Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mt. St. Benedict on a smokey day

Possible new Mt. St. Benedict lower launch.
The forecasts were looking quite good for Mt. St. Benedict so a big group (14 or so) of pilots headed up to fly!

Possible new lower launch.
The road to the new cutblocks has been buffed right up and it's now 2-wheel driveable (high clearance, although 4-wheel drive would be better) to these cutblocks.  Two of them show promise as a lower Mt. St. Benedict launch, which would allow us to fly there sooner in the season (when the upper launch is still snowed-in) and also save on wear-n-tear on trucks driving up.  Some work needs to be done, but when we were there at noon it was already on and it's an easy glide to the Virtue LZ.

Once past the new cutblocks the road is rougher with cross-ditches, but easily driveable all the way to the upper launch.  New black carpet also covers launch to keep the bushes and twig out of your glider, and it's also possible for hang gliders to launch now (Pedro brought his HG up).

New carpet and our first (?) hang glider at upper launch!
We could see smoke from the US forest fires coming up from the south into the Fraser Valley, but we were still in the clear.  We heard reports from Bridal that Woodside looked smoked in, although other reports said Woodside was just fine in the smoke.

Looking north at Stave Lake, Roby Reid, and the Judge.
There was plenty of lift and busting airspace was once again an issue as the climbs were going well beyond 1981m.  Andrew, Peter, and Al went to Blinch Lake and back, while Gary flew to Dewdney and back.  I had an airport pickup later that evening so I didn't want to land out and have a long retrieve (which normally wouldn't be too bad due to the loads of quads etc that were cruising the backroads this weekend) so I stuck to the main valley.

Watching the forest fire smoke approach from the US and the Fraser Valley
The smoke was coming down the valley and shading things out at the Dewdney end so I crossed the valley to the Mission side to play around over there.  Not much lift (I actually wasn't expecting any, given the lack of clouds) but I was able to stay up for a bit and eventually landed at the school while most others landed at the Virtue LZ.

The smoke is starting to obscure the tops of the Sylvester peaks.
I think that was the biggest crowd of pilots we've ever had at Benedict, and possible the first hang glider flight off the upper launch (??).  Up until now the last part was hike-in only, but now that the road is opened up for all 4-wheel drive vehicles we may see some more flying there!


Still clear air to the north!




2 comments:

  1. Hey Nicole,

    Sounds like good flights all the way around...awesome. Nice flight pics.

    Gerry LaMarsh and I flew there back on July 24th, 2010. Gerry in his paraglider and I in my hang glider.
    Conditions weren't ideal but still desirable and lightly soarable. Gerry had an extended sled ride then landed close. I launched my hang glider, worked for a while, then lucked out and eventually got good altitude and flew up to Mission and played around for a bit on the west side, then eventually back to Dewdney then landed at the Hatzic entrance. It was a memorable flight. (Thanks again to Gerry for taking us there)
    Leo Frietas was also there with us, he brought his hang glider but did not end up flying.

    I'm not sure if any other Hangies have ever launched from there before, I wonder if Martin Henry may have flown off Benedict years earlier, I believe Martin has previously flown from Sylvester.....but not too sure either way???

    Regardless...What A Awesome place to fly. I'm curious what is available for landing options close by for high performance Hangies where a bit of a larger field with nice clean air would be preferred???

    Cheers,
    Greg Buckmaster

    P.S. If you want to respond please drop me a line at greg.judy@hotmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Hey Greg,

      Thanks for letting me know about your earlier hang gliding flights there! The largest LZ at the moment (and the bombout when not going XC) is the dike LZ at the base of the powerline gap. Aside from a couple of trees it's pretty open and (IMO) large enough for high performance hang gliders. There is a windsock installed. Only thing is you have to walk out to Sylvester Road where the parking is, since the dike is gated. It's a 5-8 minute walk. Head to Google maps and put in 49.26612, -122.2227 to find the dike LZ.

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