Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grouse Mountain Sept 23

My last flight at Grouse Mountain for 2017...a site orientation with Emily and Tom Furst and a quick sledride.  No lift that late on an overcast day, but the LZ was nice and mellow which is always nice for new pilot's first flights!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Woodside Sept 10

A nice mellow day at Woodside with low clouds initially, although we knew it would go up throughout the day.  Lots of people out and cloudsurfing the low clouds.  It never got high enough to make the jump west to Sasquatch Mountain but there were plenty of low clouds across the Fraser River, so a bunch of us ventured west towards Chilliwack and back to Woodside.

Cloudbase started off quite low.
Near the end of my flight I flew over the back to Agassiz Mountain with Peter and it was quite windy and getting more stable, so the return trip was a bit tough and rough in the lee of Woodside.  We ended up landing at the Dike LZ in nice laminar winds.

I believe there was a crew out at Mt. St. Benedict but nobody flew west from there.  Cloudbase stayed too low over at the Bridal side so I don't think anybody would have been there either...we usually stop flying Bridal by mid- to late September as the sun doesn't really get far enough around to make Bridal work in the fall.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Grouse Mountain Sept 1

A short flight with Fabian and JF in stable blue conditions.  Couldn't get above the peak but it was easy to stay up on the bailout cliffs.  This time of year the LZ is quite mellow for landings!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sun Valley Aug 22

Alex goes flying after totality.  This is Riley Butte near the OR/ID border.
A quick trip to Sun Valley as we were in the area already for the Total Solar Eclipse.  The forest fire smoke had temporarily receded for the eclipse (yay!) but was now making its way back into the area.

A few minutes after totality.
It was a blue day for the most part and all the local XC pilots showed up at launch, so we knew it was going to be good!  An initial inversion around 10,000' but we were getting high enough to make the transition over to Sun Peak and work our way to Trail Pass.

Conditions were quite funky at the entrance to Trail Pass and I wasn't getting high enough to make the transition over the no-landings stretch of the Pass...Alex made it over as well as Gavin and Nate (eventually) but I just couldn't get high enough!

Cloudbase was around 23,000' in the back!
Eventually I decided to abandon the Pass and turned NW to Galena Pass instead.  The winds were actually pretty light (for Sun Valley) so the headwind wasn't that much of an issue.  And once I got away from the funkiness of Trail Pass the conditions improved a lot!  It was still blue, with the smoke returning quickly, but I was getting better and better climbs.  Just SE of Galena Pass I was getting to 17,000' and cloudbase (cu's had started to form in the back ranges) seemed to be around 22,000'!  Too bad the smoke was getting quite bad from the fires and I couldn't really see much...
Smokey conditions en-route back to Ketchum.

I could have jumped over Galena Pass with ease but I decided to make the return run to Ketchum.  Alex and Gavin had landed out on the other side of Trail Pass and was en-route back to Ketchum, and Nate was somewhere attempting a big triangle.  The return was quite quick and I actually did my final glide to Ketchum from 20+ km out.

Bald Mountain in the afternoon.
It was quite windy in Ketchum with the afternoon valley flow so pilots were hiking up Sun Peak for an afternoon flight.  I don't think anybody made it away from Sun Peak that day, but it was a nice end to an otherwise smokey day.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pemberton Canadian Nationals July 28

After a couple of blown-out days we were very eager to get back in the air!  We also found out we now have access to the Rodeo Grounds goal field (near Lilloet Lake), however there was a Whistler Express predicted for this afternoon which meant it wouldn't really be safe to make a task that either went, or finished, in that direction, since it would entail overflying Pemberton during the windy period.  So, for safety's sake, we decided to make a task which would keep us away from the Whistler Express-ing area and instead up towards the Hurley end.

Because the previous task had worked well with a start and then turnpoint around Miller, we figured it would work again to keep the field spread out a bit over the ridge.  However when I launched I didn't immediately zoom to cloudbase like in previous days, so I could tell it was going to be a slightly more difficult day to get up over McKenzie and getting to Miller would not be a cakewalk!

Looking back at Mt. Barbour.  Forest fire smoke in the distance from the BC Interior fires.
With the SW winds the ideal spot to wait for the start was actually over Upper Launch since it would be more downwind to Miller, but I followed some pilots getting high at Fraser instead but I didn't connect to the clouds like they were.  And it just wasn't working for me; pilots all around were getting to 2600m but I could barely get above the ridge.  So when the start came at 2:30 I was nowhere near high enough to make the crossing and had to spend an additional 20 minutes working my way higher before I could finally get on courseline.  It was painful to watch everyone pull away from me and realize I had to be patient; if I blindly followed the lead gaggle from my altitude I would be on the ground quick.

Of course those who were high at the start were able to get away much easier, and they had the choice of which route to take to the Hurley Pass and Tender Mountain: either take a chance on getting high and taking the shorter but riskier Miller route to the Hurley Pass, or tag Miller and run back to the sunny side, and take the longer but more reliable route to Hurley Pass.  I saw pilots on both routes, and I think the Miller route was indeed a bit faster.  I was not so lucky in that I was still not very high from my bad start, so I had to take the longer route anyways.  Sigh.

Final gliding to the Miller LZ under a perfect evening sky.
Fortunately it was working fantastically at Barbour/Copper/Goat, and I was able to get to 3000+m which meant an easy crossing of the Hurley Pass in both directions and epic views of the Chilcotin and the BC Interior.  Pilots were doing much better at handling the crossing too today; I didn't see as many low or deep pilots unlike the previous day!

The rest of the flight was a very fast ridge run with strong climbs (6-7m/s) and cu's popping around 3000m.  The final turnpoint at Goat took a bit of careful work, as we (the task committee) had miscalculated and put a 1 km turnpoint around the peak, and it turns out that is very close to terrain, and in a turbulent spot when it's windy from the west.  We should have made it 1.5 or 2 km I think.  But as far as I know, there were no incidents, just a word of caution over the radio (thanks Jesse!), and it was uneventful from then on.  I ended up making goal slowly after my bad start, but that's better than not making goal at all!

Congratulatory selfie!
Once again there were oodles of pilots in goal and several personal bests for both distance, time, or altitude.  I think pilots are liking Pemberton!