Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bridal Falls May 5

An east-wind day, which usually means later starts at Bridal but higher altitudes.  I was hoping it would be one of those relatively-rare flights where you can get over the Cheam summit, so I wasn't really focused on getting a big distance number.
Harrison Lake plus Agassiz with the inversion.

It was actually much lighter winds than I expected.  Some places it was light N, other places it was light E, and other places it was light S.  The best lift was near the NW shoulder of Cheam where I spent most of the flight.  Was able to get to 2052 m at one point, which is still just shy of the 2104 m summit, agghh!

But it was really fun to play along the snow slopes on the NW side and the crows were having fun too, sliding in the snow and not trying to thermal at all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Woodside and Bridal May 2

I suspected today would blow out like yesterday in the Fraser Valley, so after dropping Alex off at Little Nic for his hike-n-fly, off to Woodside I went to fly early before it got too windy.

It was remarkably quiet on launch, few pilots except for the load that Jim drove up, which surprised me a bit as it was a sunny spring day.  But hey, less congestion on launch!

At Bear Mountain, heading to Agassiz, with the incoming smog indicating the accompanying westerly wind.
The climb out was slow and painful at first, Kevin and I were trying to get high but couldn't really break past 1100m.  But I noticed some clouds forming over the antennas so I gradually faded my way back and got under them, at which point I was beamed to 1500m and onwards to Agassiz Mountain.

Alex coming in to land at the Bridal LZ.  The LZ was mowed a week ago and it's now dandelion central!
Over at Bridal Alan was reporting climbs to only 1400m which is not super-high for that side, and over at Agassiz and Bear Mountain I was only getting to 1200m.  For the crossing to Bridal, I like at least 1400m and prefer 1600m.  Today with only 1200m and zero landing options on the Fraser River (the river is about 1 month ahead of schedule for flooding!) I decided to bail on my idea to cross over, and landed in Agassiz instead along with Kevin.

Alex flying the Lynx at Bridal.
Our group reconvened at Bridal for a late afternoon fly...I decided to stand down and drive instead as I had a good flight earlier and was looking to chill a bit.  It was a bit spicy on launch and some pilots were getting hoovered in the elevator right off launch and reports on the radio were of some wind on the way to Elk.

Overall it turned into an OK flying day; if you were willing to take the punches you could get to 1500m, but the general consensus was that the air was a bit on the snarky side.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Dewdney Bench May 1

This was my first time at Al's new site in the Miracle Valley, I figured it would be the best option on an otherwise windy and north day.
Bench launch still looks a bit industrial but there is grass seed taking root.

Launch is quite low, around 300m, so you pretty much need to start thermalling right off launch if you want any chance of getting away easily.  The cycles weren't that frequent so I was patient for a good strong one, and was able to start turning right away over launch and no scratching needed.
The water level in Stave Lake is quite low, probably the dam was released a bit in anticipation of the mountain snow runoff coming in the next few days.  Lots of LZ's along the shoreline now!

Heading to Mt. St. Benedict was pretty straightforward although slow in places as the lift was a bit broken down low in spots.  If you could stay above 1000m you were OK, but once below you had to work to get back up towards cloudbase.  Once again the flats were working in addition to the mountains, and pilots were crossing west to the Steelhead side of things and then back.
Lots of marsh exposed at the south end of Stave Lake.

Cloudbase was low initially, maybe 1200m, but it slowly raised during the flight to around 1400m by 6pm.  But as cloudbase rose, so did the westerly winds, and by the time I landed at the Durieu school it was quite strong and punchy over the LZ and I expect the launch was blown-out.  I think the Fraser Valley sites may have been blown-out too as I didn't hear too much action at either Woodside or Bridal.
Al's new Flow Gliders XC Racer as the winds are picking up in the LZ.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Pemberton April 22-23

My first XC flights of the season!

I think this may be the earliest that I've flown Pemberton in a season, usually it's May before we start up there.  There is still snow on the road up and it's a 15 minute walk in, although yesterday a truck did make it in past the snowdrifts and to launch, so I expect more trucks to start making the drive in anytime now!  I believe the shuttle service starts back up in mid-May when Guy and Ricardo get back from their vacation.

Mt. Meager and the 2010 landslide visible at the bottom.
Conditions were a bit north, but the winds were generally light, and it was very easy to get to cloud base over upper launch (which is still fully snowed-in, although pilots have been top-landing in the knee-deep snow).  Once at cloud base around 2600m it was super-cruisy all the way to Owl Peak and the gap, then once again at Barbour/Copper it was on!

On my way back to Pemberton cruising along just past North Creek.
There was practically no wind at Hurley Pass which made the crossing very enjoyable (no wind to suck you into the Pass!) and all the to North Creek and Spindrift the west wind was barely noticeable.  Usually coming around the corner at Spindrift it's a bit of a washing machine, but this time nada so we were able to pretty much straight-line it.  However it was looking more and more blue the further west you went and the closer to the glacier you got, so we didn't bother going to Athelstan but turned around at the 50km mark.

Heading back was pretty much no turning needed all the way to Hurley, we were getting to 3000m and there was no wind!  Pilots were complaining about the cold but I was bundled in 5 layers of clothes and puffy everything, chemical heat warmers on my hands, and I was toasty warm.  Back at launch we were still getting to 2600m so Alex and I went off across the valley towards Currie, while Peter went across to Signal Hill and up the Rutherford a bit.

Over at Currie there was practically no wind so it was thermal only, no dynamic soaring on the NW faces.  It was amazing that there was basically zero wind all over, even up high there was only a smidge of north.  Lots of happy faces in the LZ as most pilots had an awesome day (except for the cold)!

Mt. Currie with Whistler-Blackcomb in the background.
The following day was much more stable as predicted, much less lift and harder to get away from launch.  I managed to get to 1700m at Upper launch and scunged along in the slight east wind along the ridge to Owl, then crossed quite low, and spent a bit of time scratching my way back up under Copper.  This allowed Stefan to catch up to me and we worked our way to Hurley Pass where I got my max of 2400m and decided to turn back, while Stefan continued on to Sampson before turning around too.

Mt. Currie with Green River and Lilloet Lake.
A bunch of pilots had finally gotten high enough to follow and were on their way to the Pass when I passed them going back to launch, and they were getting better lift, so the day was finally turning on after a slow start.  But back at launch it was hard to get over 2000m, and I wasn't feeling confident about going over to Lil'wat peak with those low altitudes, so I decided on an early landing so I could enjoy the 22C and sun in the LZ.  Pilots had top-landed at Upper launch and it was apparently quite sloppy snow and still deep in spots, so they were landing at the LZ with wet feet and legs!

April 22 flight
April 23 flight

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blanchard March 24

Another beautiful Blanchard day, on a day when the inland sites were overdeveloped and stormy (lots of anvil clouds inland!), and lots of pilots were taking advantage of the weekend sunniness.

Oodles of lift around and some pilots decided to fly to the US-Canada border but I stayed local and flew south to Bow and Edison, using the plentiful flatland thermals which are so reliable this time of year.  With the exposed mudflats (the tide was out) the thermals were way out over the water so it was easy to get to cloud base over the water and look down at the oyster farms.