Today was the official practice day for the comp, and conditions were pretty epic. XC Skies called for light east winds and high climbs so we opted for an out and return to the north, to the end of the range, and back to Bishop.
Launch (Gunter) was crowded with all the comp pilots and wind dummies so there was a bit of a lineup to get off. Once in the air it was very strong, but do-able, with the occasional spicy stuff. Climbed out above launch to around 4200m and then headed north.
Pilots were taking all sorts of lines, some deep over the peaks, others over the spines, and still others over the flats. I was flying the spines mostly and was staying pretty high. Got my highest climb to that point over White Mountain, to 5000m, and was able to see over the back into the next valley over. Continuing north was super-easy once high, and I ended up staying between 4600-5000m for the next hour or so.
Turned around near the end of the range and headed south. I had a bit of a tailwind at this point so getting back to launch was even quicker, and I was again above 4600m for pretty much the whole run. I got my highest climb of the day over White Mountain again, 5116m (16,900’), and was starting to feel the hypoxia and cold a bit. So I decided to glide back to Bishop and land there to make the retrieve easy.
No lift over the middle of the valley but I was OK with that, and ended up landing at a ball diamond just behind the K-Mart. Alex had done a similar flight and landed on the main road just outside town and was back at the car already, so he came and got me. Total distance about 70 km out-and-return for both of us.
Everyone is rolling into town now, and tomorrow is the first comp day. Weather is looking pretty nice for the next 2 days, light winds, sunny, and hot. Flying here so far is like Golden on steroids, except for the lack of trees and barren rock all the way up from the valley floor.