It was a rather uneventful flight...direct to Mexico City and it only took 5 hours. Didn't sleep on the plane though...too excited!
When I arrived in Mexico City it was pretty quiet (Sunday morning), so finding the Caminante bus and getting to Toluca was a no-brainer. The roads were empty so the ride was short, and I arrived in Toluca just before 10am local time (which is 2 hours ahead of Vancouver time). Daniel Miller and his Spanish pilot friend, also Daniel, picked me up and off to Tenancingo we went!
Passing Nevado de Toluca there was plenty of new snow on the peak; apparently a "freak" rainstorm had given-'er a couple days ago (I had noticed puddles in Mexico City and thought it odd), and manifested as snow up high. Daniel says he's never seen rain in January in these parts before, courtesy of a system that's spinning in the wrong spot...it's supposed to be over Central America instead!
Arrived in Tenancingo and Casa Del Piloto, where we met up with Chad and Jim Wagner (from Bellingham). After emptying my gliderbag of all my traveling stuff, we went up to La Malinche launch.
The road up is your typical 4 wheel drive road, Daniel has a truck so no problems there. The launch is also not that high, so hiking up from the main road is possible too. Launch is at 2250m ASL, and the LZ is 2000m ASL (so only 250m elevation!).
The launch is pretty sweet...Spanish Daniel owns the land and has been working on it for a while now. It's bare ground with grass stubble, with a shade tree and a bench to sit on while you're para-waiting. It faces pretty much due south, so you can launch here starting around 11am or so. We got there at 3pm.
Launched at 3:40pm after watching Chad and Jim launch, and it was straight up right away...no worries about any of the bailout LZ's and it was obvious getting back to town would be easy.
The 4 of us (Jim, Chad, English Daniel, and myself) played around for a bit and then headed over the back towards Tenancingo. There are actually 3 hills between La Malinche launch and town...you need to be high enough to clear all 3 if you want to make the main LZ.
I caught a nice thermal over launch and it took me to 3000m, which is more than enough for the glide to Tenancingo, especially with a tailwind. It looked like it was converging behind launch, so when I got high enough I flew under the suspected convergence, and yep!, it was indeed. No turns and I kept going up under the grey clouds, headed towards Nevado de Toluca. Hmmm this is pretty easy, I think I'll do a circuit of the Valley. So I flew around the valley for the next hour or so, staying around 3800m, playing with the clouds and seeing what the different valleys had to offer. There are sooo many valleys converging here...the XC possibilities seem endless and you can do triangles and out-and-returns very easily here.
After a while I was getting cold (I hadn't bothered with my full-on warm clothes), tired after a night of no sleep, and the clouds were starting to get a bit dark. Not being familiar with how overdevelopment tends to work out here, I decided to play it safe and looked for some sink.
Not easy! It was going up all over the place, and the sky got progressively more and more cloudy, with a convergence line headed straight for the volcano. Finally after finding some sink I was able to get out of the convergence suck-zone, and headed to the LZ.
Upon my landing the usual crowd of kids showed up. Did some PR photos for the parents and then off to the waiting truck with both Daniels, Chad, and Jim, who had landed earlier and were waiting for me. Casa Del Piloto is just across and up one street from the LZ.
The flight was easy, and the XC looks yummy. I'm eager to try some triangles and explore the valley systems a bit more, after I catch up on my sleep. After 36 hours of continuous awake time, sleep starts to look pretty good!
Tracklog of my first exploratory flight at Tenancingo is here, and first batch of photos are up here (Mexico 2009).