Let’s say you decide you want to go for a hike (or even a drive-up) to a nearby hill to try your new rig and portable antenna – plus earn some SOTA Activator points while you’re at it. There are a few simple steps to becoming SOTA Activator, and some rules you should be familiar with before jumping on your radio and calling “CQ SOTA” from a nearby hill top.
Finding SOTA-qualified peaks near you is made easy with these tools. Also the WØ-ARM Reference Manual (PDF) contains a listing of the SOTA peaks and rules for the WØ-Association; the main SOTA web site contains the same information. For a ready-made SOTA trip-plan, pick one of the relatively easy Activation Suggestions along the Front Range.
Announcing your intentions ahead of time gives you the best chance of making the four contacts (QSOs) necessary for you to earn points. Post an Alert at SOTAwatch. This lets the Chasers know when and where you’ll be on the air. Highly suggested reading is Guy/N7UN’s very helpful How to Activate a SOTA Peak (PDF), a 4-page summary of the steps involved in planning; posting an activation Alert; conducting the activation; and completing post-activation activities, such as submitting your log to claim your activation points.
Keep in mind that your final ascent must be non-motorized into the activation zone (the last 75 feet vertically), and all gear must be battery or solar powered (no generators or vehicle support at the station location). You can find SOTA Activator Guidelines (one page) on the SOTA UK site.
Whatever you do, don’t get too bogged down in the rules! Know the basics so your activation is an honest one, but remember that the main goal is getting out with your radio and having some fun making contacts from a mountain top!