Friday, July 28, 2017

Pemberton Canadian Nationals July 28

After a couple of blown-out days we were very eager to get back in the air!  We also found out we now have access to the Rodeo Grounds goal field (near Lilloet Lake), however there was a Whistler Express predicted for this afternoon which meant it wouldn't really be safe to make a task that either went, or finished, in that direction, since it would entail overflying Pemberton during the windy period.  So, for safety's sake, we decided to make a task which would keep us away from the Whistler Express-ing area and instead up towards the Hurley end.

Because the previous task had worked well with a start and then turnpoint around Miller, we figured it would work again to keep the field spread out a bit over the ridge.  However when I launched I didn't immediately zoom to cloudbase like in previous days, so I could tell it was going to be a slightly more difficult day to get up over McKenzie and getting to Miller would not be a cakewalk!

Looking back at Mt. Barbour.  Forest fire smoke in the distance from the BC Interior fires.
With the SW winds the ideal spot to wait for the start was actually over Upper Launch since it would be more downwind to Miller, but I followed some pilots getting high at Fraser instead but I didn't connect to the clouds like they were.  And it just wasn't working for me; pilots all around were getting to 2600m but I could barely get above the ridge.  So when the start came at 2:30 I was nowhere near high enough to make the crossing and had to spend an additional 20 minutes working my way higher before I could finally get on courseline.  It was painful to watch everyone pull away from me and realize I had to be patient; if I blindly followed the lead gaggle from my altitude I would be on the ground quick.

Of course those who were high at the start were able to get away much easier, and they had the choice of which route to take to the Hurley Pass and Tender Mountain: either take a chance on getting high and taking the shorter but riskier Miller route to the Hurley Pass, or tag Miller and run back to the sunny side, and take the longer but more reliable route to Hurley Pass.  I saw pilots on both routes, and I think the Miller route was indeed a bit faster.  I was not so lucky in that I was still not very high from my bad start, so I had to take the longer route anyways.  Sigh.

Final gliding to the Miller LZ under a perfect evening sky.
Fortunately it was working fantastically at Barbour/Copper/Goat, and I was able to get to 3000+m which meant an easy crossing of the Hurley Pass in both directions and epic views of the Chilcotin and the BC Interior.  Pilots were doing much better at handling the crossing too today; I didn't see as many low or deep pilots unlike the previous day!

The rest of the flight was a very fast ridge run with strong climbs (6-7m/s) and cu's popping around 3000m.  The final turnpoint at Goat took a bit of careful work, as we (the task committee) had miscalculated and put a 1 km turnpoint around the peak, and it turns out that is very close to terrain, and in a turbulent spot when it's windy from the west.  We should have made it 1.5 or 2 km I think.  But as far as I know, there were no incidents, just a word of caution over the radio (thanks Jesse!), and it was uneventful from then on.  I ended up making goal slowly after my bad start, but that's better than not making goal at all!

Congratulatory selfie!
Once again there were oodles of pilots in goal and several personal bests for both distance, time, or altitude.  I think pilots are liking Pemberton!





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