Chasing SOTA summits.

Chasers, logging & spotting… SOTA life would be hard without (declared) chasers but that's just what the early activators faced.  Nowadays, band conditions permitting, you can usually be confident of being chased; the introduction of alerting and spotting systems all but guaranteeing it.  The relationship between activator and chaser is one of mutual respect and the drill is to validate each QSO by giving the SOTA reference, accurately logging call signs and properly exchanging reports.  Chasers can be of great assistance to you; QSP-ing your weak signals on request (apart from the report of course.)  It can make for a more efficient activation, when your call sign, summit ref and QRG are spotted for you on SOTAwatch, early in the proceedings, but alternatively, there's the option to self-spot using a mobile phone.  If summit-to-summit (S2S) working is your specialty, chasers often help by passing details of current activity to you over the air.  Finally, the people you work can become an important emergency communications option, if any problem should develop.

Chasing SOTA summit activators is easy.  Just check SPOTS at the SOTAwatch site to see what is currently on the air.  Check ALERTS to see what is coming up in the next few hours, days or weeks.  Then get on the air and make the contact.  One note – many U.S. SOTA activators will self-spot to www.qrpspots.com.  This is another place to watch for SOTA activations.  SOTA chasing is one of the fastest growing specialist interests in amateur radio today.  Unlike the activators who climb mountains and make QSO's, the chaser does not require any specialist equipment or fitness to get started and in most cases your existing equipment will allow you to start earning points. SOTA stations use a wide selection of operating bands and modes, including 2m FM, 2m SSB, HF SSB, HF CW and even 10 GHz.

Your home QTH will have an effect on your choice of bands and modes.  If you live close to mountains then you can have considerable success with a 2m FM station and a simple antenna, working activators in your own country.  However SOTA is international and you can contact activators throughout the world if you have access to the HF bands.

AWARDS.

The number of points gained for a contact depends on the height of the summit and each summit has a reference number.  In some countries a seasonal bonus of 3 points per summit helps the score along.  Activators issue alerts on SOTAwatch to let you know the times and frequency when a summit is due to be activated.  Chasers may contact the same summit and count the points once in each UTC day.  This encourages chasers to contact the summit even if they have done so previously.  Certificates for 100, 250, 500 and 1000 activator points are available but if you reach 1000 points, you can obtain an attractive 'Shack Sloth' trophy with your callsign inscribed on it.