Lower MacKenzie Pemberton May 9-11

 The forecast was calling for a period of sunny and unstable weather in Pemberton, and coincidentally both Alex and I were able to take full advantage of the weather window, going to Pemberton for 3 days.

Saturday was looking like a light-wind, high-base day so I wanted to do the 100km out-and-return "milkrun" to Spindrift and back.  Several other pilots were chasing me while some other pilots went down Lilloet Lake instead.

RASP for MacKenzie May 9

The going to Hurley Pass was uneventful except for some rough air in the Owl-Barbour gap where I had a nice blowout on 2/3 bar.  Fortunately it was symmetrical so not too much required to fix and onwards I went ;)

Cloudbase was around 2700m at this point and there was ~15 kph of west wind, accelerating through the Hurley Pass, so crossing was slow and I had to do the usual "skip the first thermal on the other side, and use the next one away from the gap instead" trick.  Lots of lift on the other side and the same slow progress over North Creek as well.

Re-crossing the Hurley Pass after tagging Spindrift and the 50 km mark.

Getting around the corner of Spindrift and to the 50km mark was actually OK considering the headwind and clouds were forming all over the place, with big clouds starting to form around Birkenhead Peak and along the Duffy Lake stretch and down to Lilloet Lake.  It was time to return home before getting caught on the wrong side of one of those clouds!

The return was quick (!) and cloudbase had risen to around 3000m and pilots were starting to report strong suck and rain behind Mt. Barbour.  So it was quite easy to ride the leading edge of the cloudstreet all the way to Owl Ridge with few top-ups required.  The gaggle which had gone to Lilloet Lake had returned and were starting to go to the Hurley Pass but I believe most turned around early so as to not get caught up behind any late-day overdevelopment.

Back in Pemberton it was mini-Whistler Expressing so most pilots were landing at the Beer Farm and the taco truck that was also parked there.  I had parked at the new sportsfield so landed there instead to save the retrieve issues later on, and was able to tack on another 10km of distance to make a 111 km out and return flight.  The general consensus was of a fantastic flying day with some OD at the end to make things interesting and lots of smiling faces at the Beer Farm!

Socially-distanced camping after a fun day of flying.

111 km OR return in Pemberton.            

The following day looked a bit windier, and after the great flights of the day before, Alex and I decided to take the day off from flying and hike the Mile One Lake to Nairn Falls trail instead.  The trail was deserted (it was a Monday) and the campground at Nairn was still closed so we pretty much the entire Nairn waterfalls to ourselves!

Tuesday was looking like a slightly more-stable day vs. the previous 2 days, which was good from a flying deep point of view, but it made the MacKenzie basin climbout a bit slow.  But we were able to get to 2600m over the antennas and glide over Lil'wat Mountain.  I've always found the Lil'wat to Cassiope to Duffy Lake Pass stretch to be a bit of a "washing machine" with lots of turbulence and generally rough air, and today was no different!  It took me a while to get high enough for the glide across the Duffy Lake Pass to Duffy Peak on the other side; Peter and Alex were ahead by then, with Dave and Tom Furst below me.

Rasp for Twin Goat Tuesday May 11.  We actually got much higher than forecast!

Going down Lilloet Lake was pretty easy and I skipped one bump further than I'd been before, landing on Twin 2 Peak.  T2P was not working when I arrived so I had to hang out for about 15 minutes before I found a climb to 3200m which was plenty to get me back to Duffy Peak.  Alex and Pete had gone 5km further, to Priory Peak, but I was happy to get high enough at my peak to get back to "friendly" LZ's with no issues.

At Duffy Peak, heading SE along Lilloet Lake

Crossing back to Cassiope was easier than I thought it would be (getting to 3300m at Duffy Peak probably had something to do with it!) but there was a shelf of cloud forming between Lil'wat and the MacKenzie basin area, shading the area out.  I was already on the Lil'wat side so decided to try to run the clouds along to the Coyote launch and the Industrial Park, and try to reconnect with MacKenzie that way, while other pilots tried the direct over-Ivey-Lake route, and others tried via Mt. Currie.

Alex at Priory Peak, looking NW towards Mt. Currie.  Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.

My route did not work and I landed at the new sportsfield and where the car was parked, so I wasn't too upset, especially since many other pilots who had recrossed successfully were reporting rough conditions on Owl Ridge and not having too much fun.  Fortunately the shelf of clouds over MacKenzie basin were depressing any tendency for Whistler Express so the landings at the schoolbus LZ were actually quite mild, and in fact the wind there was from Meager instead of Pemberton.

61km OR down Lilloet Lake and return in Pemberton.


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