Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tapalpa January 15

Northeast winds predicted so off to Tapalpa.  I opted to fly from the free launch while Jim took the new pilots to the larger launch.  Usually at a morning site in NE wind I would launch fairly early, but the locals were saying that in NE winds, Tapalpa often doesn't work until late (after 1 or 1:30pm), and this was evident in the tandems and early fliers who were having a hard time staying up or flat-out sinking out.  So I decided to wait a bit, and finally launched just after 2pm.

From the get-go this flight was way harder than previous flights...the thermals were hard to stay connected to, they were in weird places, and the lift would peter out before reaching cloudbase which appeared to be around 4000m on the plateau.  Derek and I had to fight for our lift and it was tough work at times, especially since the wind down low was more directly south and scrubbing along the side of the east-facing rim.

Crossing from the morning side to the afternoon side
To the north about 20km is the jumping-off point if you want to cross to the San Marcos side.  There was a bunch of cu's here and I was hoping to tank up before making the glide, but I just ended up lower than when I initially arrived.  Derek by this point had already started the crossing and I was still stuck on the Tapalpa side and not finding lift.

Finally after 20 minutes of searching for that perfect lift to get me all the way across, I bit the bullet and started the crossing anyways, knowing I was too low to make it all in one go and I would need to find something extra on the way.  There is an antenna on a small hill in the middle that I was hoping to get up on, and finally I found the climb I had been hoping for and was able to get myself back in the game to catch up with Derek.

Meanwhile back over on the Tapalpa side it was getting big and the clouds were starting to drop out with virga.  And all around the big mountains, over Guadalajara and Tequila, the clouds were starting to grow into very big congesti.  
Big cu forming over the airport

Got high at the usual spot and then Derek and I jumped over the back to Jocotepec where I was hoping to do the Chapala ridge run, but oddly there was zippidy-do-dah over there (perhaps the giant congestus over GDL was sucking all the energy away from the surrounding mountains?) and it was sink all the way.

Derek landed next to the condo while I landed in San Juan Cosalas (the next town east).  7 pesos later (about 55cents) I was on the bus to my hotel as well.

While this flight wasn't that much longer than other flights I've had here (since I landed an hour earlier than usual), it was much, much harder.  We had to work really hard to find lift at times, and both of us got low in spots that would have entailed an inconvenient retrieve.  Because of this, it was quite satisfying to make it back to town and an easy retrieve back, even more so than my San Marcos flights.  

New photos are here!  And other stories from Tapalpa can be found on the FlyBC website.  

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