The previous day I had chased for Guillaume and Alex who flew to Fort Steele and Jaffray (200-240km), today was a fly day for me. Lots of pilots in Golden for the Willi Muller XC Challenge, plus the BCXC group was in town, so launch was a bit busy!
|Mt. 7 Windgram for July 27
Launched and was able to get above launch right away which started the lemming-effect on launch, glad I was in the air by then! I found the air was not very pleasant and had a lot of north in it, and with all the ridges on Mt. 7 that creates lots of lee spots. I spent a lot of time trying to get high, and eventually my persistence paid off with a thermal to 3900+ m right over the peak of Mt. 7 (CYA167 goes to FL250!).
With that kind of altitude I was able to skip the whole Pagliaro business and get straight to Bicarbonate peak, and then it was the usual fight to stay high, but not so high that you were busting airspace (in that area @ 3810m). Pilots were busting airspace all over the place as cloud base was somewhere near 4200+m, and going deep whenever the opportunity presented itself. I was finding the air bouncy and rough (typical Golden!) and did not want to go deep at the range split, as I've seen what that can do to pilots who get low and now need to make their way out in the lower-down wind, or toss their reserve back there and end up with an epic walkout or heli-rescue required.
|We are allowed quite high at Mt. 7, but once south, our allowed airspace lowers.
Was working my way along the Brisco/Spur Valley section when we heard that Guillaume had tossed his reserve near the Judge peak and Diana Lake, had a long reserve ride down (enough time to stuff his glider in his pod!), and crashed through the trees, not catching, and hitting the ground. He was complaining of a sore back and was walking out to the Diana Lake lodge where there were staff and guests, but was asking me and Alex, via his DeLorme, to arrange a retrieve from the Diana Lake trailhead.
While all this was going on I was getting tossed around as I was approaching Radium, and the rocks were getting uncomfortably close, and my spidey senses were going off, so I opted to head out and landed in Radium, while Alex landed in Invermere. I was able to thumb a ride back to Nicholson right away (the second car that came by stopped for me!), and when Alex returned he was able to arrange a truck to the trailhead to pick Guillaume up.
|Overflying Kapristo peak, cloud base somewhere around 4200+m. Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.
Guillaume was checked out and nothing broken, just bruised, and a few days later his gear was retrieved from where he had stashed it for the original hike out.
Even after flying there for 20+ years, I still fly out and land if things are getting too rowdy for my comfort level. If planning to fly Golden, please have a satellite tracking device so others can find you, as there will often be zero cell service and your radio will only transmit so far. In this case Guillaume was able to let us know via his radio, and subsequently via his satellite tracker, that he was OK and his self-rescue plans, which meant there was no need to involve Golden Search and Rescue. Golden SAR was actually used a few days later for another pilot who had tossed near Parson, gotten caught up on a cliff during his descent, and required SAR to extract him from the cliff while he had pelvic injuries. Golden is a big air, strong, turbulent, prone to wind, and demands respect!