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!









2 comments:

  1. Nice flight Nic! Too bad I got trapped by that huge system in your pic and could'nt make
    the bridle run. Always super cool to be over the top Cheam!
    Al

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