The forecast was calling for east and northeast wind in the Fraser Valley, which will often produce thermals going high enough to get over the peak of Cheam. This happens maybe a half-dozen times a year, so when you see a forecast such as this, you go!
|Windgram for Bridal for August 5. Notice the NE wind up high, conducive to Cheam altitudes!|
There was quite the crowd at launch and with the east wind, pretty much everyone was launching from the top launch. Once in the air it was very much east wind, so much so that I went east to find my first thermal...not west like on "regular" days.
The east wind was somewhat significant, so we had to be careful not to get in the lee of the flanks of Cheam. These flanks are usually a washing machine on the best of days, so on a day such as this, even more so. I actually ended up trying 2 times, and going out towards the highway, before I found a thermal strong enough to get me high enough to get around the SW flanks of Cheam with little drama.
|Looking at the NE face of Cheam, we often don't get to thermal up that side very often!|
Once over on the north side, things started looking up. It was almost ridge soarable on the north side and I was able to smoothly climb up on the pyramid, which is usually in the lee of the typical inflow SW wind, and not a good place to be on regular days. But today was not a regular day! We were all getting up on the N and NE side of Cheam, it was smooth thermals, and clouds were forming at 2200+m!
Paddy, Alex, and I climbed up on the NE side and over the summit where there were many hikers waving and taking photos. Soon thereafter a half dozen additional pilots thermalled up, and we had quite the crowd in the air over the summit of Cheam in the smooth air. It was 6pm and the hiking crowd still had a 2-3-hour hike/drive down ahead of them before dark, while we could be on the ground and next to our cars in under 30 minutes if we wanted! But we didn't want to...it was too awesome to want to leave so early.
But I don't think anybody had dressed for freezing temperatures...it was something like 5ºC at cloud base, and we were dressed for 25ºC. Lots of comments about freezing hands etc so it was time to land and talk about how awesome it was to thermal up the NE side of Cheam. Rare to get an over-Cheam day, even rarer to do it on the NE side!