Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Windy Camrose May 13

I was towing and driving today so no flying for me, although there wasn't much flying for the PG's in any case with the 50 kph gusts rolling through ;)  It finally died down enough around 4pm at which point Brett got away for 43 km.  Will never got away, and Mario got away to 5 km (his first time getting away on tow!).

Bev Johns getting ready for her first tow of the day.
The HGers had goal at Brooks, 235 km away, and several came close although nobody made goal in the end.  The skies were looking great but the lift was weak and the climbs were slow, and cloudbase was actually lower than yesterday by ~ 400 m.

Epic Camrose May 12

165 km in the Alberta flatlands

The daysland group of HGers getting set up.

Two days in a row of nice XC conditions!  Today was a bit of a later start with less cu's compared to yesterday when Brett had his 207 km flight, and it took me 3 tows to finally get away from the Daysland N-S tow road.  The first 25km or so were rather painful...slow climbs and I didn't really want to fall out of anything so close to the tow road and ruin a potentially awesome day by landing so early, so I had to be patient until it started to really turn on.

Leif Hanson taking off.

Once I had achieve cloudbase (initially around 3000m) I wanted to start munching the km's, however to the south it was a blue hole and the cu's were all to the north and east of me.  With the strong NNW wind it was pretty much head SSE and I kept coming to the edge of the blue hole, and would have to wait around for the more moist (more unstable?) airmass to catch up to me before I could continue on.  I kept this up pretty much the entire flight, coming to the boundary between dry and moist air, waiting around for it to migrate south, and then move on.  It was kinda frustrating to know that I could be flying much faster if the cu's would only form ahead of me instead of behind me!

Rob Clarkson getting ready to tow.

Cloudbase just kept going up until I finally stopped climbing just past the 3300m mark as it was just too cold (-10C plus windchill) to stay up there for very long.  Good thing about getting low: you get to warm up!  But I opted to stay high and cold rather than low and warm as I wanted to get as much out of the day as possible.


Tongue-cam!  The only part of my body that would activate my phone's camera since I wasn't about to take my gloves off in -10C + WC to take photos!
Finally the cu's stopped popping to the south and were only popping to the east.  Time to veer more easterly but the north wind was still quite strong (30-35kph) so flying crosswind wasn't really working too well, and I kept being pushed south into the blue.  Finally around 5:30 pm it was time to land in some pretty remote territory with 165 km under my belt (160 km straight distance) for a new Canadian female OD record and a new PB!

New PB! (Clock is an hour off due to timezone change)
Thanks so much to Brett who opted to take the day off after his big flight yesterday and be the retrieve driver...it was a 3 hour retrieve (or 6+ for him!  I'm very stoked about the flight even though it was slower than I would have liked...if the cu's had been popping in the right direction it would have been a 200+km day for sure!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweet Woodside May 7

A slow start, hard to get above launch and stay there, but eventually Al, Guy, Mark, and myself got up to cloudbase around 1300m and then over the back to Agassiz Mountain.  Pretty straightforward flight to Agassiz, Bear, and Ludwig, except the winds were all over the place making the thermals hard to figure out sometimes.  But it "turned on" by the time we reached Ludwig and then it was the straight run with hardly any turning all the way to Elk, where I had to decide whether to make the return crossing to Woodside now or later.  Going now would mean I'd have the advantage of the clouds still forming in the middle of the valley, but a lower base in general.  Waiting would mean a higher base but more valley wind and no clouds to mark any remaining valley lift.

I decided now was the time so I headed off with 1500m of altitude and almost immediately I found lots of sink.  But I pushed on, hoping one of the clouds forming over Rosedale would be working, and I was able to milk some lift from 800m back up to 1200m.  Unfortunately the valley winds had kicked in so by the time I topped out I had drifted downwind to almost Harvest Market, not the ideal place to try to make it around the corner to Woodside!

Almost made it to the south knob but the wind was whipping around the corner so I ended up landing in Harvest West LZ in about 25 kph of west wind.  Meanwhile Al had landed on the south side of the Fraser River and Guy had landed in Agassiz.  Mark landed at Seabird Island.  A later group had a higher base for the jumping-off point at Elk (1700m) but still nobody made it around the corner of Woodside...Gary Penninga landed close to where I had landed a few hours before but most others landed at Harvest Market.  Kevin got really close but landed just short of Riverside, landing on the south side of the river so required a longer retrieve.  Too bad the river sandbars aren't still attached to the mainland...we could have pushed it a bit more and perhaps made it back to Woodside proper!

52km FAI triangle.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

OD day in Pemberton May 6

 One of those days where it could go either way in Pemberton but given all the FV flying we've done lately it felt the time was right to head north.  Lots of city folks today in addition to the locals, as well as some big clouds forming over the back and to the east.

Mt. Currie in all her glory.
A fairly substantial NW wind meant heading to the Hurley Pass would be slow, and with all the development around you had to be careful not to get trapped on the wrong side of a cell and have limited escape options.  So I opted not to go too far but rather play locally and dodge the cells and use the uber-lift to fly over to the Miller side where it was actually much nicer than the MacKenzie side.

The lift was quite abundant and I was leery about cloudsuck so even though cloudbase looked to be 3000+m, I kept pulling out of the thermals around the 2400-2500m altitude.  Even so it was a bit of a mental game to see how the clouds were developing so I could keep away from the virga and hail that was coming of many of them.

Raining/hailing around Wedge Mountain.  Whistler/Blackcomb in the distance.
Mt. Currie had been in shade or OD for most of the time I was in the air, but I noticed a window of opportunity when the latest round of OD moved off towards Whistler, looking to put Currie in the sun for the next 30 minutes or so.  So I flew over there since Currie is such a cool mountain and we don't often get the chance to fly over there and so high easily.  It was smooth enough to fly against the jagged black cliffs on the NW face before the next round of OD was approaching from the Duffy Lake Road area.

Looking back at Pemberton from Mt. Currie with a decaying cell above Pemberton Meadows.
Not wanting to get caught out with limited places to escape if I started to get cloud sucked from the approaching cell, I got out of there and landed at the Church LZ.  On launch it was reported to be quite strong 25-30 kph but in the LZ it was switching all over the place...I think all the storm cells around were creating localized wind suck.  All in all a nice play session and an excellent chance to brush up on my cloud-suck-avoidance-skills.

Small OR flight in Pemberton dodging OD cells.