El Chante and San Marcos January 11

El Chante ridge
The west winds seemed a bit lighter today and Jim had a tandem to do, so we went to El Chante in the morning.  El Chante is a south-facing site overlooking Lake Chapala and a ridge running ~20km in either direction.  It's quite small, room for 1 glider, and a small runway so you need a good cycle to get off and not swoop the bushes below.

Once in the air it was west up high but east down low, so I opted to head east first.  Pretty smooth ridge running with occasional turning to maintain a decent (2500m) altitude.  About 15km to the east the ridge peters out, so I turned around at this point for the flight back.  (Jim was doing a tandem and Derek was driving the tandem's family down so I had the whole ridge to myself.)

The flight back was uneventful but slower (west wind) and I decided to try to jump upwind to San Marcos.  The El Chante ridge peters out here with a fairly large gap to jump, and it was into the increasingly strong west wind.  Not quite enough height to gain the San Marcos side despite a climb to 3000m (it was really windy!) and I landed next to the highway where Jim and Derek picked me up on the way to San Marcos.

Even though I didn't make it to San Marcos I ended up with 41km (so far!).  That flight is here.

Up on San Marcos I was hungry and a bit tired, so I chilled out with Jim while Derek flew.  Then a bunch of Canadians (!) from Montreal showed up so we actually had company on launch.

I had offered to drive so Jim could fly but he declined, so after a while I started thinking about flying again.  I didn't have great ambitions this time as I already had a nice flight in the morning; mostly just make it back to Jocotepec.

Coming over Joco after my climb to 3600m
Once in the air it was clearly stronger than at El Chante, and I was getting to 2800m easily.  Crossed the 2 gaps to the south of launch and caught up with Derek who was at 3100m and ready to glide to Joco.  Since I was a bit lower I decided to stick around before heading over the back too, and was rewarded with a nice climb to 3600m.

With this kind of altitude I couldn't pass up the chance to keep heading east, so I passed over Jocotepec and repeated my route from this morning to the end of the ridge.  (Derek had landed in town by this point.)  But at the end of the ridge, instead of turning around like I did earlier, I got a nice climb to 3450m and went for an almost-20-km final glide.

I actually could have gone 2-3km further, but at this point you start to run out of convenient (ie. close to the road) LZ's and it was getting late.  Around here sunset is ~ 6:30pm, and it gets dark quick afterwards!  So I landed at 6:10pm and had 20 minutes to pack up.  This was a bit difficult since I had all the local kids mob me as soon as I landed; they kept shouting "tierra aqui!" (land here!).

Mucho gracias to Jim and Derek who came to get me; my SPOT message gave them exact co-ordinates of where I was, but they initially didn't believe it, thinking I couldn't have gone that far.  Total distance on that flight was just over 60km (which took 2:07 hours), and the tracklog is here.  I was quite happy to have gone so far, and it was really only possible because of that massive climb in just the right spot...it was end of the day and once I dove off the ridge there was no more lift to be had, just a very boaty glide.  Had it been earlier in the day I imagine there would be flatland thermals to be had, but not at 5:30pm in the winter.

So in total, I got over 100km of flying in today, spread out over 2 flights.  Not bad considering my 30-minute sinkout yesterday :)

New pics are here!

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