In reply to M0ZZO:
I would like to say that I am with Brian on this one. I am not not at all convinced by your decision or your reasoning.
Many may be wondering why I as a reasonably prolific activator should be in support of a change to P100 in England. Well, to illustrate where I am coming from (and I have thought a lot about this), I have decided to copy my letter to you as none of the points that you have set out have changed my opinions one iota.
“I write with regards to the possible adoption of P100 instead of P150 in England. I support the adoption of P100 for England as I believe this will encourage SOTA in areas of the country that are currently under-provided for in terms of the number of available summits. Take Devon and Cornwall for example where the number of summits would increase from 7 to 29 and the South Central area which would increase from 13 to 33 summits. You have activated many if not all of these summits and I am sure that you will agree that the addition of summits within these areas would be an enhancement of the programme and a great encouragement to those living in those areas.
I have yet to see a conclusive argument that the amount of effort will be reduced by revision of the prominence parameter from 150m to 100m. Examples can and have been cited proving specific situations, but I remain unconvinced that this would lead to a significant dilution of the awards scheme since the majority of the additional summits would be of a low points value. The inclusion of 210 single point summits and a small number of summits having a higher points value will not suddenly create a rush of activators attaining MG status. Anyway, we are told time and time again that SOTA is personal and non-competitive. If anyone wants to achieve MG status on the current summit-base (and I include myself in this category), then they don’t have to activate any of the P100 summits, but they should not prevent others from wanting to include P100 summits in their tally. To do so is elitist and in my opinion wholly contrary to the spirit of SOTA.
I do not accept that concepts such as “easy” and “serious” should be considered. The grading of a summit is relative to one’s personal situation - SOTA is meant to be a personal challenge. What is easy for one person may well be extremely difficult for another, as I am sure you well know. Furthermore, I do not accept that a change to P100 would affect the character of SOTA in England.
Every activation requires preparation. With more summits it might possibly be easier and quicker to get to a summit, but ascents still have to be made, antennas have to be erected, QSOs made, etc. Besides, there is no evidence of anyone involved in SOTA purposely choosing to activate only those hills that represent the least challenge to them in order to maximise the points gained relative to the effort expended.
Some argue on the grounds of environmental viability. I do not consider this to be an issue that affects the P100 versus P150 argument, though I do accept that as far as possible we have to act responsibly in respect of this issue. Whatever hills there are within the programme, activators will activate them regardless of the distance involved, but we need to apply common sense in respect of how we activate them. For example, ten trips to an area to activate ten summits on ten separate occasions is a total nonsense. We should be looking to economy in respect of our travel arrangements and this goes hand in hand with the cost issue which some have raised. The problem is that in many areas in the southern half of England, potential activators will be put off SOTA as a result of there being insufficient summits within reasonable proximity of each another. Not everyone is able or indeed capable of rushing around 5 or 6 summits spread over several tens of miles such as I do on occasion.
Personally I am happy with the number of summits currently available in the programme since I accept that because of where I live, it is necessary to travel considerable distances to carry out activations. However, I am concerned that the topography of England is such that there are large areas where there is little, if any, opportunity for those living there to participate in the activation aspect of SOTA.
Just one other point – that of access. It has been suggested that P100 includes many private summits with no public access. Regardless of whether this is true or not, we already have summits in the scheme that are on private ground and in respect of at least one of them, Upper Park GW/MW-032, a definite refusal has been issued in writing by the owners. Adequate guidance on access already exists in the General Rules. Summits such as Swinside LD-057 and Myarth SW-035 have already been successfully activated with permission from the owners. I am of the opinion that all P100 summits within England should be included in the programme and selection should not be made on the basis of access, particularly as the situation can change in respect of ownership. This is not done for the current P150 summits, so it should be the same for P100.”
Living as what might be described as “on the edge of SOTA”, I am sorry to see that the opportunity to expand SOTA within England has not been embraced. The issue of whether SOTA is viable or not is totally irrelevant. SOTA will always be viable in the area where the summits are located and there will always be sufficient activators to maintain this. I see this issue purely as a matter of widening the opportunity to participate.