After making plans with the local pilots we rendezvoused at the Ripley LZ, which is situated below a hike-up site facing NE and the morning winds. Apparently it's often ridge soarable in the early morning as the morning winds come off the lakes to the north, before the daytime heating takes over and establishes the usual SW routine.
The hike up is easy and about 30 minutes (it's a low site and easy to sink out!) of grassland hiking, to a large launch which also doubles as the toplanding area. Lots of space to layout and a nice tree to hide under for shade. Make sure when flying there to not overfly the house below and to the south of launch...the landowner likes his privacy! The local housethermal appears to be to the south of launch, unless it's windy enough to ridge soar in which case you can explore the entire slope!
Across the road/trail and to the north is Otto's, another hike-up site which faces roughly the same direction as Ripley...there were pilots at both launches, so it's mainly a personal preference thing. Apparently the Otto launch is smaller so less toplanding opportunities available, and more a morning thermal site.
|Ripley launch with Otto's launch in the midground.|
I pushed north for a bit but the north wind was quite strong and hard to push north, and the further north you go the close to you get to the Penticton airport. In fact the airspace around Ripley is restricted to 6500'...you have to fly south to Oliver before you can legally go higher. With this restriction I decided to stay local and play around the bumps in the middle of the valley, which are low angle and a bit technical, but fun to fly around and sightsee into the small valleys in amongst the small hills. There was a fair bit of air traffic out of both Penticton and Oliver so I had to keep my eyes peeled!
Eventually I radioed that I was going to fly SE to the west-facing side of the valley and crossed low to the other side. But with the 6500' limit and the low-angle-ness of the far side, coupled with the north wind scrubbing along the sides of the mountains, it was hard to get up on the other side and I ended up landing in a scrubfield alongside the mountain road to Baldy sky hill. Meanwhile Alex and others were landing at the LZ to reconvene at Anarchist later that afternoon.
Over at Anarchist later that afternoon it was quite strong on launch. Unlike the friendly Ripley launch, Anarchist is a steep bluff with lots of hot rocks baking in the sun directly underneath, with lots of straggly trees and rocks to catch on if you get dragged back, so you want to get it right the first time!
|Looking at Osoyoos lake and the US border.|
The wind had switched to SW but it was strangely "weak" lift, so even though the cycles on launch were medium-strong, I didn't find the lift to be super-abundant. Lots of thermals, yes, but disorganized and falling apart, so difficult to get high. But very scenic with Osoyoos lake in front (a nice way to see any wind coming, BTW!) and the Sonora Dunes Golf Course directly underneath, the lush green fairways contrasting nicely with the surrounding brown desert. In fact the golf course is where we landed, and it was a very nice to pack up indeed! (Try not to land there while they are open, but instead after they close, usually after 5pm, and even then, use a fairway that is not still in use, and move off to the side.)
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