What is HEMA?

What is HEMA?

HEMA is the acronym for HuMPs Excluding Marilyns Award. A HuMP is a summit which has at least 100 metres of prominence. A Marilyn is a summit which has 150 metres of prominence. The HEMA program commenced in the British Isles.

Categorisation of mountains and hills in the British Isles

The mountains and hills of the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and other smaller islands) are categorised into various lists based on different combinations of elevation, prominence, and other criteria including isolation.

This includes:

  • P600 – the ‘Majors’
  • Marilyns
  • HuMPS
  • Simms
  • TuMPS

What is a Marilyn?

The Marilyns are mountains and hills in the British Isles that have a topographical prominence of at least 150 metres. As at April 2020, there were 2,011 Marilyns in the British Isles.

The list of Marilyns was first compiled in 1992 by Alan Dawson. The name was coined as a humorous contrast to the designation Munro, which is homophonous with Marilyn Monroe.

A Munro is defined as a mountain in Scotland with a height over 914.4 metres (3,000 feet).

Munros are named after Sir Hugh Munro (1856-1919). In 1891, he produced the first list of such hills, known as Munro’s Tables.

Above:- Sir Hugh Munro. Image c/o Wikipedia.

What is a HuMP?

HuMP is an acronym for ‘Hundred and upwards Metre Prominence’. The Marilyns were expanded in 2007 by the HuMPs.  Though he did not use the term HuMP, Eric Yeaman’s Handbook of the Scottish Hills (1989) is considered an early source as it included lists of hills with a prominence above 100 m. The name and first formal British Isles list was compiled by Mark Jackson from a number of sources and published online in 2010 in More Relative Hills of Britain. As of April 2020, there were 2,984 HuMPs in the British Isles: 2,167 in Scotland, 833 in Ireland, 441 in England, 368 in Wales and 11 in the Channel Islands.

What is prominence?

In topography, prominence (also referred to as autonomous height, relative height, and shoulder drop in US English, and drop or relative height in British English) measures the height of a mountain or hill’s summit relative to the lowest countour line encircling it but containing no higher summit within it. 

Above:- Vertical arrows show the topographic prominence of three peaks on an island. The dashed horizontal lines show the lowest contours that do not encircle higher peaks. Curved arrows point from a peak to its parent. Image c/o Wikipedia

How does HEMA differ to SOTA?

In the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, a summit must have 150 metres (about 492 feet) of prominence. In HEMA, a qualifying summit (a HumP) must have at least 100 metres of prominence. A ‘Marilyn’ is a summit which has 150 metres of prominence and these do not qualify for HEMA. They have their own program, SOTA.

What countries is HEMA operating in?

HEMA is active in 19 different DXCC entities, including Australia. In Australia, there are currently qualifying HEMA summits in VK1, VK3, VK5, and VK6.

Activation Zone

As is the case with SOTA, activations must take place within the activation zone. The activation zone is defined as the area within 25 metres vertically of the summit’s highest point.

When is the summit activated?

The HEMA summit is considered to have been ‘activated’ when four ‘successful QSOs’ are obtained. It is important to note that the four QSOs must be with different stations and operators. Previously this was four different callsigns. However the rules have been re-written and different stations and operators must now be logged. The HEMA website states:

“This is a noteworthy revision from previous versions of the rules – where four different callsigns were valid. This will stop multiple “contacts” with the same operator holding many callsigns which, it’s believed, is contradictory to the spirit of the programme.”

What is a ‘successful QSO’?

A ‘successful QSO’ means a contact between a chaser and activator where callsigns and signal reports are correctly exchanged.

What isn’t allowed

Contacts via any ‘relay’ including satellites, repeaters, the internet Echolink, etc, are not allowed.

Gathering points as an activator

Each successful activation will earn you 1 point.

Only your first activation of a summit will qualify for a point in the Uniques Table. You can attract another one point for that summit once per calendar year. You can activate a HEMA summit as many times as you like each year, however points will only be awarded for that summit once per calendar year. Awards are available for both Uniques and Qualifying points. Please see the “awards” section for further details.

Can I drive into a HEMA summit?

The HEMA website states the following:-

“HEMA is a mixture of outdoor pursuit and amateur radio. To this end it’s expected the equipment and operator arrive at the operating position by traditional means (walking, cycling, etc…) and the equipment is powered by a portable energy source (battery, solar panel etc…). The “spirit” of the programme here is key. For example, operating from a vehicle or ascending by quad bike is not permitted as a result.”

Gathering points as a Chaser

Only your first chase of a summit will qualify for a point in the Uniques Table. However, you may repeat your chase and accrue chaser points of the same summit once per day and this will attract a point in the Qualified Points Table. Awards are available for both Uniques and Qualifying points.


In the HEMA database you can keep track of your progress as both an Activator and a Hunter.


All HEMA awards are free of charge and are sent as a PDF file.

Classic – The ‘Unique Summit’ Awards for Chasers and Activators

This Award is based on the number of unique qualifying HEMA Summits activated or chased.

For each 25 uniques HEMA awards a certificate. There is also a 10 unique activations starter certificate to encourage activity.

Classic – The ‘Qualifying’ Awards for Chasers and Activators

In additon to the Unique Summit awards; additional awards are available based upon ‘Qualifying’ activations and chases. For every 50 qualifying activations a certificate is available and also for every 100 qualifying chases.

First H2H DXCC Award

In cases where two activators have a ‘Successful QSO’ between each other and they are both on HEMA summits – this is called an ‘H2H contact’ (HEMA2HEMA).

Both activators will receive a special certificate where this is the first ever H2H between two DXCCs.

HEMA Facebook page.

There is a HEMA Facebook page which can be found at…..


More info on HEMA

More information can be found on the HEMA website at…….


HEMA video


  1. HEMA, 2021, <http://hema.org.uk/index.jsp>, viewed 28th May 2021.
  2. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_mountains_and_hills_in_the_British_Isles#Marilyns>, viewed 28th May 2021.
  3. Wikipedia, 2021, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topographic_prominence>, viewed 31st May 2021.

2 thoughts on “What is HEMA?

  1. Brilliant summary Paul. Thanks.
    I activated Kaiserstuhl VK5/HSE-012 on Friday. Wonderful 5k hike to summit through the Kaiserstuhl Forest Reserve.
    Great to get a few more enjoyable humps in the Adelaide Hills to play radio on.
    Keep up the good work!
    John vk5haa

    • Hi John,

      It was interesting to find out exactly what a HuMP and a Marilyn was.

      Keep up the good work with HEMA. It will certainly be supported and promoted by me.


      Paul VK5PAS.

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