Lower McKenzie Pemberton May 29-30

 The upper launch is now open, however we have been asked to stay off the grass up there in order to let it grow and re-establish after a hard winter.  It's still early enough in the season to get away from Lower launch, so after chucking our bags in a truck heading to Lower, a group of around 12 of us hiked up to Lower via the Cloudbase Grind trail.  Hiking without the bag is so nice!

A nice crowd of pilots on launch and we could see some Igor and Vlad in the air already on the SE corner of McKenzie, having launched from Upper launch in order to have the altitude to get around the corner to the morning side.  However they were not getting away so it looked to not be an early, or fast, or big day.  That meant that our tentative plans to fly to Whister and then back via Wedge and over the back of Wedget to Lilloet Lake and returning that way would have to wait for another day with higher base.  We had also heard reports that pilots launching from Rainbow launch in Whistler had sunk out, so yet another data point that it was going to be slow-ish day.

Note to pilots leaving paraglider bags on launch unattended: Don't do this, especially if you have food/smelly items inside!  We had one pilot's bag ripped open by the local black bear after he left it in the bushes while he was taking his retrieve vehicle back down and then hiking back up (a period of ~2 hours).  Patches of repair tape later and a working glider and harness again.  The helmet will probably need to replaced though.  We think it was the scented sunscreen in the paraglider bag the bear was going after.

Looking up Pemberton meadows to the lenticulars beginning to form

After fighting to get high for a bit between Lower and Upper launch, I said forget it and started heading for Owl low...I figured I only needed to get past the gap and onto Barbour, and then I'd be home free.  But that didn't happen, and I scunged along until Copper where I finally found a good climb which took me to 2800m and a comfortable altitude for the Hurley Pass crossing.

Once west of Hurley Pass it was indeed a bit easier, but you had to take care not to get too low, sink into the stable-zone, and have to fight your way back out.  The going to Spindrift was a bit slow with all the sink around, and it was only on the return, after re-crossing North Creek, that things felt "easy".

While re-crossing Hurley Pass we heard reports that Slava had gotten too low and deep behind Goat Mountain and had landed somewhere near Chipmunk Mountain at around 1400m.  At this altitude it's still winter and snowy, so we were initially concerned for Slava's wellbeing, but he was OK and found a snowmobile trail, and shortly thereafter was rescued by some passing snowmobilers on their way back to civilization.  He was dropped off a the Beer Farm later that evening :)

All in all, a rather difficult day and good training for staying up and high above the stability!

111km OR in Pemberton.

Sprucing up the safety hut!

The following day was not really flyable, but a good work day.  A crew of us went to Upper launch to spread more grass seed and also to do some upgrades to the safety hut.  Most drove down after finishing work but a few tandems flew before it got too cross and windy.

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