It looked like a high pressure was setting up which usually makes the Fraser Valley a bit too stable for good flying. However this is when Pemberton usually turns on!
This time we persuaded Kevin Ault to come up and try the Pembie air...he hasn't flown here since 1997! Sunny and warming up when we arrived at the LZ. (BTW, it's best for all the vehicles to park on the north/LZ side of the road so local traffic can fit through.) Light north wind from Meager which is always a good thing as it usually means no Whistler Express that day.
Didn't launch until just before 2pm but it was already good, and I wanted to do the Meager-and-return flight so I got going. Heading NW was a bit slow since there was a bit of west wind up high, and the further north you go the more the valley bends to the west. Plus the climbs were only getting us to 2700m in the good spots, and more like 2400-2500m the rest of the time. Crossing north across the Hurley Pass was the crux for me as it's into-wind, arriving onto low angle terrain, with a Pass venturi, and low climbs on either side. I've found the trick is to fly out in front of the Pass (not go deep) and use any climb on the other side to get up and away from the venturi area. Once away from the venturi you can settle down and take more solid climbs. Fortunately this time of year the Lillooet River is super-low (the melt hasn't really started yet) so there are oodles of sandbars to use as LZ's in case this strategy doesn't work :)
|Spindrift Mountain and Mount Meager just on the other side.
Because the climbs weren't taking us past 2700m I found it wasn't worth the trouble to cross Spindrift Mountain to get to the 50km mark. Usually the west wind is pretty significant here (even on light wind days) so trying to go around Spindrift is a bit of a pain with flying in the rotor and venturi around the corner. Flying overtop is much preferred, but 2700m is not quite enough to do this...I prefer 2900m or even more, and even then you sometimes have to try it a couple of times.
After turning around at the 45km mark it was a much faster flight back with a nice tailwind, even crossing Hurley Pass north-to-south wasn't an issue. Landed just before 7pm for a 96.6km OR. Alex did much the same flight, while Kevin turned around near North Creek for a probable 80km OR. Meanwhile Allister had flown over the Duffy Lake Road to Lytton via Lillooet (130km), and Scott Watwood had flown from Lillooet (after vol-bivying overnight after a Pemberton-Lillooet flight the day before) to Cache Creek to catch up with Peter MacLaren. They plan to relaunch at Cache Creek and try flying to Mara/Revelstoke/Golden over the next several days! A super day and not a cloud in the sky, not even looking inland to the Chilcotin region from Spindrift. Looks like the entire southern part of BC is blue.
Next day I was feeling a bit bushed and not in such a gung-ho mood so I decided to stay a bit more local. The forecast was calling for not-quite-so-good conditions but once in the air it was definitely as good as yesterday so my forecasting was obviously off :)
|Duffy Lake Rd looking east towards Lillooet.
Mt. Matier on the far right, Duffy Lake in the distance.
|Partway down Lillooet Lake looking NW to Pemberton.
Gravell Peak and Mt. Currie on the left.
Kevin had followed me to Lil'wat Mountain and then crossed directly to Currie, getting high enough to re-cross back to MacKenzie before doing Owl-and-return. Several other pilots (Peter, Andrew, Frederic) had done the Spindrift-and-return flight, with Fred adding on a MacKenzie-Lil'wat Mountain-MacKenzie crossing at the end of the day to bump his flight to 118km. Nobody went east on the Duffy Lake Road today and many pilots were happy to land in or near Pemberton and save on epic retrieves and hitch-hikings.
I'm really glad Kevin got 2 epic flights in Pemberton...I always enjoy it when Fraser Valley pilots show up and get good flights so they can see just how good it can be here. When the FV is baked out, try Pemberton!