I have given this question a lot of thought. I've been licensed since 1989, that's 25 years of very active operating. I'm #1 on the Honor Roll, over 1,030 IOTA's confirmed, 5BWAZ, 9 Band DXCC, etc... So, as you can tell, I love the hobby. Given all my ham radio acheivements and activities I can't recall being so enthused about any part of the hobby as I am about the Summits on the Air program. So why is that? I came up with a few thoughts.
I enjoy QRP because it fits my minimalist philosophy of life. What is it that I really need to exist? Operating QRP is like catching a 10 lb. bass on 3 lb test line, it's like sleeping under a lean-to rather than a tent, using an EFHW instead of a beam, it's like David versus Goliath. In short, its a challenge to begin with and thrill when you succeed.
I like managing the gear. I'm always looking for better ways to manage a summit activation from logging to power supplies to antennas to radios. I 'm always looking for the lightest, most efficient approach. I like that no two activations are exactly alike. Deciding where to set-up, which tree has the best antenna support characteristics, where is best protection from the elements. The shack at home changes very little over time. It's almost boring.
I like the planning, topographic maps, coordinates, routes. I like the exercise, the incentive to stay fit so that I can enjoy what nature has to offer regardless of the altitude. I love the views. It makes me feel alive.
I like the points, the sense of achievement, although it's not always the achievement, it's the chase. The pursuit of the goal is what is motivating. I enjoy the chase.
I enjoy the comradarie of like minded indivduals and the SOTA program is very strong in that regard, it's full of people who love the outdoors, who enjoy QRP and like the challenges of both.
I just had to write it down.