Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sun Valley Aug 22

Alex goes flying after totality.  This is Riley Butte near the OR/ID border.
A quick trip to Sun Valley as we were in the area already for the Total Solar Eclipse.  The forest fire smoke had temporarily receded for the eclipse (yay!) but was now making its way back into the area.

A few minutes after totality.
It was a blue day for the most part and all the local XC pilots showed up at launch, so we knew it was going to be good!  An initial inversion around 10,000' but we were getting high enough to make the transition over to Sun Peak and work our way to Trail Pass.

Conditions were quite funky at the entrance to Trail Pass and I wasn't getting high enough to make the transition over the no-landings stretch of the Pass...Alex made it over as well as Gavin and Nate (eventually) but I just couldn't get high enough!

Cloudbase was around 23,000' in the back!
Eventually I decided to abandon the Pass and turned NW to Galena Pass instead.  The winds were actually pretty light (for Sun Valley) so the headwind wasn't that much of an issue.  And once I got away from the funkiness of Trail Pass the conditions improved a lot!  It was still blue, with the smoke returning quickly, but I was getting better and better climbs.  Just SE of Galena Pass I was getting to 17,000' and cloudbase (cu's had started to form in the back ranges) seemed to be around 22,000'!  Too bad the smoke was getting quite bad from the fires and I couldn't really see much...
Smokey conditions en-route back to Ketchum.

I could have jumped over Galena Pass with ease but I decided to make the return run to Ketchum.  Alex and Gavin had landed out on the other side of Trail Pass and was en-route back to Ketchum, and Nate was somewhere attempting a big triangle.  The return was quite quick and I actually did my final glide to Ketchum from 20+ km out.

Bald Mountain in the afternoon.
It was quite windy in Ketchum with the afternoon valley flow so pilots were hiking up Sun Peak for an afternoon flight.  I don't think anybody made it away from Sun Peak that day, but it was a nice end to an otherwise smokey day.