Tapalpa January 16

New pics are here!

Another day in Talalpa and it looked awesome, lots of cu's but not blowing up like yesterday's, light winds, and it seemed to be working earlier.  I got my stuff together and was off launch just after 12pm.

Us crossing the gap a bit too early
It was NE wind at times which made the north trek slower than normal, until Derek and I got to the jumping-off point at which point it turned to SW, perfect for crossing the big gap to the San Marcos side.  Unfortunately there wasn't any clouds in the middle, and you can't really do the crossing all in one go, you need a little pick-me-up on the way over.  Looking at the clock it was only 1:30pm, which seemed a bit early to be attempting the crossing (others usually wait until at least after 2pm), but it was going SW on the rim which meant it was time to leave.

Derek and I went on glide for the tower in the middle of the gap, and I managed to find a shitty little thermal which got me (barely) high enough to continue to the next set of bumps (still in the middle of the valley), while Derek was too low to catch it and ended up landing at the base of the tower.

The crap thermal had one thing going for it however...it was drifting me to where I needed to go anyways, so I was able to get to the next bump with enough altitude to try ridge soaring it.  Not quite square-on-enough, and I was soon below the bump and kicking trees as I tried to stay up in a tiny gully.  In desperation I penetrated out front a bit and was finally rewarded with a very rough thermal which tried to kick me out repeatedly.

In the end I won out over the thermal and rode it to 2500m which gained me the other side and safety.  By this point Jim et al were on their way to San Marcos launch and I flew overhead just as they were pulling into the parking lot.  There was a big cu over the north end of the ridge which I climbed up under, and radioed that I was heading over the back to Serro Viejo.
Serro Viejo

Serro Viejo is a big-ass mountain, 3300m on the peak, which sits just behind the Chapala ridge.  There were awesome cu's further to the north over Guadalajara, but they were prohibido due to airspace, so I had to content myself with flying over this massive chunk of rock and rocketing up to 4300m.  From this altitude I could see forever and it was juicy cu's smack over the middle of GDL.  Arggh!

Meanwhile the smaller Chapala ridge didn't seem to be working, no cu's or birds that I could see, so I opted to say in the back range until it joined up with the Chapala ridge. At this point I was on a giant glide from 4300m and it was a good thing, since the Chapala ridge was, once again, producing exactly zero lift like yesterday.  But this time I was prepared: I was higher and flying the back range, which enabled me to glide further before landing in a field at some random ranch.

My LZ crew
The ranch hands were very friendly and gave me tequila (I couldn't be rude to my hosts by refusing!) and a ride to Chapala where I jumped on the bus.  The bus ride took forever since it kept stopping every 50-100m to pick up or drop people off; it's festival time so everyone is bussing back and forth between festival towns.

It was an awesome flight; lots of distance flown (96km), huge altitudes, and exploration of new ground.  But I'm pooped: it was really hard work at times, especially at the beginning when it wasn't quite reliable enough to assume you were just going to stay up; there was a lot of grovelling and LZ-scoping before the day really turned on.

Other stories at Tapalpa and San Marcos can be found at FlyBC's Site of Day.

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