more leisurely longer hiking route to enjoy this part, but try to maximize op-time on the summit (basically 2-3 h) and feel totally uncomfortable if op-time is less than driving time.

Again: Not aimed at p100/150.

Vy 73, Chris DL8MBS

P.S.: Not included fifth part, the refreshing stop on the way back, because those different grown habits may fill a separate thread :wink:

1 Like

Hi Chris,

Good topic. I often wonder about these things as but some parts could open a completely new can of worms.

As I only activate Unique summits to myself then I am running out of summits close to home. Close to home I mean 100km which I have nearly done them all. 100km does not sound far but where I live it can take 2½ or more to get drive there.

I will happily drive 4 hours or 250km to a parking spot. The longer the drive the longer I want to walk or walk to more summits. As for operating time I will operate 1½ to 2½ hours depending on if multiple summits are being done on the same day. But sometimes I only operate or 30 minutes.

You could not put all this into an equation but I might have a go at it. Here is a bit of info from one of my trips a few years ago which covered 5 mountains (4 SOTA summits)…

Distance driven: 260 miles
Distance walked: 17.5km (without the extra bit at the end)
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1757m, -1475m
Time taken: 10 hours 5 minutes (walk)
QSO’s: 31
Points earned: 36

Read about it here https://2m0ncmcat.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/ben-lawers-gmcs-001/ (with photos) or here Activation of The Lawers Quad (without photos)

I have also walked over some terrible terrain for 17km + to activate and only gain 1 point - it was the hills I wanted to bag, the radio just happened to come along.

Hill walking is my main part of getting out - taking the radio is a bonus but I do enjoy SOTA but I do a lot of hill/mountain walking that I don’t have a radio with me. If I do a short activation then chasing is like fishing - if you are not there at the right time to cast a line then you miss the fish.

Hi Chris

When I started activating SOTA summits, my goal was to achieve Mountain Goat whilst I was still able. As I am semi retired, I didn’t want to spend 10 years or more doing it. So, I try to earn around 200 points per year. I am just over half way now, which is always a nice place to be!

That means that I have to drive for an hour or two each way on each expedition, in order to fit in enough summits.

Having said that, the walking, and reaching a summit for the first time, is the best bit, and I would probably keep doing that now even without the radio. That’s why I am grateful to the SOTA MT and all other activators and chasers who have opened my eyes to this, and motivated me to get out there :o)

I don’t like to spend very long on the summit (my back gets stiff when I keep still, especially in the cold weather), so my activations are usually about an hour, or less if I get a quick response. Once past the essential 4 QSOs, then 20 or 30 contacts feels good - I always work all that I hear calling me, and don’t switch off until I have called CQ a few times with no further replies. Always QRP, often one band only.

My ideal day would be a short drive, a few hours walking to include two or three summits, and then a short drive home. It doesn’t often work out that way, though.

Keep enjoying SOTA however it works for you,


Here at Alps the outing starts typically at 6 - 7 o’clock in the morning and ends at 16 - 19 in the evening. That includes driving, walking and activation for about 1 - 2 hours.

In central Finland you can be back from the early outing between 14 - 16. For the summits in Lappland you need to travel there first. For example take night train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and then bus from Rovaniemi to further north. That is about 18 - 24 hours of travel. Once up in the north you can start to hike in the wilderness. Some of the summits may require one to three days of walking assuming that you walk only 8 - 12 hours/day including breaks. For an average person with about 20 kg of material on the backbag the walking pace is about 3 km/hour on typical wilderness trail. Thus you can not expect much more than 20 km for a typical day. But the pace can be much less in difficult terrain or in bad weather conditions.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL


My nearest summit is a 35min drive there with a 4.6km walk in and would give me 1 point but that is the exception. To get much more that 1 point I would have to drive at least 1 hour, generally 1.5hrs and a similar walk in. The possibility of being able to do 2 10 point summits in one day is is virtually nil and that must be true fro the majority of G activators. To get some idea of driving distances and walking times you would get a lot of information by just reading the activation reports by John G4YSS on this reflector - he provides very detailed analyses of his activation routes and timings.

Due to an interest in Unique summits, I am currently looking at activating summits that are 6 hours travel time away from home. Op time cannot therefore practically be greater than travel time. Indeed, such a principle would only work for the three or four summits that lie within an hour and a half drive time of my QTH.

I have always set activation time to around 1 hour with another 30 minutes for set up / dismantling and itineraries are set up around that parameter. Occasionally activations take longer due to the number of chasers to be worked, but also may be less. Sometimes it has been easy to work 50+ stations, sometimes it has been difficult to work just 4. However, I always try to work everyone that calls and to date have never heard of any complaints from chasers. I guess the phrase is “never knowingly under-activated a summit”.

73, Gerald G4OIG

1 Like

I’ve been a member of one of the local climbing clubs for over forty years, and they hold meets about twice a month, either camping in the summer or at a climbing hut in the cooler months. Typically they organise the travel on the previous meeting night at the pub (of course!) and try and fill all the cars to reduce petrol costs. They arrive at the hut in some mountain or climbing area (not the same thing, they have a meet at Swanage this year for the sea cliffs) on Friday evening, spend Saturday at their chosen activity, a communal meal is cooked Saturday night, Sunday is off out again then in the afternoon its back to the hut, clean up, and head home. Typical cost is about £50 each for the weekend, plus food and booze. My last meet was in mid March to Patterdale, overlooked by Place Fell and the start of St Sunday Crag. Over Easter the gang had a long weekend at Lagangarbh at the top of Glencoe under the Buachaille, and as I said, the Mayday bank holiday is camping at Swanage. If you want to cut costs and experience a wide variety of locations look up your local climbing or mountaineering club.


I don’t own a car. That has reduced my driving time significantly.

1 Like

I don’t have a car either, but here in Korea public transport is easily available, and cheap. My general activation schedule is usually a hike up of about 2 hours, 2 or 3 hours on the summit, then a hike down, which is again about 2 hours. This is obviously a whole day, especially in the colder months when the day is shorter.

I can choose certain hikes with shorter ascents and descents, but the time on top is usually at least 2 hours as it takes me that long to get 4 contacts (I use 2m and 20m but it’s sometimes sparse here). I also have to factor in the bus trip or taxi ride to the start of the hike. Because I need so long on the summit I don’t think I am likely to be able to do two activations in a day, unless the summits are close togther. Which they’re not.

To be honest, I have many summits nearby that I can get to easily, but I enjoy SOTA a lot, so I would be happy to pay for transport and accommodation further away just to go on a SOTA hike. For me, hiking is a means to an end, and the activation is what I enjoy most. I know it is different for different people.




Regarding mountaineering and climbing clubs in the UK (im in central london). Ive got one question for the experts here.

I dont see my self able to climb (ropes, rocks pulling your weight with your habds etc…) to be honest but i could do some short mountain hiking or a very short steep ascent. I see joining a club as a reason to become more active.

Are these clubs good for jelly leg people like me? (Not fit at all at the moment) any recommendations around london?


Hi and thanks for the many answers. Of course I’m awfully envy about your time budgets :frowning: My fun is hiking and more it is operating and most of all it is mixing both into those little adventures we all enjoy especially with unknown starting points, routes and more or less friendly summits. Driving adds nothing to that fun but eats up precious time.
If you want to fit an activation into a day with other obligations… More than 1,5h one-way is reserved for complete days off to reach underactivated summits but that driving time detracts from the basic fun - especially as I’m not out for goat (or would reach it at age around 78 which is in some distance yet).
Much more than one hour driving time one way does not feel fine anymore if it is not a long free day. So - to touch the sensitive topic only marginally - choice of summit-types will be decided less by SOTA - at least in the years to come before retirement. But geography offers enough for all.

Hi Tasos,

Clubs are a great way to meet people and share costs etc. Dont worry about climbing rocks and things with ropes, in a decent sized club there will be people a plenty which you can match your skills, abilities and goals.

When you’re ready for harder things (if that takes your fancy) then you can progress with new found friends and gain experience from others too. Don’t forget its a 2 way street and you can teach them about amateur radio. People are bound to ask why your pack is bigger and heavier than anyone else’s :smile:

I don’t know of any specific clubs but a search on British Mountaineering Council is a good place to start.



1 Like

thanks a lot for the info!
Ill check for a local club then

Hallo Chris,

I gues you will find as many different answers as activators…

My situation: I have a lot of summits within 30-40 min drive in my area.
I usually spend about 4-5 hours in total because I like to wake up early, hike, activate and return for having lunch with my family.
That usually gives me about 1 to 1:30 hours of activation.
I like to run both SSB & CW, and sometimes a little VHF too.

Only in special occasions I go for a longer hike. In this situation I plan it with my family to meet their plans also.
In summer time, on holidays I have more free time for activation too. I can plan sometimes a double activation on a day.

Anytime, I like to work as many chasers as possible, to give them the summit. I try to optimise the antenna deployment to be on air as quick as possible and to spend little time for setting / packing.

I think doing afternoon activation is a different scenario, where you can work other countries depending on propagation. But in winter time, luck of sun light forces a bit the early end of the activation.

Hope it helps. Take care VY 73 de Ignacio