Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Outflowing but flyable at Bridal April 29

Watched an avalanche come down this chute earlier!
Outflow conditions so if any flying it would likely be at Bridal.  But it was a late start as the outflow winds never switched to inflow, and the launch conditions were not easy as the cycles had no north to them at all and almost 90 degrees cross.

Outflow conditions!
In the end a truckload of pilots drove down, but 4 or 5 of us managed to launch at which point we had really nice flights.  The best lift was at the foot of Cheam and to the east around the Lakes; I got to 1450m and Alex reported 1600+m in the same area.  Lift was hard to stay in as the wind was scrubbing sideways against the ridge and the trees were quite close!
Cheam summit.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.

Flying along the foot of Cheam I heard what sounded like rocks falling and looked down to see an avalanche of snow and rocks coming down over a precipice and continuing down the avalanche chute below.  The snow is melting quickly although the Lakes are still mostly frozen over.
The LZ is a garden of dandelions!
No big distance today, but given how sparse the launch cycles were, I'm glad we were able to get off the hill and fly in the first place!  We've flown Bridal many times in outflow conditions (and it can be quite nice), but usually there is some north component to help things track up the ridge; today was probably the most east-wind-with-no-north flying we've done in a long time!

April 29 flight.

Coming in to land in no wind.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Woodside April 28

Heading to Harrison knob.  Went this way since Sasquatch was very shady.
Not an auspicious start to the day as we drove out in rain and many storm cells around.  But it did clear up nicely and by the end of the day it was very nice indeed!  Woodside to Sasquatch and back to Woodside via Harrison knob, and then over the back to Bear and then back to Woodside for a couple of out and returns.  Lots of clouds and lift around so it was nice to be able to do the long transitions and get some help partway across.
Heading for West Sasquatch/Deroche via Harrison knob.

I had had enough by then and stayed local and played over the sandbars in the lee of Harrison knob while most everyone else continued flying.  By the end of the day it had actually switched to outflow and all the clouds had dried up.

April 28 flight.
At Green Hill.  The Bridal side wasn't looking too hot so I returned to Woodside.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cloudy Easter @ Woodside April 20

Bob thinks she's going flying!  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.
The weather didn't look too good for the next few days so today was a fly day!  It was initially looking quite passable on the way out with nice cu's and filtered sun, but it had once again shaded over by the time we reached Agassiz and up to launch.  But pilots were staying up so time to get in the air!

It was surprisingly good, given the mostly overcast conditions, and we were able to get to 1300+m over Woodside and the embedded cu sitting overhead.  An easy flight to Agassiz Mountain and then time to head back as it looked to be deteriorating again.

Top-landed to swap gliders and then conditions improved with full-on sun appearing and quite strong in the air compared to the previous flight.  Unfortunately we could see rain heading our way from the west, so out to land before we got rained on.

A sweet mini-XC and a chance to test my glider with no ballast (it flew fine)!

Agassiz and back

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ridgy Woodside April 6

What else to do on a slow Sunday with some wind about?  Fly of course!

It was actually pretty bright and no rain at all on the way out to the FV, and Woodside was being its usual magic self.  Cu's forming over launch and strong cycles and pretty soon we were all soaring around at cloudbase ~ 1000m.  It was a mixture of thermic and windy conditions so it was easy to stay up; whenever a bout of shade came through it calmed down a bit which made top-landing easier.

I flew around for around an hour than top-landed to let Alex try out my glider.  Rather than flying with his I opted to stay on launch and enjoy the sun and watch everyone playing out front.  Many others top-landed throughout the afternoon to recuperate, swap gliders, or just chill, so it was really quite a nice afternoon.  By the end of the day the sunny spells had disappeared and it was totally overcast, but still completely ridge-soarable and in fact mellower since the sun was gone.  When I drove down a final group had just showed up to fly and it was still on by 6pm.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Blanchard April 4

South launch day!
Today was a classic Blanchard day....raining and low cloudbase inland, but sunny with beautiful cu's right on the coast.  We had a posse of Canucks joining up with the regular Blanchard crowd for something like 20 pilots out today!
Nice cu's over the water.
Strong-ish south winds on launch but it wasn't too windy in the air, but my Flymaster wasn't working (dead battery, duh!) so I was sans-instruments today and no idea how windy it was in the air.  Other reports were somewhere in the vicinity of 16kph and cloudbase around 1200-1300m.
Bigger cu's inland!
The air was butter smooth and the thermals were huge so staying up wasn't a problem; several pilots opted to push south and play around over the flats.  Jim and Kevin got low at one point and were heading out to land when Jim found a low save and rode it back to cloudbase with Kevin soon following.  I flew out past Colony Road and over the water for over an hour before returning to the mountain to play with the eagles and Derek and Martin over launch.
Looking back at Blanchard.
The window of nice weather appeared to be closing as the dark clouds previously restricted inland started to merge with the cu's over the coast to make a more solid overcast layer.  The lift was getting easier and easier, so I figured it was time to land before it started raining or overdeveloping.  In the end many pilots trying to land were actually going up directly over the LZ and having to fly around to core sink.
Flying the flats south of the mountain.
A beautiful day at Blanchard with a near-record pilot turnout for a weekday I'm told!
Beautiful San Juan Islands.






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's flight at Woodside


Flight track is here.

Looking back at Woodside from Big Nick, ~1800m
The forecasts were saying a doozy of a day so many of the regular XC hounds found reasons to play hooky ;)  Forecasts were calling for light outflow winds in the morning followed by strong inflow winds by the mid-afternoon, with cloudbase around 2500m by the afternoon, and it was spot-on!

In the air over Woodside it was obviously leeside with nice clouds forming over the towers around 2000+ meters.  A day to watch out for accidentally busting airspace!  We had a bit of an "uh-oh" moment when James had some trouble with his glider, spinning it first one way, stalling it, then spinning the other way in a cascade event until he sorted it out and flew away safely, not hearing the conflicting radio transmissions by two separate pilots of "throw your reserve!" and "hands-up" ;)  

Escaping the large cloud growing behind me.
Meanwhile we were getting high for the crossing to Sasquatch.  With the light outflow winds we were hoping to tag Big Nick or Dewdney (which are not the most pleasant to tag in significant inflow winds) before turning around and doing the Woodside-Bridal triangle for an expected 70-75km FAI triangle.  Crossing to Sasquatch was easy with the slight tailwind and we were well on our way to Big Nick when the inflow kicked in.  A few pilots opted to continue to Dewdney and even Benedict, but I turned around at Big Nick and noticed the cloud over Sasquatch was starting to drop hail out of it, so I boogied it back to Woodside with only a slight hailstorm on me.

Harrison Lake: still glassy so wind hasn't yet arrived on the ground!
It was till glassy on Harrison Bay but the inflow was starting up high so flying to Agassiz Mountain and Bear was uneventful, and even the crossing to Ludwig was OK.  Tonya didn't quite make it and landed on the sandbars at the foot of Ludwig but the rest of us ridge-soared out and then we were fully in the increasing west wind.

That big cloud over Sasquatch had by now grown even more and was starting to shade out Woodside and drop some serious precip out of it, and Al (who had gone to Benedict) reported very strong SW winds at Eagle Ranch with him going straight down and even backwards at times.  Those of us in the air were very glad to be on the Bridal side of things which still had nice skies.
Bundled-up selfie ;)
Martin was on his way back from Hope (after tagging Benedict) on his Atos and reported flying over Cheam, so the rest of us did the same, just because you don't get to say very often that you got above the summit of Cheam!  The clouds were beautiful and it was super-easy to stay up (almost too easy, a sign to keep an eye out for a change for the worse) and we could see some snowmobilers on the summit waving at us as we soared up past them.  Meanwhile the cloud was growing over Agassiz and a new cloudbase was starting to form *under* us at Cheam, so we once again got away from the bad stuff and continued upwind to the nicer-looking clouds.
Looking down at the summit of Cheam from 2400m.
Jones Lake in the background.

It was very slow going as the winds were quite strong from the west, and we were basically on ½ or ¾ speedball the whole way to Elk.  Letting off on the bar meant single digits groundspeed, or even going backwards; fortunately there was plenty of lift so we didn't have to actually stop for anything.

Cloudbase over at Elk was somewhere in the vicinity of 2200m but it was very windy, which meant those who left low enough to stay under the airspace restriction of 1676m once past the Trans-Canada highway were unable to penetrate upwind of Woodside as the howling west wind was whipping around the corner of the mountain.  So in the end we all landed at Harvest Market which was windy but laminar and not a problem.  Meanwhile the cloud over Agassiz had fizzled a bit, but cloudbase at Cheam had dramatically and suddenly lowered to below the summit and it was precipitating over the Butterfly/Lakes region.
Lady Peak from 2400m

It was a very awesome flight since we usually don't get to fly to Big Nick unless it's light winds, and by then sometimes we simply don't have time to do the regular triangle afterwards due to the length of the day or the wind.  Today we almost did it except for the final ~3km and we got the bonus of flying over Cheam summit.  And we were able to stay ahead of the bad weather chasing behind us (except for the winds) which was nice too.

Cloud over Sasquatch grew and enveloped Woodside/Agassiz
before moving towards Ludwig and fizzling.
And as for the Peak 3, it performed flawlessly.  Flying from Ludwig to Elk, except for when we stopped at Cheam, we had to pretty much stay on our speedballs the entire way or risk being blown back.  The glider held up quite nicely on the bar in wind, rotor, and lift (not even stopping for that, there was so much of it), with nary a blowout although a lot of active flying was required.  It essentially flies like a baby Icepeak 6 but a tiny bit mellower!