Today was the annual GMFT meeting, so a bunch of us decided to head up early for a flight, before the meeting at the Altitudes Bistro on top of the mountain. Veronica was along as a guest; her first time flying Grouse.
The day was shading over as we arrived at the LZ so we were thinking it may only be sled rides, but it was unstable enough still that people were staying up. The chairlift is back in operation after a couple of summers without, so no hiking necessary anymore and HG's can now get up the mountain no problem.
Last fall, after seeing where Grouse Resorts had put the new chairlift, I wasn't sure about how the launch would work, but the snow-gun has been taken down and it's actually quite decent. You can lay out where you previously did, and as long as the cycle is not too cross, taking off is not a problem with the chairlift right next door. I think if it's really cross then there could be problems.
The other issue is the glide out...turns out that the presence of the chairlift is not an issue as it is below tree-height where you cross over, so you don't have to really change anything about where you choose to make your right turn. Even the acro gliders were gliding over the chairlift lines no problem, so I don't think we'll have problems with not being able to get over them.
Anyways, after the launch (you have to yell that you're launching so the chairlift attendants can keep an eye on you in case you are indeed getting too close to the lines; I guess they can stop the chairlift if it looks like you're gonna wrap around them, to minimize damage from moving parts etc.) it was the usual lift over the gondola. The skies were quite overcast with a few cu's embedded, so it was mellow and not the usual strong/punchy stuff we're used to at Grouse.
About 10 gliders were in the air and we all boated around at 4000-4500' for 1-2 hours; the lift was pretty idiot-proof and everywhere we went out front it was lifty. But not too lifty behind launch...I flew back there once to see the new zipline setup they have back there (they have lines strung between the peaks and you can watch people zipping along them, or hear them screaming in the trees) and nada lift. Back to the ol' reliable cliffs next to the gondola.
Eventually we all headed out to land and once again it was mellow. Not bouncy and turbulent like it normally is at the LZ in mid-day conditions. Of course it was overcast by now and 6pm, so beautiful landing conditions and no last-second thermals to mess up your approach.
Back up the gondola for our 7pm meeting and about 20 people showed up. Most flew at some point during the day and lots of smiling faces. Flying Grouse is on for another season and it looks like the launch won't be an issue. The LZ may be though...rumour has it there will be construction in the upper LZ in August so we may be restricted to the lower field for August and September.