Day 1 of the Nats and it was a hot one! After a slow start we finally got up the mountain and then it was time to wait for it to heat up and start working about 2pm.
Today's task was an up-and-down the range to get the visiting pilots a taste of the milkrun in Pemberton. A couple of back-n-forths with a valley crossing to Camel's Hump to make things interesting before landing at the Bruce LZ in Pemberton Meadows, total distance around 60km once you remove the TP radii. We chose this LZ since, in case it Whistler Expressed, we wouldn't be bringing pilots back to a potentially windy and turbulent LZ in Pemberton. The Bruce LZ is safely out of any Whistler Express.
Once in the air the winds were stronger than we anticipated and more NW than SW, which made the going towards Hurley a bit slow. But the IP6 was doing an awesome job of getting me through the air and I eventually made it downrange to Paulin and then it was a quick dash to Barbor at the Owl gap. Then it was time for the Camel's Hump jump. This was into wind as well, so I tanked up to2800m over Barbour before crossing the valley, tagging the TP, and scurrying back to the sunny side of the valley. Several pilots were at Camel's Hump already when I arrived but for some reason they were staying over there and attempting to climb back out before re-crossing…I'm not sure why as they were certainly high enough to cross back to the sunny side and continue the task rather than spend time over there.
In any case, I left them behind and was back to launch for the last TP in only a few minutes as it was very NW at this point and an easy downwind dash. The last bit was gonna be hard…Bruce's LZ is NW of launch so it was going to be back upwind to get into goal, and the winds were quite strong by this time.
Since I was only 3 km from goal (flight here) I just continued my flight and landed there anyways, since it was the closest LZ and there were retrieve vehicles already waiting for us. I didn't find the task *that* dangerous; sure there was wind but I think lots of pilots were pushing hard and doing things that they wouldn't normally do; at least one of the reserve pilots admitted that he was flying in spots that he wouldn't normally have if he had been free-flying. Folks: just because it's a comp doesn't mean changing your judgement! If it's unsafe, fly elsewhere or land. Is a reserve toss/pilot injury/damaged equipment worth the extra points?
There were maybe 8-10 pilots in goal before the task was stopped with several of us being the next group. Many pilots were on their way back from Camel's Hump when the task was stopped so they just flew into the goal field as well since it was on the way for them.
All the reserve folks were fine and heli-rescued one-at-a-time (heli-pool!) and were back at the Black Squirrel restaurant in time for the free dinner. I think there will be plenty of glider checking and reserve-repacking tomorrow on launch! And I think (hope) that Jim will reiterate his mantra of "safety first" and having fun rather than spending a couple hours in the trees getting eaten by mosquitos...