Reports, not necessarily epic, but good enough to look forward to again.
Mt. Hood hike and fly. October 22, 2013
Mt. Hood looked good on Monday as I was driving back on Hwy 26 from a weekend of teaching at Kiwanda. It was covered in snow from an early October snowstorm that I knew had dumped 3-4 feet all over the mountain. A couple weeks of melt/freeze should have most of it firmly adhering to the crumbly volcanic rock. Perhaps even forming a nice path up the Hogsback and through the pearly gates to the summit via the standard south side route? A quick call to past student Hunter and current student Jay netted me 2 willing partners (thanks guys!) who would meet me at the White River Snow Park at midnight. We woke up at 4:30 and hoped for a late morning summit bid. I packed my tandem for Jay and I and Hunter took his solo wing and reversible harness. The mandatory gear we all carried included crampons, ice axes, helmets, radios, sunglasses, a SPOT, a GPS and 12 Taco Bell soft tacos and burritos. After driving up to Timberline lodge we hit the trail a few minutes before sunrise at 6:45. It was a late start but we remained hopeful that we would be able to climb high (summit?) and be launching a southerly aspect by noon.
After ascending a thousand feet or so a look at conditions on the upper mountain south crater quickly showed us that a summit bid up the south side was not likely. It was too exposed and free of snow and ice which usually holds down the crumbling rocks above the Hogsback Additionally, a stiff east breeze and a change of forecast winds to NE (as opposed to SE which had piqued my interest in making the hike and fly initially) made us decide to traverse east down and across the middle White River glacier. This proved to be slightly technical and very time consuming. It also proved to be a vitally good call for both climbing and flying considerations. We hiked, we talked, we marveled in the beautiful sunrise and views of Mt. Jefferson and 3 Sisters to the south. We plunge stepped down a steep slope to the bottom of White River canyon. We skittered over icy seracs and small cracks, interspersed with sections of muddy, rocky glacial till.
A steep gully/slope ascended the far end of the White River canyon. Due to the late start and sunny day we were dodging a few falling rocks here. Above this we traversed up above Mt. Hood Meadows and climbed to our personal summit at the top of the Steel Cliffs. 8:15 total hiking time. We celebrated by sharing the final Taco Bell entree which was a bean burrito. After descending to a safe location to launch we each had nice forward launches into light winds. Both Hunter and I felt some light lift but the winds were beginning to die and alas, the mountain was not soarable. Our dream of flying up to the true summit for a view from the tippy top was not to be. I did get a bit of a glimpse of the dramatic north face and Cooper Spur route which definitely has me thinking about a return trip this winter! Our 20 minute extended sledder cut some serious time and exertion off the return trip to the car we left at White River Snow Park.
Reflections: This was my 2nd time flying off the upper mountain and although we managed to easily launch it could have been unlaunchable and instead of arriving back at the car at 4pm we might have limped in at 9pm, very exhausted. Or worse, we could have found descending the steep, sloppy slopes too dangerous and been stuck even longer or risked falling on steep terrain. The first time I flew Mt Hood, Tyler and I needed 4-5 exhausting launch attempts each and *just* barely managed to get flights down to Timberline Lodge after the winds turned NW on the upper mountain. On this recent trip we definitely needed the crampons and ice axes. I was able to draw on my climbing and guiding experience to help our group negotiate the glacier, rockfall hazard and steep upper slopes. But the effort was worth it and the danger not too bad, especially since we were able to fly down. Depending on the conditions, Mt. Hood is a serious climb and not to be taken lightly. The flying was straightforward, but it could have been challenging if the winds had been different or changed unexpectedly on us. All-in-all an unforgettable day out.
Flight 4: Sugar Leonardo Link Eric Miller
We arrived at launch a bit late (noon) and the cycles were already strong. By the time I was ready they were nuking. As I was clipping in, John S’s kids approached me, and as much as I like kids, clipping in is not the time to talk to them. They noticed my lack of enthusiasm, but went ahead unheeded and said, “check this out!” In their hands was a very large arrowhead, more like a spearhead or a flint, broken cleanly in two.
Pleasantly surprised I asked if I could hold it and they obliged. I felt the power of it, of the people who made it and lived in the area long before, their strength in surviving off the land, said a short prayer of thanks and gave it back. Then I went over to launch. Gabe was there and took off in a ‘got plucked’ style, spinning half way to right, half way to left, being blow back in the thermal, but all the time actively flying his wing like a pro and making it out okay. He calmly reported on the radio “well, that didn’t go quite as planned”… needless to say the rest of us weren’t in a big hurry to launch so we sat around waiting for a lull.
I wasn’t even sure if I was going to fly but the lulls came, cross as they were, and the hang pilots started lining up, so it was a now or never situation and I stepped up. Of course it started nuking again and I had to wait it out a minute but soon it backed off and several eager souls let me know it was good, which it was, and I launched. The bowl out front of Sugar scares me so I went right, rode the ridge to where I had seen others climb out, and climbed out in my first thermal. Luck number one. I made the crossing easily but didn’t find anything great on the other side for a minute, and then I did. Up again I carried on, but ahead I could see others struggling in the front range, and also the NO LZ field with the red barn, and so I stuck with a light drifter and drifted into no man’s land, hoping to connect with something or at least drift to the next mountain where i could pop out front and land in a legit LZ if need be. In the vicinity of Crane Mountain, I was tempted to dive in deep, as I’m sure there were good and bigger thermals coming off the bigger mountains, but with no LZs what-so-ever back there, I stayed where I was… getting low I pushed out front and found another drifter that took me towards a nice large ridge but still no landing options, so when I lost it, I pushed out front again.
Crossing Crane Creek I made my ballsiest move of the flight, abandoning the LZ option and just went for the thermal. I found myself on a ridge with a small canyon and another ridge separating me from a decent landing. I saw a bird, headed toward it and caught a rowdy little monster that saved me. Luck number two. I pushed out front again, got to ridge level again and found a magic thermal. Magic, because as I rose above the ridge, there were two very large bucks standing stoically on the ridge, focused on me. It was so beautiful. Every turn I looked back at them and they followed me up and up with their eyes, never moving an inch. Wow. At this point I realized that the next mountain was Black Cap! I made it! Well, almost. I could either push out front again, or, I could just said fuck it and take the short cut where there was a little mountain that might work, and/or some LZs that looked far enough back not to be too rotory.
The mountain didn’t work but the south side of Black Cap did and soon I was over top, and pretty stoked. Luck number three? I could hear that someone on the radio was specked out over Black Cap but I couldn’t see them and couldn’t find anything worth climbing about so I pushed on and found a mediocre thermal that only took me to about 9500′. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it but I went on glide anyway across Hwy 140 and headed towards the back range that leads to Abert Rim. Abandoning good LZs again, I got to the ridge low but ridges have thermals and so I got up, a little. I couldn’t find much over there ultimately though so I just kept pushing on and in a combination of little bullets and rowdy drifters I made it to the Palisades. Here I thought I was probably done and was looking at the farm just out front for landing options. I found some little stuff that was 200′ up on half the turn and 200′ down on the other, tried to make something out of it but got nowhere. I pushed out front and in a last ditch effort went for some very protruding rocks that just had to be hot. I was about 50 – 100′ above them (can’t judge height that accurately) and there were some bubbles but no fizzy lifting. A voice in my head told me to go to the right, which i did, which was away from the LZ, and low and behold I found the finest thermal in all of kingdom come on dude… okay, but it was pretty badass.
As Forslund pointed out, it was a nice climb and took me from about 6000′ to 13,300′! Pretty much straight up, then drifting towards the rim. As I looked back at the rocks, climbing higher and higher, I could not believe my luck number four. Specked-out-tacular! The view from here is incredible. And, cold! I went on glide and in a very short time found that my hands and feet were going a little numb. I found another climb near Tague’s and got up to 13,700′! I even left the lift for lack of body heat. I looked at my GPS and had gone about 50 miles. There was a sweet cloud street headed out towards Hart Mountain and a bolder more experienced pilot, perhaps with a retrieve driver, might have flown a hundred miles out that direction, but for little cold me, I thought “boy if I can just eek out another 10 miles that will be 100k and that would be sick!” So, I went on glide over the amazing Abert Rim, with beautiful clouds and their reflections over the lake, mountains in every direction, and the smoothest air of the day. What a reward for my earlier efforts.
I easily made the 60-mile mark and once lower pulled out my iphone and took a few pictures. (my GoPro decided it was full even though it wasn’t) I landed on the north side of the electric wires at the north end of Abert and smiled a big smile. Yes! I love my Delta 2! Yes! I packed up and tried to hitch but no one seemed interested in hearing my story. I called Marybeth to see if she knew of anyone coming out to Abert, or if she was by chance coming to pick up Dan who I thought maybe had made it out here but she told me she was taking him up to Black Cap so I knew that option was out. She offered to come get me later but I said I’d try to hitch and if that didn’t work out maybe I’d take her up on her offer. It’s always a relief to know you aren’t going to spend the night out 🙂 Thanks Marybeth! A few more cars went by, uninterested in the Spearhead, the Bucks, the Epic Climb, until I saw what looked like a car with either two surfboards or could it be, hangliders!
It was Ray Berger who had outflown me by 7 miles with Rob the batman and another who’s name I forget. They squeezed me in and the flight was complete. Luck number five. Ray called HQ to put in our flight distances for there was a cumulative miles competition going on for both paragliding and hang gliding. Back at the awards ceremony, Ray won the cumulative in hang gliding and Dan Wells won it in paragliding. I actually flew 110 miles to Dan’s 75 but the scores only count from when you register and I didn’t register until Saturday before my epic flight (for me) of 66 miles. So, Dan won $100 and I got an uncomfortable camping chair but rules are rules and fair is fair. Thanks to Dan and Marybeth for many weather updates, rides, pizza and a fun competition that was more about fun xc than competition 🙂 All you XC pilots who didn’t come should really think about coming next year. Lakeview is an amazing place!
Chehalem Spectacular Matt Henzi
After much goading from Forslund to post a flight report from Pine last week I thought I’d indulge and share today’s flights at Chehalem Ridge. Pine was fun but aside from 3 awesome DAR pilots chasing me on the ground and offering support it was a typical Pine flight: Turn in lift, fly across the desert, repeat. I loved it, and can’t wait to get back and do it again.
Today’s Chehalem flight was rewarding in so many ways. It was a neat experience to see the landscape of PDX from up above. And again I shared my flight with good friends on the ground who encouraged me to keep going. I also got to fly with several glider planes near the Skyport Airport.
I’ve included pictures of the MM5 environmental lapse profile in Aloha for 2pm and 5pm today to show what initially had me thinking that today might be Ok to fly at Chehalem. As you can see the forecast temperature profile at 2pm showed good lift up to about 850mb which corresponds to about 1500 meters height. The temperature and dewpoint lines also met at about this point indicating cloudbase around the top of lift at 1500m. Clouds meant possible increased lift under them but the temperature profile above cloudbase was not too steep so that seemed to indicate that overdevelopment was not likely. The forecast profile for 5pm showed lift to a bit higher – 820mb or about 1800m and a slight kink/inversion of the temp profile above cloudbase/top of lift meant a continuing cap on overdevelopment. There was ever so slightly more spread between dewpoint and temperature profiles which gave me hope that the sun wouldn’t be entirely occluded later in the day.
I e-mailed Dave this morning with the promise of XC potential at Chehalem. His response was classic paraglider crack addict: “I don’t know, I’m busy. Ok, I’ll see you there at noon.”
I talked Nick B into joining us at the last moment, I was hoping that I could get my OG flying buddy some good free flight action as well.
At around 12:50 Dave and I launched into decently strong cycles. After a few minutes of turning about in front of launch hoping for something good we found it and cored together up to about 1400m (4,600′). We glided over the back and north toward Aloha catching one more brief climb near Twin Oaks airport before landing near the Farmington Quarry. Nick had arrived at the Chehalem launch after we launched and he did his flight alone, sorry Nick, I really was hoping to fly with ya! He grabbed Dave’s truck and retrieved us back to launch.
Dave decided his ‘personal errand’ excuse had run it’s course with his boss so he high-tailed it back to work to finish being responsible.
Nick declined another flight opportunity and said he would watch me take a flight but warned that he would have to ditch if I took off XC again. I launched again at about 3:15pm and had a hard time finding a good climb out. Eventually I connected and got to about 1200m before telling Nick I would try to make it to his wife, Dana’s, vineyard/winery. He thought that would be a fun visit so he drove off toward Blizzard Winery while I prepared to dirt behind Chehalem Ridge next to Sholls Ferry Rd. A lucky climb off of the field there took me up and over Dana’s vineyard. She even got on the radio while Nick was there to ask how all her hard work looked from above – it was great to see and the rows and rows of grape trees sure looked fantastic from 3000′.
With Nick advising me I curtailed my northern heading and went west for a while in an effort to avoid Hillsboro airspace. Although I had planned all along to avoid any airspace violations I did not take the time to put the airport waypoints and proximity values into my Garmin 60C (my only flight instrument at the moment). It would have been as simple as adding the Hillsboro airport as a waypoint and giving it a 5 mile (I believe) radius. Instead I had to rely on guesswork, eyeballing the airport and Nick’s keen eye while he looked at the SkyVector map on his I-phone to try and keep me out of violation. As I was heading west around the airport – wouldn’t you know it I found a good climb that was, of course, drifting me north right toward the invisible airspace I was hoping to avoid. Luckily the lift was cloud influenced and much more vertical than every other climb from the day.
I continued my west, then northwest, circumvention of Hillsboro until I saw a glider plane coring up just north of Cornelius. I followed him to an area of wide, but light lift and we shared a couple of thermaling turns together. He was making large (1/4 – 1/2 mile?) circles while I made my little 100-200m cores. Being in the center of the mild thermals meant I could climb above him but as soon as he went on glide he was out of sight. I continued north toward the Skyport Gliderport and soon encountered 3-4 more gliders – all scattered about at different altitudes. At this moment a tug and 5th gilder were taking off from the gliderport. I breathed some av-gas that the tug was belching out and joined a couple of gliders who were banking up in yet another area of wide lift. Again, my smaller circles gave me a climb advantage and a couple of the pilots even got close enough to inspect my weird, flimsy ‘aircraft’. The glider who was on tow had spent his last few minutes on tow going in a large circle around the wide, but gentle thermal we were all in. As he released he turned and dove straight in my direction, at this point still slightly above me. He kept flying right for me and at first I didn’t know what to think: Was he being aggressive since I was in their territory? Did he not see me? As he sliced through the air at around 60mph and only maybe 100 feet below me I saw his passenger madly waiving at me and realized that they were just saying ‘hi’. (Or maybe she was washing the inside of the canopy…?)
Nick was still chasing me and giving me great encouragement throughout the flight.
As I topped out the lift that I shared with the glider planes I was nearing cloudbase and had to induce B3 tip stalls and speed bar to stay out of the whiteroom – I definitely didn’t want to be around glider planes and clouds at the same time. But the gentle cloud suck (idiot lift, as per Forslund) was a nice respite from the desperate thermal hunting earlier in the flight. As I crossed Hwy 26 and neared the west hills I started to get excited. How neat would it be to get over those hills!? My climb to almost 4700′ had me reaching the top of the west hills on glide but not quite clearing them in style. I needed another climb and luckily there seemed to be plenty of yards/farms dotting the west hills ridge so going in deep would not be risky. I flew straight to the largest farm within glide and near the top of the ridge. It didn’t look good but after a couple minutes I again hooked up with a nice climb that took me easily over the top of the ridge and toward Scappoose.
I got a hold of Nick on the radio and he said he would gladly follow me over the hills and encouraged me to continue going even if I wished to cross the Columbia into WA!
I made it to the Scappoose airport where I crossed the airstrip in the middle as Nick has suggested we ‘slow’ glider pilots do if we ever need to cross or land at an airport. I was there at about 1400′ and could have probably gone on a death glide to eke a few more clicks on the odometer but decided to try my luck at catching a hopeful evening thermal off the blacktop and grass of the airport.
It was to no avail and I eventually landed on the access road to the airport. Nick arrived about 3 minutes later and although he was driving we both shared in the joy of working together and completing what is easily my favorite flight of all time.
Dog Mountain, Columbia Gorge, June 23, 2010, Sam Mulder
Go to Leonardo and click on the Terrain button then scroll through the flight on the barograph to get a 2-D visual of flight path and altitude.
It shows pretty clearly what the wind was doing (light wnw about 5-7) by the drift of the thermals. Launching from the main peak was a little cross with some cycles about 90 degrees right. I could see how walking out to the far NW peak would give you cleaner air on a day like this. XC skies was pretty spot on with the forecast as far as potential lift, wind speed, and later cloud cover. All our climbs ended up well short of launch altitude.
I’d like to check the site out again on a day that has a really light southerly influenced western flow as it would seem that you could then track the thermals back up over the peak. Ours were all down low (and fairly weak) and tracking out over the water into the stronger flow compressing off the mountain. Drifting out there a couple of times only got me lots of sink on the glide back.
We both should have set up a little farther west when landing, but found no ratty air on approach, just a bit of a gradient in the last 100 vertical feet that caused us both to land a bit short of our intended spots. Wind on the water was picking up and probably 12-15 when we decided to call it good and head for the LZ. Caps were barely forming here and there, but given the nature of that little section of the gorge to venturi anyway, we called it good and landed to be on the safe side (mostly because of the rather unsavory LZ). Given a wide open beach I would have continued to soar until the river totally filled in.
Saturday, May 9, 2009 Douglas Mullen
Saturday had a great forecast and after much debate, Dan and I headed to Cliffside with Mary-Beth along as a driver. Conditions were established early on; 1 Margueritas for a 25 km retrieve. A price Dan and I were both willing to pay…. if only we could make it happen!
We arrived on launch around 2.00 in light conditions, having wasted time driving up Bingen. Some forecasts called for a west flow, some called for a switch in the afternoon and we needed to get off quickly in a good thermal. Two other pilots – Phil and Mike – were there and I let Mike launch first.
Mike sank like a stone for a minute or so before rocketing up in a thermal. Dan launched and went up as I struggled to get ready. I just got off in the thermal and climbed with Dan to 2,400 ft, drifting back quickly. Thermals always drift back quickly at Cliffside and if you lose one high you have a tricky decision to make – commit to the XC (and risk sinking out after a few minutes) or push back to launch (and risk not even getting back). As we struggled to find the lift, Dan and I made opposite decisions; I headed out as he headed back to launch.
Fortunately I fairly quickly found some lift, took some time to work it out but then climbed out over highway 97 on my way to Centreville. Things were pretty similar to my flight of 9 days earlier, but with almost no base wind. W of Centerville I got under a forming cloud and had my first strong climb of the day and got over 7,000 ft before heading WSW. This time, I managed to slowly climb over Stacker Butte as Mary-Beth and Dan watched from below. Once established over the summit I got my second and last strong climb and rocketed up to 7,500 ft .
Here I had a decision to make – head straight along the ridge to Lyle or cross the river at the Dalles. The ridge was the straight line to Bingen and an obvious thermal trigger. Going to the Dalles was indirect but there was a nice line of little clouds in that direction. I tried the ridge for a bit and didn’t find any lift and didn’t like my glide – the wind was now coming from the W. I wasn’t sure I could reach Doug’s Beach as a bail out, so I headed SW across the river, but got nothing under the clouds and arrived low to the W of the Dalles. I was ready to land there and had picked out my LZ.
As a last chance, I headed over a quarry (thermal source) on a knoll (trigger) at around 150 ft AGL. Nothing – but then some weak lift. There was no wind, nothing to produce turbulence so I decide to give it a try. I turned in wide, careful circles trying to minimize my sink; the lift was weak but consistent and I slowly climbed 3,000ft in 30 minutes. Really I found this low save a little embarrassing, because I would have been happy landing there.
I picked up a couple of new climbs as I headed W, but the wind would push me back E in each climb. Back up at 6,000 ft I could see the LZ in Bingen, it was a reasonable glide, except I was heading into a strengthening W wind. It was nearly 6pm and the climbs were weakening and I had to reject most of them. I headed W, first following the road, then straightlining to Rowena.
Flying a paraglider into the wind in weak lift is an exercise in frustration, but that’s what I had to do to reach Rowena. Carefully monitoring glide and applying speedbar as needed, turning in lift that exceeded 300 ft per min, applying a little brake in weaker lift.
Normally the last glide on an XC is relaxing, but not on this flight. In a W wind I didn’t want to risk landing down by the river (in the lee of the cliffs at Rowena). If I didn’t make Rowena I would have to land on the plateau and I would have had a long walk-out, which wouldn’t please my ankle. Eventually, it was clear I would make Rowena and I could relax for the last few minutes of my flight. I landed near Rowena, exactly where I had sunk out in my flight from Bingen 2 weeks earlier. Even stranger, the same PG pilot was there to meet me – he had been following my flight from the ground from the Dalles!
Dan helped me pack up my wing. He had got back to launch and got higher – up to 3,000ft – but got stuck in sink before he could head off. Disappointing for Dan and it shows how fickle XC flying can be. I was a little lucky on this flight with a couple of low saves. An earlier start would have made all the difference at the end; a weaker W wind and/or stronger climbs would have helped a lot. But (after all the coulda, shoulda stuff) I was absolutely delighted with the result!
Dan, Mary-Beth and I headed to Hood River, where I gladly paid up my Margueritas!
March 29, 2009 Mark Sanzone launches Andersons, lands Sand Lake, Douglas Mullen goes to Tierra Del Mar
My first flight at Andersons was in May 98. If Feb. 04 I made to the end of the cape for the first time, a long time goal for me. In June 06 I had my longest flight ever of 3.5 hours. I have flown over 50 sites and Andersons is probably my favorite.
Sunday evening was my best flight ever here. I was the second PG in the air after Sarge (not counting Douglas’s earlier short flight). The lift was abundant but gradual. After gaining some altitude I crossed over to the cape were I found better lift as expected to due to the northerly winds. I worked up and was the first to cross the big gap although I did not go to the end. Douglas joined me out there and got really high. I was at 2200′ (1750′ is the highest I have ever been there before) and he was a couple hundred higher. He announced he was going to fly to Sand Lake so I said I would follow. He was higher but farther out on the cape when he left. I looked at my elevation and distance to the beach and felt comfortable leaving. There will be turbulence behind the cape so you want to make sure you are high enough to get some good distance before you get down to the elevation of the cape.
Anyway the trip over the water was fast and smooth. I was hitting 38 mph with light brakes plus being light on my wing. I did hit a patch of 600 FPM sink near the beach but got through it. As we flew, Douglas was getting farther ahead and staying higher (must be his faster, newer wing :). He continued south across the river to Tierra del Mar, while I opted to stay over the Sand Lake beach access area. I gradually burned off the last few hundred feet of altitude and landed in the large parking lot/staging area which was almost empty and had a nice sand strip for me to target on. Several of the ATV riders came by to see and ask questions which was nice.
June 25 2008 Steve Forslund describes a flight from the first new site we have had in a long time:
Tuesday I looked at the sky and read Pete’s post, Silver Star looked great but I was tired and not wanting to drive. I was up for flying today the lapse rate looked good for Gales Creek, the NW wind forecast was light and the lack of pressure gradient was making it look doable. I arrived later then planned hiked up with the full kit including 12 pounds of ballast but no camera, big mistake.
I was slow and nervous that I might be late, the hill is steep with the best angle of the sun early in the day. It was cycling up and the clouds were drifting slowly from the WNW as I laid out and tried to launch too close to the edge in the dead zone. Setting up further back I noticed a sailplane coring under a cloud out front, it flew over launch to the big cloud over Gales Peak. I had stopped at the gliderport earlier and asked a couple of pilots to fly over and find me a thermal(karma?). I launched in a cycle that died when my feet left the ground, the wind was 90° cross as I struggled to stay up working light lift going north to the end of the spine and scratched up over the ridge. Behind launch is a giant bowl that ends up at Gales Peak, once over the spine it is coming up both sides and I was climbing quick.
The terrain looked more inviting then I imagined there are a lot of trees but also some bail outs. Hagg lake looked like an easy glide and the scenery was gorgeous as I moved south. At the sawmill below the lake I smelled sawdust working light lift and pushed on south too soon sinking out. At the edge of shade I tried a house surrounded by a dry hay field. The asphalt roof, hay and small ridge worked and I was heading back up. Crossing the next valley I dropped like a stone and pushed on to some cut hayfields on a shallow slope. Working light lift I stayed with my core watching a vulture climb nearby and we soon merged climbing out together heading for the clouds. To the south were small hills, dry fields and clouds above. Some speed bar kept me out of the white room and near the edge as I reached 5,300′. East of Kutch I left one cloud too soon and was working hard trying to get back up with flat ground and more green fields. I left light lift after working hard and gaining little should have stayed and was soon on the ground.
To the south there were few clouds but plenty towards Newberg and Chehalem. Being summer and flying season I am flying with my recording Ancillometer. At Pine it was recording Jiggy, today for most of the flight it was recording pleasant but at one time it actually was in the bucolic zone. That is rare for thermal days! Probably my most enjoyable flight in years, just wish I had brought my camera! Jim Donaldson came out and gave me a ride back. Thanks!
May 1, 2008 at 12:09 AM, Steve Forslund wrote:
Nice flying with Sam today. As we clawed up behind launch someone asked “are you coring sink?” That was good motivation and I followed Sam to the north. At the quarry Sam was climbing up and back while I stayed out front where the clouds were pulling me up. I arrived higher at the hatchery and found a nice climb. Sam was working hard and I wish he would have made it back up. There was a great possibility of flying to Oceanside and I know I could have done better with more patience and better climbing.
I made it past the RV park and was trying to ridge soar to the schooner unfortunately the west wind was following the terrain making it a head wind. I landed at the RV park. We went back and flew some more. Sam left low made it to the clear cut and climbed up to fly with Tingey at the north end. I was feeling stuck but eventually it turned back on and I headed north. I was soaring the shore and getting lift from the mud of low tide. I landed south of the Netarts Tillamook turnoff on the beach and kited my wing to the grass. Link to my second flight and I attached the first flight which had a problem with the IGC signature.
Sollie: Mar 2, 2008, at 5:13 PM, Tobias wrote:
The wind indicator on launch hung sadly toward the LZ, but Tim, already in his flight suit and getting ready for his first flight in quite awhile, said, “It’s just a thermal out in front pulling the flag toward it.” He was, as usual, right. In moments, a light thermal worked its way up the slope, just enough for Tim to pull his glider up and get away from the hill. He began meticulously working some light lift out front of the point, patiently mapping out the sparse lift, turning as flat as he could and, all the while, slowly gaining altitude.
Of course, those on launch began to more seriously contemplate getting airborne, including me. I began getting my gear ready more enthusiastically. Jim Baldo was next off launch and found the slow elevator. I looked up to find Tim at least 1000′ over launch. I got ready a little quicker. I think it was Chester who got off right in front of me and, not to waste the thermal, I pulled up right away and followed him within seconds. I found the elevator just out front near the point and worked it hard until I was about 400′ above launch and a little lee side. I moved further out front and caught another, which took me higher yet, but again a little lee side. The wind was tracking slowly from the SE, which made flying just above the ridge a lot of sense. I continued to gain altitude as I moved along the ridge and then flew NW just in front of Kilchis.
I had no idea where Tim was. James lee was heading back toward Sollie. Ahead of me, aimed toward Bay City, was a red glider (Sam). I headed that way, crossing the Kilchis and slowly losing altitude. I passed the golf course and thought it might be fun to land there. But, I decided to push on and, hopefully, find something to take me back up. A thin cloud layer was shading the ground a little and thermal generation apparently had died down. So, I found a very nicely mowed lawn to land in, which was quite close to HWY 101.
During my little XC, I got to about 3500′ ASL and landed just 2 miles short of Bay City. Sam made it past Bay City and picked me up on his way back. We ran into Tim and his dad Jim and we decided to make an early day of it and head back home. I don’t know if there was more thermaling after we left. Some folks were on their way back up to launch. But I personally had a nice little tune-up flight and reminded myself why I love this thing we do.
Sam Mulder adds:
Earlier, there was a great street of clouds to the north, but by the time I went on glide towards that area things had pretty much smoothed out. I ended up farther north than I ever had before, landing at Hobsonville point, just over a half mile short of Garabaldi. Flight log here: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/30317 It was great to see so many people out today. Big thanks to Kelly for the ride up the hill.
Hardy Ridge: Pete Reagan 3/2/08
So I went east instead. Somebody had to see what was happening that-a-way. The wind was E at about 8 as I went past Washougal. But it was light W by the mid gorge at at Dog Mountain it was honkin’ west. when I saw that I had hope for all you guys at the beach. So I was short of options. I drove back into the light west zone and there was Hardy Ridge, the next one west of Hamilton Mountain. Part of the usual approach is closed so I ended up doing a good solid 6 miles and 2000 feet to get up to the south end of the ridge, the old Terry Taggart launch (I think its total paragliding history is 1 launch by Terry from which he terrified himself by flying to Hood River, and one launch by me with a hop to Hamilton and a glide into North Bonneville.
I wanted to hike up to the top of Hardy Ridge which is not in Beacon Rock State Park, but it was too snowy, and the circuitous route I took to get into there took too much time (and energy) so I just went back up to the south end. At 3PM I was getting 5-7 mph with fairly gentle thermals to 11. The launch is pretty comfortable but all the LZs are behind you and downwind, so you can’t mess around a long time trying to get up. I got two nice little puffs that held me above launch for a little while, but then things got sketchy so I peeled over the back and headed toward Hamilton. I came in below the ridge line of John Benedict’s launch over there and was again able to ride little jets to a couple of hundred over briefly.
The lift was spotty though and the geography over the back side of there pretty savage,and I had a few miles to go before I could land, so I gave up trying to bench up Hamilton, and flew out and landed in the baseball field in N Bonneville. Intriguingly, there is a lot more real estate down there than last time I looked. One old LZ is full of houses and the baseball diamond itself has a lot more fence. Nice afternoon. Not much driving. Lotta exercise and an auld lang syne flight.
June 27, 2000 Jay Carroll has the new highest altitude record for the Gorge at 10,800 ft. He flew 28 miles from Cliffside on Tuesday and landed near Appleton Rd. (I only got to 10,031 ft).
I launched just before Jay and got to 5,000 ft on an APCO Allegra DHV 1-2 and was half way to Hwy 97 and flew back into the valley between Maryhill and Centerville. I worked small dusties and stayed at 5-6000 ft and drifted straight west north of Dalles Mt. I was low and heard Jay say that he was at the Texaco Station and was past 9,000 ft. The heat low was working! I stayed with a weak thermal and took it past 10,000 ft east of the Klickitat River. I went west toward Snowden, which is above White Salmon.
I got low and worked one of the weakest bubbles of lift and stayed with it and got up past 10,000 ft again. I took lots of photos! Jay was still up and raced behind me and got low near Fisher Hill and landed. I was cold and heading for Underwood Mt. I got to the top and worked one small thermal and decided to glide past the top and land in a big field next to Cook-Underwood Rd and Driver Joe Lawry. I flew 43.0 miles for a new Cliffside XC record. It took 3 hours and 10 min. I went back to Bingen and did a tandem with a guy from the Bay area. Just another day in the Gorge. Thanks Driver Joe! Rick Higgins
Prairie is a mid-coast range site. My longest flight from the summit was only six miles, but it crossed a bunch of forest where I did not want to land and I followed the farmland valley to its terminus on a day when the wind was light from the northwest, there was a good lapse rate and I was able to get to 3500′ before heading away from the mountain. At the time we had permission to land in a couple of the fields in the valley, but now it is more limited to what is described in the site guide. The x in the photo below represents where we now have permission to land. The first half of the flight was high, going from 3500′ to about 3000′ as I headed toward the farmland. Over the farmland I began my descent and got to about 500′ above ground level only to discover thermals popping off the grass. I tried to ascend the northern side of Taylor Butte but met with sink in that direction so I stayed over the fields, bobbing along on thermals at 500′ over all the way to the T at the end of the valley, where I picked an empty patch to land in. The folks at the farm welcomed me and I radioed for a ride back. Note: the east launch I used is now overgrown.
I’m very pleased with the way Tuesday turned out. It’s really nice to recognize a good forecast for a site and capitalize on it.
Over the last couple of years I’ve tried really hard to get the most out of Sollie as far as XC goes. With the help of Joe Evans, and watching a lot of other hang dudes, I’ve tried to visualize what kinds of flights are possible for the site with paragliders. What I’ve come up with is that it is really, really difficult to get away from the hill on a para rig. This is even more true given the types of days that we typically fly there. There are a lot of great days that it’s soarable at Sollie and Sugar, but few in a year that we can realistically break free of the hill and get south of the Trask river.
We usually fly Sollie on NW (lee side) days in the spring and fall. First day post frontal is best with a good laps rate, medium-ish pressure (I really don’t watch pressure at all; I should, but I haven’t tracked the numbers at all to make them relevant to me). You can get a good morning and sometimes a good evening flight on high pressure blue sky days, but the vast majority of blue days you’ll be hard pressed to get over launch (with that said, one 100% blue sky day with a good lapse rate I went to 4k+ when everyone else went to Sugar and sunk out….go figure). Typically most high pressure days the sea breeze picks up between 1pm and 3pm and blows all the thermals apart, which can make the flying terrifying.
Sollie can be a very good site on forecasted L&V days, especially those with a southern component. As long as base is high enough (i.e. over the ridge, or at least over launch) the ridge can be just fantastic to soar in ridge lift mixed with thermals. Given a southern component, you can have great flights ranging from Sugar or even a little to the east of that all the way to the Kilchis river and back. It can be easy to roam the ridge back and forth, but given that general wind direction it’s hard to fly xc to the south.
So, that leaves us with Tuesday. If you want to go south, listen to Joe Evans. On his hang, he’s been to Hebo, CLO, Lincoln City, and Kiwanda, all starting from Sollie/Kilchis. He’s told me that L and V days especially with a NE component are the ones to be looking for. The light NE offshore component is really important, because it holds the sea breeze at bay. Even on days with good lapse rates, the sea breeze usually stuffs us paragliders in the venturi around the Trask river on most attempts going south past Fairview. The L&V NE allows you to drift south in the thermals once you get up around base, and it can set up a nice convergence over the valley, sometimes all the way south past pleasant valley towards Hebo.
Why don’t most people look for NE days? Most of the time when it’s NE, the pressure is too high, and it’ll be way strong over the back. The site just doesn’t like NE over 5 mph. You’ll never get cycles coming up the front to counteract that. Tuesday saw light NE, 0-5 aloft at base; around 3500’. On launch we saw 0-2 coming up the front, sometime up to 3mph over the back. Clouds were forming nicely out front, but so nicely that they were shading the slope below launch. There just wasn’t enough solar heating to send any good cycles up the face. I had my Zagi soaring for a few minutes above launch, and we felt a cycle of around 3mph, then nothing for 15-20 minutes. I was pooh-poohed by most of the crowd as I laid my gear out and proceeded to clip in. I really should have launched in the first 1mph cycle I felt, but I was sure that I’d get another 2-3 mph gust front coming through. Not any luck. Another 5 minutes and a light thermal was working out front, but there was zero on launch. I took an aggressive forward and barely made it off the hill as I nearly let the wing surge too far when it came up. Everything towards Sugar, all the way to the river was shaded, so heading that way was not in my game plan. I turned right to the tree line figuring I could bail out down and to the right if things didn’t work out. Nothing was working up on the hill, but the great clouds out front led me there. I found a bunch of zeros and a little light lift and eventually sank to 4-500 over the bailout. Ten minutes of zeros finally turned into 50-100 up and another ten minutes brought me back to launch height. No drift in the thermals finally made the climb easy once I hit the 2-400 FPM. I kept working SW under the cloud and eventually topped out over the Wilson River Loop Bridge at around 3300 ft.
That in itself would have been a very satisfying flight. Could have gone back on glide to the hill, or LZ, or just boated around for a while. I should have been a bit more organized at that point and I might have had a bit more success. At any rate, I had a nice glide out to the Blue Heron, turned left, and flew south down 101 right over the top of Tillamook and expected to land near Les Schwab and the south end of town. I made a critical error when after finding zeros south of Schwab’s I left it to chase after a Seagull. I really should have stuck with the zeros and fought that to the end. There were birds going up all over the valley around me, clouds up above, and I left zeros to find sink. Dammit! I potentially could have gone to base and gotten another 5-6 miles downwind or farther, but instead settled on a short glide down past the Trask and landed at the Airport.
It’s possible to get away from the hill, given a favorable forecast.
I should have had some waypoints setup to the south on my GPS so I’d have some goals to glide to, since I knew I was going to try to go south that day.
I should have used my GPS to find the zeros that I left once I was south of Tillamook. Should have zoomed in on the screen to find the core and work that.
Be patient. It paid off greatly early in the flight. It used to be that I would have given up early and called it a day. Patience made the flight. It seems like that’s going to be the case in most situations when trying to go XC.
Try different things at your sites. Go right when you normally go left.
Use all the good forecasting tools out there to pick days favorable for XC if that’s what you want to do.
Check out the flight here if you want:
There are a couple of mm5 soundings in the photos section of leonardo for the day that show you what I saw when I thought it might be good:
NOAA forecasted 0-5 W switching to 0-5 N and then 0-5 NE which was pretty accurate. A light sea breeze did pick up late in the day 0-5 W on the surface.