Alex and I embarked on a short road trip and with the RASP showing light SW winds and it being the height of summer (so less snow up high) we decided to do a Copper Mound overnight vol-bivy.
But it's a short flight to the vol-bivy site, so you don't actually want to fly there too early. Earlier in the day it'll still be nuking and very difficult to top-land. So instead a bunch of us decided to head towards Whistler. However the south wind was a bit stronger that anticipated, getting up on Signal Hill was slow with the climbs hard to find, and once up at cloudbase around 2950m, flying south over Rutherford River was also slow.
|MacKenzie RASP for Aug 3. Unstable and high!
Those ahead of me reported strong south winds so were turning back, so I did so as well, enjoying the snowfields on top of Ipsoot and flying the Miller side to Camel Hump, where I jumped the valley over to the MacKenzie side and climbed up to Copper.
It was still pumping there and Paddy had managed to topland but I opted to land in the amphitheatre down below. Even getting down there was a struggle and was definitely advanced-level active piloting, as it was strong enough to be ridge-soarable on the small ridge leading to the lake, and if you allowed yourself to get blown back, you would be in the rotor and dragged into the sharp rocks and water...and to actually get down required lots of wingovers and keeping the glider open as the gusts came through.
|At the Rutherford valley looking west. Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.
Eventually though I got down followed by a handful of other pilots who were also planning to vol-bivy. And once up at the camping spot (where Paddy had landed) it was indeed too strong to safely land, it was only 4:45pm and we were expecting things to stay strong until at least 6 or 7pm.
|Flapping it in to the amphitheatre below the vol bivy site at Copper Mound. Photo courtesy of Alex Raymont.
It was a beautiful sunset (as usual!) and the mosquitos were actually not that bad for early August. Had an awesome sleep in the alpine and discovered grizzly bear tracks the following morning at the amphitheatre lake, fortunately they don't usually appear at the vol bivy site and prefer to stay lower down in the subalpine where there is more greenery.
|Sunset at Copper Mound, closing in on 9pm!
It was a slow start to the day as the SW wind was taking its time arriving, and we didn't launch until just after 12pm (usually we would launch anytime after 9am)! But once in the air we were able to stay up on the south sides of the various ridges, and leapfrog our way to Mt. Barbour and cloudbase at 3100m.
|Hurley Pass RASP (closest to Copper) for August 4. Another light wind day!
Alex was ahead of me and had crossed to the Miller side, and was reporting that is was not working very well over there; I was partway across myself when I heard, so decided to turn around and continue on the MacKenzie side. That early in the day, the only spot really working would be around Owl Peak, and after searching for a few passes I was able to get up high enough to make the glider to the LZ and the car.
Other pilots who came after me did get up on the Miller side and continued to Whistler, so it turned into quite a good day for them. I wasn't really bummed however as I was quite hungry after spending the morning on Copper, so was happy to go for a swim, eat, repack my vol-bivy gear, and relax in the shade in the LZ. A nice chill way to end an alpine sky-camping adventure!
|Evening soaring session at Copper Mound and the vol bivy site.