Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Woodside April 30

Short flight ;)

Funky snow virga as the cell over Sasquatch OD'd.
I didn't think it would overdevelop as much as it ended up doing, so my flight was a bit shorter than anticipated, although many others had big flights.  After tagging Sasquatch and Harrison Knob (and getting snowed on) I ran away from the shade from the blown-up development in the backcountry, heading to Agassiz and Green Hill where it was still sunny.  But the shade was outracing me and by the time I arrived on Green Hill it was also shady, and in fact the shade was encroaching on the Bridal side as well.  Ended up landing in Agassiz with Martina, with Greg a couple km's away.

Looking back at the shade hitting Woodside.
Many pilots did their first Bear-Ludwig transitions and reports were coming in of big lift over Bridal and big ears and speed bar to get down.  A few pilots even made it back to Woodside after using the clouds leftover from the overdevelopment to recross the Fraser Valley.  Brett was out with his brand-new R12 and appeared to be enjoying it, doing the Bear-Ludwig-Elk-Woodside flight with ease.
Green Hill is sunny but not for long!




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bridal April 24

29.3km OR.

Today almost felt like summer...warm, blue, and windy...more typical of July or August vs. late April.  Alan, Ihor, and Martin N were already in the air when we arrived on launch and reported some wind but really nice lift, so we soon joined them.  Definitely wind, about 20kph, but up high it was fine and smooth, abundant lift everywhere.

Elk was working it's magic yet again and with 1600-1800m altitudes it was easy to fly out towards Ryder Lake and back.  Too windy to try top-landing Upper Bridal (and besides, there's still oodles of snow up there...you could land and sink in up to your knees or hips!) and too windy for heading to the Butterfly, so Kevin and I went only as far as Cheam and played around on the shoulder trying to get high.  I think Al got to 2000m around there.

Lots of wind in the valley but it was smooth and easy landings, at which point we commenced kiting each other's gliders.  Jim had showed up on an errand as it was blown out at Woodside and we basically enjoyed the sun and warmth while playing with gear.  A rather short flight (only a couple of hours) but nice to enjoy the sun and wearing t-shirts in the LZ!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Awesome Bridal April 22

44km OR at Bridal

Too much north wind at Woodside...only Al and Alex got away before it started blowing over the back, and they got as far as Durieu School before landing.

Heading for Cheam after getting to 2400m at the Butterfly
The rest of us headed to Bridal as we thought the north wind wouldn't be so prevalent there and Bridal is generally easier to launch in N/E winds vs. Woodside.  Yup, up on launch it was straight-in cycles and Peter and Greg were already climbing out above launch.

It was a bit rough right over launch, but once higher it smoothed out and I was able to climb right out to Archibald in that one climb.  With such high climbs my goal for the day was to fly over Cheam since that opportunity doesn't happen that often, so I headed east.

Coming up to the cornices on Cheam


Not quite able to get above the summit at Cheam itself; the best lift actually seemed to be closer to the Butterfly or Ludwig, where we were getting 2400m.  Using such altitude, Peter pushed into Laidlaw before returning, and Alex pushed on Barr Mountain before returning as well.  Meanwhile Kevin and I had returned to Cheam for try #2, and we got a bit closer, but still no cigar!

Alex joined us and then, instead of trying to thermal up and glide over Cheam, we decided to try ridge soaring up the north side and get over the peak that way.  In the end that didn't work (getting over the summit I mean), but we were able to ridge soar *really* close for 15-20 minutes in very light north wind, practically scraping our gliders against the snow, the lift was so smooth.

Kevin's new D2
 It was extremely awesome to be able to fly so close to the terrain; we were dodging around cornices, and the late afternoon sun was causing mini-avalances all along the north side.  One such avalanche from above came down on me just as I was passing underneath and I heard the patter of chunks of snow on my glider as they bounced off and continued down the avalanche chute.

The wind finally died off and we were ultimately denied the summit (it seems on the best altitude days, the best altitude is actually *not* at the summit, but elsewhere!).  But the soaring of the north face was very satisfying and we weren't done yet!  Off to Elk for some very-late evening soaring and it was photo time of Kevin's new Delta2.

It's getting dark...time to land!
By this time it was approaching 8pm and I was getting kinda hungry, so we all headed back to Bridal for a nice touchdown in light winds.  Of course the grass was already dewy so there will be some glider drying going on tonight!  It was a spectacular flight; we don't often get the chance to get so high on regular inflow days, and the ridge soaring of Cheam was an especially nice treat!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Woodside April 14

32km FAI triangle

A rather iffy day with lots of OD predicted and possible storms later on.  We weren't sure if it would be flyable, and if so, for how long, so we were gonna take what we could get.  Up on launch it was OD'ing and snowing over on Sasquatch and also over Agassiz, but the skies were changing rapidly and pretty soon the Agassiz snowstorm cleared up.

Looking back at Hopyard and Cemetary on my way to Bridal.

I had no interest in heading west towards the OD that was hanging out on the Sasquatch side, and doing the Woodside-Bridal run via Bear was getting old, and there were lots of clouds in the valley, so I decided to try Woodside to Bridal via Harvest Market (normally not done due to airspace limitations or lack of clouds since it's a really long glide otherwise!).

A nice cu over Hopyard Hill and I was back at cloudbase (not high, mind you, only 1100m or so) and then after another tankup by the Agassiz/Rosedale bridge, arrived on the Bridal side to lots of shade.  There was a huge cu just west of Bridal proper, so I stayed well east and tanked up at Cheam while Alex and Dennis were coming from Ludwig.

As I said before, the skies would change rapidly, so by the time I tanked up and thought about heading west again, the big cu had moved off and it looked safer to be heading that way.  The Deimos crew were out on Bridal launch with a truck, so you can now drive straight to Bridal launch.

Nice skies in the middle of the valley!
Lots of shade west of Upper Bridal and no joy at Gloria, so I flew out to the lower bench where the sun was and beamed out again to cloudbase, which by now had risen to an almighty 1400m.  Since I had done the via-Harvest route coming here, I decided to try the more direct line back to Woodside via Rosedale, and there were clouds out that way to help me along.

But not enough clouds, or not enough lift on the sandbars, and I landed short on the south side of the river directly across from Riverside.  Fortunately Ihor had said earlier he'd come after me, so it wasn't long before he swung by to take me the long way back to Woodside.  Meanwhile Dennis had landed at the Bridal LZ, and Alex had taken the Harvest route back and gotten some lift on the sandbars (I think he stole my lift!) and back to Woodside.  Al had landed around the base of Hicks, while Fred was still in the air when we all headed home.  Last we heard Fred had landed on an unconnected sandbar and was trying to figure out a way to the mainland, and finally got himself across either by swimming or wading.  The sandbars are disappearing fast, and all the ones that were connected only 2 weeks ago are now either gone altogether, or now islands.  Pretty soon the Fraser Valley crossings will become that much harder!
Landed on the wrong side of the river, but Ihor was to the rescue!

It was a pretty sweet flight, considering how it could have OD'd all over and shut us down completely; it was nice to actually get some XC in and not feel trapped by big clouds.  Today there was enough blue skies around and light winds, that there was always an escape route possible from the OD and we didn't have to worry about getting trapped on the wrong side of a towering cu.