Risk vs. Reward – Returning to Common Sense in DXpeditions

When is the risk worth the reward of mounting a DXpedition to a rare entity?

Over the last several years some amazing efforts have been made to activate places like Scarborough Reef (BS7H), Rockall Island (http://www.rockall.be MM0RAI/p and upcoming MS0INT http://www.eu189.com/) and other hazardous locals.

These operations put radio amateurs and their support crews at considerable risk.

Bluntly, they are not worth the level of risk being undertaken, much less are they worthwhile in an economic sense.

One cannot think of any non-emergency radio QSO (contact) that is worth putting another radio amateur in danger, much less worth losing a life to make that QSO.

These ultra-rugged DXpeditions certainly cross both those lines.

It is one thing if duty takes a person to a risky remote dangerous location, and they happen to be able to work QSOs as a radio amateur. It is quite another to foolishly egg on our fellow hams to undertake these risks for purely hobby reasons.

Could you forgive yourself if you were at the other end of the QSO when disaster struck down the DXpeditioneer you were in QSO with? Even one step removed making the connection less personal, could you look an DXpeditioneer’s XYL widow and family in the eye? Could you tell them “and it was worth it?”

Every task we undertake a certain element of risk – even typing for this blog is riskier than some alternative activities and safer than some other possible activities. We quantify perceived risk with “common sense.” It is a temporary set-aside of that “common sense” that leads us to encourage DXpeitions with off-skew Risk vs. Reward benefits.

What to do about it?

Some fellow hams simply won’t work risk crazy DXpeditions, to distance themselves from the problem.

Others use their checkbooks and sponsor only DXpeitions that are sensible.

Some call for the award bodies (ARRL, CQ, IOTA and such…) to simply disallow any DXpedition that is high peril.

I’m thinking as a community we need to do all three, and add a fourth item – get our “DX Drive” back in check.

There is no place to work that someone else hasn’t already worked. They might not be hams, but a radio contact of some sort has happened before.

DXing is often claimed to be a personal journey of self-challenge. Perhaps if we held that more important than encouraging high risk DXpeditions for personal vanity and brief peer recognition, we would be better off.



2 thoughts on “Risk vs. Reward – Returning to Common Sense in DXpeditions

  1. Howard AE0Z says:

    There is no reward, period, in any DXpedition except for whatever value the individuals ascribe to it in their hearts. The same could be said about climbing Mount Everest. Some people like to do this sort of thing. It is up to them to determine if the risk is worth the reward.

    • k9zw says:

      Individual self-responsibility is huge Howard.

      But we are intertwined. I doubt many DXpeditioneers would head off to dangerous locations without the support and attention of the DX Community.

      Most of us feel a need to serve others where we can – and it is true we’re actually called to do so. That service shouldn’t encourage putting us in peril for vanity.



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