Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pemberton May 26

Tracklog is here.
More photos are here.

The day before looked epic but way too much north wind, but today we were hoping it had abated enough for us to take advantage of the drier airmass sitting over the lower mainland of BC.

Going over the back to Birkenhead Lake.
Once in the air it was definitely Springtime In Pemberton...very strong and abrupt lift: the kind that can rip a brake toggle out of your hands if you're not careful.  A bunch of us had planned on possibly doing the 100km FAI triangle, but with the strong wind I wasn't really prepared to fight a headwind through the no-mans land that lies between the Birkenhead and Pemberton Valleys.

We had hang glider action today with Mark, Doug, and Neil flying XC as well.  When I got to Goat Peak with Mark I started toying with the idea of doing a version of the triangle but in reverse instead, to take advantage of the tailwind it would give me instead of a headwind.
Looking north to Birkenhead Lake.

Fortunately I had a nice tailwind so I was able to basically glide right to Mt. MacDonald and bypass a climb on Sungod.  You really want to be high for this section, as the only "real" place to land (other than the snow-covered FSR)  is the small community at the south end of Birkehead Lake.  Otherwise it's a deep ravine until you reach the Birkenhead Valley where you then have the safety of the big LZ at Gramsons.

The Birkenhead Valley is full of 4 sets of high-tension powerlines which overhang almost all the possible LZ's.  The only places to land (this time of year) are the sandbars on the Birkenhead River, along with a few fields north of Gates Lake, and of course the (sketchy-looking) gravel pit at the Pemberton end.  So I decided to just stay high (3600m) and make sure not to need a LZ :)

Once I reached Lil'wat Mountain it was time to glide over and (hopefully) soar Mt. Currie!  I've done this a couple times in the past, and if the wind direction is just right, it's awesome as you get to soar the huge blocks of black rock that make up the north side of Currie.  Neil joined me for a bit but the west wind was picking up down low and it was time to land!

Nice overhanging cornices!
In the end I managed a 80km FAI triangle and got to explore some new-to-me territory.  Had the wind been a bit less I would have attempted to fly up to the north end of Birkenhead Lake and tag Scout Peak for the full 100km.

Other flights of the day...Alex did Hurley and return, extending his flight to Currie as well for something like 70km.  Fred, Pawel, and Andrew flew to Meager before adding a Duffy-and-return leg (115-130km OR).  Mark flew towards North Creek before returning to the safety of HG-sized LZ's for an ~70km OR.  And Neil did Hurley-and-return, followed by a Currie-and-return, for a nice 60km OR.

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