After the morning hoopla it was time to go back up the mountain one final time for the last task. The local sailplane pilot was already doing circuits and relayed to us that it was soarable so a long-ish task was set that took us across the valley to the Miller side and then downrange past the Hurley Pass and then back to the Bruce goal field for about 70km.
We had one inadvertent "top-landing" after a pilot launched and was scratching just in front of launch, turning right, when he was reminded that it was left-turn day. He immediately switched direction, fell out of the back of the thermal, and landed on the road up to launch, draping his glider over a few trucks. No injuries other than his pride :)
|Over Copper Peak looking east, starting 20km final glide.|
Once in the air it was definitely lighter and slower than anticipated so we knew the task was gonna be harder and take patience to accomplish. Almost everyone tagged the Owl TP, and then it was time to cross the valley to the sunny side of Miller ridge. There are several ways to do this, and most pilots opted to backtrack to Fraser, or even closer to Upper launch where it's narrower, before doing the crossing since we were only getting to 2200m on the MacKenzie side.
I've done the crossing several times and the spot where I usually get up was working as usual so I followed the ridgeline up to Sugarloaf Mountain where I got to 2700m where it was nice and cool. Evan from NZ was the only pilot who followed me as most other pilots who crossed to Miller ended up scratching for a long time before getting enough height to return to the MacKenzie side of the valley and try for Camel's Hump from that side. Many pilots ended up losing 30+ minutes because they got stuck on Miller. From Miller to Camel's Hump, staying on that side, is much more direct, so I was hoping to jump in the lead by sticking to the Miller side while they did the roundabout MacKenzie way...it ended up almost working :)
After meeting up with Jim at Camel's Hump it was time to tag Handcar Peak. This TP is on the other side of the Hurley Pass, and to get there you have to overfly some low-angle terrain with inconvenient LZ's if you sink out (cutblocks and the dirt road)...the convenient LZ's (farmer's fields next to the paved road) are far-enough away that if you don't want to commit to possible inconvenience you'll have to tank up for this tagging and keep an eye on the wind.
I've done the Hurley Pass crossing many times but never this late in the day (4:30pm). Fortunately the winds were very light and the lift was light but plentiful (kinda like doing the Bridal run late in the day) so it was easy to tag the TP and not have to worry about convenience vs. inconvenience for more than about 5 minutes before it wasn't an issue anymore :)
It was time to chase the lead gaggle and the milkrun back to Owl was uneventful as was tagging the ESS at Miller. The lower pilots approaching the ESS had some uncertainty as the 1km radius could be inside the mountain if you approach it from too low, and that time of day it's in the shade so there's not much chance of climbing out on the backside and re-trying from higher up. I was plenty high and no issues...I actually dared to go to 3/4 bar on the transition and the glider behaved admirably and no blow-ups :)
|Final glide to Bruce goal field.|
I only realized later on that I did really well, coming in 9th for the day and my highest daily score for this comp. In the end there were about 15 pilots in goal with many late-comers arriving after goal-close. Fortunately my decision to fly Miller-Camel's Hump direct paid off in that it probably saved me 30 minutes. It was really cool to fly that side of the valley with all the glaciers and lakes up there, and approaching Camel's Hump from the sunny side for once was rather nice.