|No wind and high lift!|
I dropped Alex off at the Rainbow hike-n-fly launch in Whistler (he had his own XC plans for the day) and I then continued on to Pemberton to meet with the scheduled 10am shuttle to upper MacKenzie launch. My day was not starting off well...I forgot my instrument and radio at home as well as my extra clothes and sunscreen at the LZ (in part because we left the house so early and I was still tired from the day before)! Fortunately I was able to use my backup setup...XC Track on my phone and my helmet beeper vario, and I was able to scrounge a spare radio from Guy.
I didn't actually launch until around 1pm but I think I could have launched around 12:30pm...the clouds were looking delicious but the earlier launchers were sinking out and the pilots at Rainbow were just barely climbing out (and they were at an earlier site). But once in the air it was clear it was ON. I beamed out to 2800m and then it was time to decide what I was going to do...I had previously decided I wanted to fly down Lilloet Lake and return, before doing the usual Spindrift-and-return run, but at launch Stefan had suggested flying to Whistler instead.
|Wedgemount Lake coming into view. Armchair Glacier on the left.|
Oodles of lift at Handcar and it was light north, so I decided I was going to get outside my comfort zone (!) and go for it. Stefan and Miguel and I crossed over to Currie, where it was actually significant north and the thermals were scrubbing alongside the rocks, and we committed to flying south. This part was slightly scary since the only places to land to the south of Currie are not that great: boulder fields, the riverbank next to the Rutherford River, or in random clearings next to high tension power lines, not the most comforting places to set down into!
After the first few climbs I was able to get to cloud base around 3200m, the north wind died, and then I was feeling good about my options since I was just so high and I could actually make the glide to safe landing spots near Green Lake in Whistler, even from this far out. The scenery between Mt. Currie and Wedge Mountain was spectacular with many overhanging lakes and glaciers all over the place, all topped with puffy cu's.
|Wedge Lake and Wedge Glacier.|
|Crossing from Blackcomb to Whistler Mountain. Black Tusk and Daisy Lake in the distance.|
|Crossing to Black Tusk under a cloud street. Mount Garibaldi and Howe Sound in the distance.|
It was getting late, around 7:30pm, the sun angle was very low on the slopes past Hurley Pass and many of the ridges out towards North Creek were in shade. Given the time of day and slowness of the climbs, and the fact that I've never landed out at Hurley Pass and I wasn't about to start now (!), I decided to turn around and run back to Pemberton in the fading daylight. As I overflew Copper Dome I could see a group of pilots who had landed for an overnight vol bivy on the ridge.
The Pemberton valley was starting to get dark, so even though I was in sun, the lower slopes were in shade, so if I got low I was unlikely to get high again. Fortunately the slopes felt much like Bridal at the end of the day, where you can just contour along and there is enough light lift that you don't really need to turn. I started my final glide from Copper Dome at 2300m, 20 km out, and arrived at the LZ with 1100m to spare :)
|About to pass over Black Tusk. Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Lake, and Mount Garibaldi in the background.|
140 km out and return.