On January 29th 2011 – I had just rediscovered amateur radio after almost a decade – I was setting up an X50 vertical antenna on the balcony railing. Back then we were living in an appartment on the fifth floor and there wasn’t much room for antennas.
My old FT290R scanned the 2m simplex channels when „CQ SOTA, CQ SOTA from OE9CSH/p“ came out of the speaker. The signal was very loud, above S9 on the tiny S- meter. Who could that be? Judging by the signal strength, that station could not be far away. Since I did not know what SOTA meant, I listened. OE9CSH/p came back for a station I couldn’t hear: He was on a ski tour on Diedamskopf in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg, 150 km away! (see map below)
Listening further, it turned out that Ramon, that was the operator’s name, underwent a so called SOTA activation on Diedamskopf. The summit (2090 m a.s.l.) had the reference OE/VB-473. Ramon was using a FT2900 @ 75W into a Diamond X30. Together with his mountain top QTH, this explained why his signal was that strong! I was deeply impressed that someone took the trouble of bringing a mobile transceiver together with a battery and a fairly large antenna up to a summit.
Now I was curious if he could hear me with my modest equipment and I joined the crowd of callers. At 9:20 UTC we exchanged reports and I happily logged my contact with OE9CSH/p.
This QSO was so impressive that I wanted to learn more about SOTA. As I enjoy hiking a lot, I thought about becoming an activator, too. During the same year I put together my SOTA equipment. It consisted of a home made J-pole antenna for 2 metres, a 1500 mAh LiPo 3S battery and my old Kenwood TH-205E. I did not consider an activation on HF due to the lack of a suitable HF transceiver. My first SOTA activation took place in September 2011 on Hohes Rad, OE/VB-021.
It stayed with this first activation because of other obligations and interests. SOTA sank into oblivion. Only a few years later I discovered it again. In the meantime I had gained experience with HF- operations from summits during our Mini DX- Peditions to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
A second attempt was made on Farrenberg (DM/BW-089). I started enjoying these trips to the local summits. Since then I have been activating more or less regularly.