Skies tending towards OD in the north meant a smaller and quicker task with an earlier deadline: heading over the back and zigzaging back and forth across the flats before heading for the goal at Chiringuito.
I flew most of the courseline either by myself or occasionally with Renata who was borrowing Nicky's Pure. A bit of scrambling around to get high at Castel del Mur, and then it was off to the races under a nice cloudstreet.
The actual TP at Pont Montanyana was in a blue hole, so I tanked up before heading into the blue, tagging the TP, and then fleeing back to the relative reliability of the cloud shadow. At this point it was going to be a long slog cross-upwind for 30km over the flats.
The going was slow but I took every climb and slowed down every time I hit 0's, which was enough to barely get me across the river. I could see some gliders climbing ahead of me so I slogged over and found ratty lift which eventually coalesced into a beautiful climb right onto the high ground downwind of our objective.
The high terrain wasn't the most direct route to the next TPs but I opted to follow it since it seemed to be more reliable than the flats. Usually I don't like approaching TP's from downwind as it means a long upwind slog to reach them, but this time it seemed worth it since I was unsure about relying on the flats when I was essentially by myself. Sticking with the high ground and a significant south wind reducing my speed to single digits at times, it was a long glide out to convenient LZ's but I didn't really care about a potential long walk: I wanted to tag those TPs!
The wind was quite strong from the south so it was ridge soaring at times as I approached the final two TP's. Now came the hard part. Both TP's were upwind out in the flats, almost in line with each other from a certain angle so if you were high enough and positioned correctly, you could theoretically tag both in one glide. But I didn't have the glide (and it was really windy) so I opted to first tag the TP at Abella Conca, run back to the hills, re-tank up, and then reposition myself on the high ground for the run to the farther-away TP at Isona.
It almost didn't work...I tagged the Isona TP but was only maybe 500' over the ground when I turned around, not enough to return to the high ground. With a canyon approaching under me I ran downwind and bumbled into a scrappy thermal that was drifting wildly, grabbed the bull by the horns, and rode it up and towards the high ground where I was then able to connect with a "proper" thermal.
I was now back in familiar territory and could see the lake with the goalfield somewhere near it. It being my first time in this area, I had no idea where the actual goalfield was so had to trust my instrument which was showing a 8:1 glide, but there was a mountain in my way :) I could see another glider ahead of me, low, and he was skirting around the mountain, but I figured I would stay with the lift I was in and get high enough to jump directly over the mountain rather than take the long way around. A 4:1 glide later I started following the goalfield arrow.
|Gliding over my final obstacle on the way to goal.
Today there were 46 pilots in goal with many others landing out on the flats. I consider myself quite lucky to find lift when and where I did, and today I wasn't concerned about being fast, but staying high and taking every bit of lift I could find, even if it seemed unnecessary at the time (and if you look at my tracklog you can see it meandering all over the place). Certainly not racing, more XC-style, but today it was what I needed in order to achieve my goal.