The Summits on the Air award scheme, which has been going since 2002 when it was started in the UK, has become the most interesting part of the Amateur Radio hobby in Australia as more and more Australian States get qualified as associations in the scheme. The monthly magazine of the national association, the WIA, has featured many articles over the last six months, with one edition having no less than three separate articles on SOTA in it.
The idea of operating portable with low power has always appealed in Australia. The structure of SOTA ensuring that home stations are available whenever a portable station activates from a mountain top, means that doing so outside of the normal contest and holiday times now makes sense. There is a real community feeling between the "activators" (those who climb the summits) and the "chasers" (the home stations) and in many cases activators are also chasers and vice versa.
For some time on the SOTA UK web reflector requests have been made for VK stations to be active on summits at times when European stations are active, either as chasers or themselves out on European summits. With the clock changes in both hemispheres this has now become possible and a few planned activations have been made in the early evening (until dark) hours in Australia and the early dawn hours in Europe. As always safety has to be born in mind and coming back down a mountain in the dark can be dangerous so there are limitations how long an Australian station can keep operating unless he is camping out overnight on the summit.
The biggest of these planned multiple activations so far occurred on December 7th. thanks to the efforts of Andrew VK1NAM organising the event. There were Australian summits active in 4 of the 5 classified associations. Many, many contacts were made between the Australian activators and the European chasers as well as a handful of Summit to Summit contacts where SOTA activators in Europe had gone out to the top of local hills to contact the Australian activators.
There were even a couple of US chasers who managed to work some of the Australian activators however the time difference made a summit-to-summit with the US impossible.
It appears that early morning Summit to Summit contacts between the European activators have also taken place during the event, so perhaps this VK-EU action has also started so additional early morning SOTA activity within Europe.
There is still one major hurdle to get over though. The majority of Australian activators run SSB while the majority of European ones run CW. These planned activations have shown however that 5 watts to a dipole can get reliably around the world, EVEN on SSB.
Main thanks to Ed VK2JI - SOTA manager Hunter Region, VK2 association for this story.