Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mount Woodside

Woodside looked like it was going to work as soon as the sun came out, although in the morning it didn't look very promising according to the locals...rain, no blue skies, and low cloudbase. But just around noon it started clearing in the city so I figured it would soon follow in the FV, so collected Alex and headed out.

Got a ride up with Martina and Derek and you can drive part way up the spur road before the snow gets too deep and you have to hike up the last hill. On launch was Jim and a couple of students, and one already in the air. It looked strong-ish according to the student hanging motionless in the air, but not super-so on launch, so I got ready and took off in a nice cycle. Straight up but I had 15-20 km/ ground speed so I radioed that it was fine, and the rest soon followed after.

Initially it was a combo of ridge/thermal flying, quite light, but lift all over the place. Then the clouds started forming above and behind launch (just after 3pm), and we started playing around with those. The ones on the south knob were especially nice to play around the edges of, and Norm got high under one and headed over towards Harvest Market, and then returned to the south knob later on. I got high under another one, and used it to get to another series of clouds forming over the north side. Around this time it started to get shady and the lift was dying lower down, so I milked things for a bit until the sun came back out.

By this time (around 4pm) the clouds were forming all over the place behind launch and you could ridge-soar the front sides of them. I used the first series of clouds to bench up to the next series of clouds higher up, and so on, until I was at 1350m halfway back to Agassiz Mountain, still going up. The clouds were giving lift all over the place, but they weren't towering and were very "fluffy", so the lift was pretty gentle. It was very cool to pretend the clouds were solid objects and try to slalom around them...seeing a portion of cloud form and then curl under like a wave and try to fly under the curl before the wave broke, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't Smile Other times pretending to scrape my wing against the solid side of the cloud just to see how close I could contour my way around the edge of the cloud. Almost like dune soaring in California, minus the actual hard ground in case you got too close with your glider.

Eventually I decided I was far enough back behind Woodside that I pushed back forward to rejoin Alex who was still in the air (everyone else had landed by now). It was around 5:15pm and we were contemplating top-landing to retrieve the vehicles still up there when we were told a retrieve convoy was already on the way back up, so not necessary. So we were able to milk the last of the clouds before they dissipated as the sun got low in the sky, landing about 5:30. Total airtime 2:05, and very cool to be flying around, over, under, and behind all those clouds, seeing your glory-reflection every time you looked around.