As 2010 comes down the final stretch, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and thinking about 2011. This year I didn’t do as much operating as past years and I continue to struggle with keeping my interest going. I don’t think I had a casual CW QSO all year and I haven’t homebrewed a thing. I’m not sure why, but homebrewing just doesn’t hold the fascination it once did and it seems tedious. But on the positive side, 6 meters was fun this year during the sporadic E season, despite a rather abrupt ending in August. The Pennsylvania QSO Party was a blast as usual and I finally made a sweep of all 67 counties which was a new accomplishment. I participated in the best Field Day I’ve been involved in for several years and was pleased to operate with some folks I hadn’t seen for awhile. So perhaps while there may have been less quantity, 2010 was likely the year of higher quality.
Looking forward I’ve decided that a new activity and focus in 2011 is going to be activating summits in the Summits On the Air (SOTA) program. Most areas of the world have SOTA associations that designate the official summits with an identification number. You can both collect and activate summits and receive awards for both. My interest is mainly in activating summits.
SOTA appeals to me for several reasons. I’ve always been interested in operating in remote and often desolate locations. There’s some satisfaction in being far away from civilization and establishing communications with a minimal amount of equipment. I love to combine hiking and amateur radio. Operating from the trail gives me yet another reason to hike and gives me goals to pursue.
I’ve also had a desire for some time to go on a DXpedition, like somewhere around Antarctica. I have just about all of the James Brooks 9V1YC DXpedition videos which have stirred up my desire for adventure. Unfortunately I don’t have six or eight weeks for a vacation at this point in my life nor I do I have the requisite $30K to $40K needed for a trip like this. But I can dream. While SOTA summits aren’t like Heard Island or Bouvet, I can make my own little DXpedition adventure.
I haven’t activated a summit yet, but I’ve heard that activations can amass sizable pileups as many people are hunting for SOTA summits, especially in Europe where the program originated and it appears to be quite popular and growing. It seems SOTA is just getting geared up here in the States, with four callsign area associations established just this past year and two others established in 2009.