The first clouds I have seen since getting here but it looked taskable so up we went. It was a bit of a cluster on launch as pilots were trying to get into their gear as other pilots were stepping around them to get to launch, and it's steep enough that you have to be careful not to trip or fall over. Hopefully the organization will improve the lineup/launch situation for tomorrow. Plus the thin air makes launching a bit of a challenge for some pilots and it was quite entertaining to watch :)
|Darkening skies before the rain hit.|
The forecast was apparently for 30% chance of rain so a short-ish task was set up towards Mt. Borah (the highest peak in Idaho) and then goal at the Twin Bridges airport. This sent us up Trail Creek Pass via Sun Peak and Otto Peak, and is one of the classic XC flights. Unfortunately the very high terrain means any potential development will likely manifest in that area, and that's what happened. Coming over Otto Peak the skies were getting quite grey and I could see virga starting to form upwind of me, and several pilots ahead of me were reporting level 2 and 3 conditions (although one pilot kept calling level 1 wherever he was). I wasn't very comfortable with the prospect of continuing to fly with deteriorating conditions so I decided it was time to bail on the task and glide out to land, but I was at the no-LZ crux where you have to decide whether to glide back upwind to LZ's, or run with the wind to the other side of the Pass and the big sagefield LZ's up there.
I chose to run with the wind and land on the other side of Pass; a few minutes later the official call came on the radio that the task was stopped and for all pilots to land safely. Strong NW winds in my chosen sagefield LZ but manageable, and I was packed up and in Mike's retrieve truck by the time we hit big fat raindrops and the gust front.
All pilots were safely on the ground and accounted for, with most pilots glad to be on the ground as had the task been continued, the lead gaggle would have been coming into goal just as the wind and rain arrived and it could have been mayhem. Remarkably I watched one pilot complain to Mike that the task shouldn't have been stopped and what was the problem? OMG folks, this is big mountain country and take the weather seriously! When the local pilots are calling level 2 and 3, heed their warnings!
Anyways, since the task hadn't been running for long enough, the stopped task ended up being cancelled. Ulrich had a light day but Chris had lots of work trying to keep track of pilots via their live trackers since there is no cell reception up Trail Creek. Thank you SPOT.