Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mt. St. Benedict March 30 and 31

What an awesome period of weather we just had!  Usually when we get several "sunny" days in a row, it actually stables out and becomes less good after day 1.  But this time it stayed unstable, at least in the Miracle Valley, for 3-4 days.

Saturday we had a bit of overdevelopment deep in the backcountry, but nothing too serious out front, so it was a good day to work out the kinks and look longingly to the north.  Really stable out in the Fraser Valley, you could see the haze and inversion as soon as you left the Miracle Valley.  Cloudbase was somewhere above the legal airspace limit of 1981m, so it was tough to stay below that if you weren't careful!

Sunday was The Day however.  Similar conditions to Saturday, but no OD in the backcountry, and the winds remained light, and the cloudbase was somewhere around 2300m.  This time I resolved to head north and explore some of the more remote peaks.  Fortunately because it was a weekend there was oodles of traffic on the backroad FSR's...I could see lots of quads and trucks and bikes, so if I had to land back there I had a reasonable chance of getting a ride back to civilization.

Looking down at Hemlock Ski Resort on my way to the Chehalis FN community LZ.
Heading north to Statlu Peak I had Kevin, Claudia, and Rod Frew in tow, but after getting low on Statlu they opted to turn around (I think Claudia headed to the Norrish Valley to join up with Peter).  But I was hungry for some more north-action so after topping up I jumped even further back to Jasper Peak, at which point I was beyond the lower airspace limit, and allowed to legally get higher than 1981m.  I took full advantage of that by going to 2300m under cloudbase and then headed east towards Chehalis Lake where I could see a steady stream of vehicles heading in and out of that recreational area.

The clouds in the Norrish Valley were getting a bit large, and once getting to Chehalis Lake the 1981m airspace restriction kicks in again, making it tougher to successfully fly west back to Stave Lake.  Flew over the Hemlock Ski Resort and a nice landing at the Chehalis First Nations community, where Martin N offered to retrieve me.  Many thanks Martin for doing that!

Meanwhile Alex had flown to Mt. Judge Howay and return for his own epic flight, and Igor flew halfway up Harrison Lake before returning to the Fraser Valley to close his 100km triangle.  It was an awesome day at Mt. St. Benedict, one of the few where the winds and cloudbase conspired to give almost-perfect conditions.

March 31 flight.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Woodside March 23

The winter in Vancouver has been long and the snow has stuck around for quite a bit, so the launch access has been delayed a couple of weeks while the snow melts.  But today was the day to get some XC in!  It was a sunny weekend day and it was so nice to see everyone out after a long 3 month hiatus.

But flying was calling and it was tough to figure out where to go.  Cloudbase was going to be quite low, something like 1300m at best, but it was also going to be very light winds, which is always nice when you are trying to make valley crossings from low down.  Also there are lots of sandbars to provide flatland thermals, and LZ's if need be ;)

Coming over Harrison Knob with Woodside in the background.  Lots of sandbars are available now!

Going west to Deroche was OK but the low cloudbase made thing challenging, although coming back via Harrison Knob was a nice touch.  Going over the back to Agassiz Mountain was easy, but there was some NW wind which made getting up at Bear difficult for those who arrived low...if you arrived above the bench you had a much better chance of getting up.  Lots of people crossed over to Ludwig and then Bridal/Gloria/Elk/etc, but I decided to go to Green Hill and try it out.  The clouds were cycling there so it was a nice challenge to stay alive between cycles.  I eventually got high at the Bear end, high enough to re-cross back to Agassiz Mountain, and then ride the spine back to Woodside, just squeaking over the ridge behind launch and into the 15 kph headwind.


The day started off quite shady but by the end of the day, it had blued up nicely and was possibly flying in the bigger mountains.  Cloudbase never got above 1400m so well done to those who flew to Bridal and back to Woodside successfully!