High Hopes in the French Alps

High Hike to Cloudbase

It’s been a while since my last blog so a bit of updating.

Well first off, I’m so happy to report that my camera and radio have been found and returned! when I thought they’d gone for good… so normal services will hopefully be resumed. One of Roland’s students found them… they were returned on Tuesday, and I’m extremely thankful.

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The weather has been worsenening with stronger winds and risks of storms so the flying has been limited in this area, just early morning windows, which is probably the way it will continue for the next few days, flyable in the morning although with possible rapid deterioration later.  However,  further south they have, and still are enjoying some flyable conditions. Not much in the way of distances have been achieved this week.

On Thursday, we took a walk up to  Tête de la Sallaz, to have a look at the launch area… it was a much further walk than we anticipated. We knew the weather was forecast to rain later and although we did get snowed on at cloudbase, and later rained on… it wasn’t too bad we managed to get back in time to miss the deluge!!

..."if we're going to be trudging through snow, I'm just not interested!"

What we planned was a forty minute walk up to the chalets, we didn’t intend to walk the whole way up to 2026 meters a climb of 700 meters, from our start point,  turned out to be a four hour walk to the top and back down again… it was funny though… Dennis said… “if we’re going to be trudging through snow, I’m just not interested!” meanwhile…   trudging through snow… what a laugh 🙂 !!  Dennis suitably attired in his boy scout shorts, and me in my regular jeans which got muddier the higher we went, eventually looking like festival jeans after a mud bath! was just hilarious! On the way down were members of the ‘Rambling Society!’ all with their weather proofed gore tex clothing! but they were also in shorts, so no one was expecting snow then?!

It was a fun day out, and I’d prepared a couple of my own recipe Popeye Drinks, to keep us pepped up which worked brilliantly.. not even a shred of fatigue set in! The descent was much quicker as one would expect. Unfortunately, due to the cloud coming in, our view was obscured so we didn’t get a good view of the launch area. It certainly is a great place to launch from but access is a bit tough, we could go partway up in the vehicle but the hike from there with full xc glider set up would be a bit excessive for most.

As the weather isn’t too good at the moment, we’ve been looking at some other alternative launch sites which we’d like to try out some time.


April 29, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Fiona Beats Herself!!

Woke up to the forecast grey skies. Wasn’t sure what was going on with the Cat A competition scheduled for Plaine Joux today, but we weren’t going to rush up. We kept having the odd peek over to launch but only saw regular gliders floating around at various times. By early afternoon we discovered that the Competition had been cancelled. It was forecast to possibly storm later and the weather is set to deteriorate further tomorrow.

No flying this weekend then.

Mind you yesterday was a great day for Fiona Macaskill, she had an attempt at breaking her own 25k speed triangle here and it seems she did it by beating her previous record by four minutes! Well done Fiona!!! good for you. Now I’ve got your co-ordinates might have a go myself some time… 🙂

April 23, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment


There have been some incredible flights around here this week… fantastic!

Tom Payne, who is rapidly becoming a feature in these parts bagged another incredible flight of 242.83…. kms!  and I’ve got to say, the Delta is getting some phenomenal results too…On the 17th 207 kms, was flown having taken off just south of Grenoble in a lesser known launch area. With the Southerly influences pilots migrated further south towards Chambrey, Grenoble where the longer flights tended to be achieved, although having said that there were some spectacular ones set ’round here.

We’ve been influenced by Southerlies all this week but exceptionally light so has produced some big distance opportunities and many pilots were making the most of the Easter Holidays!

For me I enjoyed flying with Mathieu and Dennis, finding thermal cores, and I actually outclimbed Mathieu which was amazing, he was on my tail like a spitfire!! Talking to me he was that close! Never known anything like it.. these PWC pilots! Still it was good practice for me to ‘hold my own!’ and I did until I decided to fly away!

The thermals have been challenging , downright rowdy and amazingly smooth at other times, but at least we’ve been flying…

Moving on to other things.. I went and lost my camera! so no photos, after all that effort tying to find one I really liked, went and left it at landing. Anyway, have put notices up everywhere in the hope of some good conscience person returning it, but it’s Easter week and there’s been a lot of visitors in the area, so I’m not holding out much hope. Have decided to leave it for a few more days before re-ordering a new one… it threw me into a mild misery for a couple of days but today was better. That’s why the lack of blogging.

Dennis didn’t fly this morning having other things to do, but it was looking ok, a blue stable looking day but flyable so I went up to launch.  There was foehn  forecast for the valley and I could see the typical foehn clouds pouring over the massif, consequently all the Chamonix pilots (mainly tandems) were at Plaine Joux.

My flight plan was basically to fly home.. depending on the conditions. I took off and it was ‘messy’ to say the least no clouds just a frenzied inversion! I took a boisterous tippy climb out and got enough height to glide home.

The glide home was pleasant and landing outside the front door to Dennis letting me know what was going on with the valley wind, and a welcoming bounding Tizzy was lovely. It was a morning fly and that was good.

Tomorrow, there is a Category A competition scheduled for Plaine Joux, so that’s always good to watch… the weather is set to deteriorate but they’ll probably task around the thunderstorms!!!

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Valley Vol

Jason, heading off into the sun!

We had a free day, so went to have a fly. It was looking interesting from the start with the Megève Balloons already floating over the house. We thought we’d go earlier than usual to be ready at the right time. It was beginning to show promise around midday when other pilots were arriving, and one or two were beginning to climb out.

CEP arrived at launch and asked Dennis to watch a couple of their students take off.. which he did, whilst I was getting kitted up. We both launched around noonish and although the thermals were all broken up, splintered, and hidden in fragments within a temperamental inversion after much perseverence we both got a climb out. I marked the thermal for Dennis which, he took up, and I lost it somewhere… so I flew over towards the shale at Varan, and tried to get out there, still no luck, back to the Butress and hung around for a while, when I spotted a Mantra ahead of me screaming up! I thought… that’s it! so I took it,  to 2200 meters ish, it was the highest I’ve been for a while and although it was a lot of work to start with it was well worth it.

I saw Dennis heading towards Le Quatre Tête, but the cloud was a bit low… and Pointe Percee was in cloud too, so it wasn’t the best. I decided to take my glide towards Combloux and try to get ’round the valley that way, did ok but didn’t make it over the Church… so hooked ’round and tried to climb out but the thermals weren’t having any of it, sink all the way.  Flew over the Lodge, and thought about a nice cup of tea… so that was that! Landed back at home… Dennis meanwhile, managed to get a really low save and almost got round, the bus was in Chedde but the thermal drift was flat and very low as the wind started to strengthen, so it was a Batistock landing for him. Non the less, it was good flying and good to fly the gliders in stronger conditions.

The Delta is a funny wing, in all the strong stuff it felt like I was going to lose it, but nope… not once, maybe the odd flutter but nothing more than that. It’s very eager to launch but obedient when it’s flying. It does what you ask it, and very precisely. I’m really enjoying this glider the more I fly it… as is Dennis.

Dennis got back to Chedde, where he collected the bus, came back to pick me up to collect the other vehicle, at launch. Back up at Plaine Joux we saw Jason flying around some 500 meters above and then gliding off into the sun.. apparently, he landed at Lac Passy in some substantial wind.

It was a good day, all in all.

Just a few more in Daily Pics.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Straight Up!

'Dapper Dan!' - How long do you think this man has been flying?

We went up to Plaine Joux to check out the conditions and see what was happening during a normal busy weekend, I was itching to try out my newly altered harness. was a struggle..

Down at landing it was already strong so didn’t feel in too much of a hurry to go up.

Saw Liddy down at Chedde whilst watching a couple of gliders coming in. We drove up and had a stroll over to take off where it was blowing pretty strong! It was ok, if you like it strong, but sometimes I feel like I’d just prefer not to battle the elements and enjoy my flying. Also, although I wanted to try out my harness I didn’t fancy trying it out if it wasn’t going to work well in these strong conditions, I’d rather something a tad more controllable for a try out.

Max Jeanpierre was on his way to launch, and he said “You not fly?!” to which I replied “Maybe later, and that I’d got my harness, thanks!” quick work… they know you want your harness done, yesterday!

We watched a few launch attempts which were a bit ropey to say the least, and it was all getting a bit rough.. as it does at times, even Max had a unanticipated launch!

Liddy, and a few others arrived, and took off and were hoiked straight up to the top floor without even pressing a button! They were all gale hanging. There were a couple of pilots top landed both flying the new Gin Evo Sprint, with the new Gin Genie race harness.. it looked really n.i.c.e… good cut and smooth. The gliders looked great too and flew really well considering the conditions, good cut for an EN – B, gliders just keep getting better.

Whilst we were there it was nice to see the friendly faces of Jason, Tracie and Natasha reappear who are here for Easter. We chatted about skiing and I’ve finally accepted the fact that the ski season is well and truly over and we’ve now hung up our ski boots. The avalanche risks and cravasses are just to dangerous with the temperatures so that’s it for another season. Still I’ve got my little ski video to work on sometime.

Jason had a fly on his Ultralight, bedecked in his glorious flying suit! and Natasha is looking forward to learning to fly, although she’s not quite old enough, she’s ground handling whenever possible. Maybe next year?!

We waited for a while then chose to leave it… considering the transport issues for a not particularly brilliant flight.

It turns out an early start from a higher point was the order of the day, as Tom Payne got the furthest distance on the French League clocking 198.66 kms! Those R10.2 have got some glide! There were quite a number of other high kilometer flights from the area… including one on a Delta of 108 kms! so it’s all been happening here.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Windy for Some… Harnessed for Others

John had called to arrange a day to fly in Chamonix, as that’s where he’ll be mostly flying. I really wanted to go to Chamonix  but didn’t have a harness as it was in Sallanches, Kortel factory having some adjustments made.

it's that familiar white Omega 8 again... (top left if you look closely)

Fluid Flag

It was looking like it might be quite good but I was going to miss it… needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too happy, but was more concerned with getting my harness sorted out, instead of trying to take off in what felt like a really narrow pencil skirt!

Anyway, there was going to be no flying for me today so I may as well get on with other stuff, that always needs doing.

Late morning, I checked my phone which displayed a ‘missed call’ from Dennis, so gave him a call to see how things were going. As it turned out it was ‘all over the place’ in Chamonix and no good at all for low airtime pilots. It turned out that Hervé another instructor decided to move his students to Plaine Joux as it was much to unpredictable in Chamonix.  As it turns out, I didn’t miss much and according to the French Distance league there wern’t any big flights in this area logged. However, further south in the Rhone valley it looked great!

Dennis spent the day working with John in Plaine Joux and doing some ground handling down at Batistock meanwhile I had a call from Loic at Kortel early afternoon, to say that my harness was ready, so I drove down to collect it… lovely job, as usual. Can’t wait to try it now..

Down in the lower valley the wind was piping through Sallanches with some gusto the flags looked fluid. On the way back I caught a glimpse of that ever so familiar white Omega 8 belonging to Mathieu!

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Flying, Tuition | Leave a comment

..more time please…?

Dennis.. after his return from crossing the valley..

So today… would have been great if we hadn’t been restricted to one hours flying! As it’s Monday, we couldn’t be sure of a lift up to launch and both wanted to fly. Dennis had his last Transfer today, which meant that we’d take two vehicles out but had to land within time to pack up and be back up at launch for the other vehicle for Dennis to be on the road in time for the Transfer from Megève.

The air felt good, quite a bit of activity, but with interesting kalidescopical thermic patterns… multi faceted thermals which I would have so enjoyed exploring further. Dennis took an immediate climb out, whereas I, on the other hand had further problems with getting into my harness so lost my flow in my first thermal… forced to fly away, sort the blinking thing out and then go back and try to find it again. I absolutely hate that, I hate interruptions!!!!

We haven’t had many ‘free’ full days and to lose a couple of thermals due to blasted interruptions… is enough!

Well managed to make the most of the time, climb efficiently and do what I could, flew big ears and speed bar.. and have got to say the Delta is so…. clean!! ahh…

Took a good in flight pic of Dennis. It was quite bouyant in the valley.

The next three days are not looking the best for flying, the snow line looks like it may be descending again just when we were thinking about hanging up our ski boots for the season, but who knows there may yet be a minimal chance of skiing the Valley Blanche yet…

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Back Tracking

Missed some update’s…

So here’s a quick run down on those few days..

April 8th

We went up to launch it was blowing furiously enough for us to leave it for a better day. We saw Gavin and Rory on the way up, they flew and we were later given the low down on the ‘Idiot Lift’ conditions, the word was ‘Atomic!’ apparently someone was in the trees in front of Varan… why am I not surprised….?!

April 9th

On the way upto launch we gave Benni a lift up. She’s just come back from the UK, and said that she was annoyed at the fact that she was refused the licence to fly at one of the UK southern sites! For a single days flying!! That’s not very good for French-English relations is it??!!! Anyway, she was so astounded that so many Brits fly in France without any problems whatsoever, and she was refused. She is a Competition Pilot, and am sure her qualification out classes many of the CP’s on the hill…! She has said that she intends to take it further. We’ll see what happens.

Dennis got to fly the Sigma 8. We flew together and I have to say it does look very sleek, a fine looking glider with a sharp cut… I can’t comment on it as I haven’t flown one, but Dennis’s response was that it was a ‘very nice glider’ anything more than that and he’ll have to fill you in. Meanwhile, I just enjoyed my glider, getting a patient climb out from a gentle beginning, all very pleasureable. I felt like I was tuning in to the Delta’s dynamism a little more today…

April 10th

Decided I’d really like to get out today, it was looking good and in hindsight I should’ve gone to Chamonix. As it turned out I went to the local site, and needed to get a lift up to launch as Dennis wasn’t going to be back until late to pick me up so I wanted to leave the vehicle at landing. After a long and tedious wait I finally got a lift up with Bertrand. Still it was a nice flight, can’t complain! Needless to say, Chamonix was the place to be. Tom Payne flew a 76.94 kms triangle…

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Work and Play

The Path to En"light"enment!

A partial working day today, as we had John with us this morning. It turned out to be a beautiful day.


I didn’t realise we were going to be working, but John requested some reinforcement of what he’d already learnt after quite a long break through the winter. He didn’t need much to get back up and running but flying was delayed a little for us. The usual suspects turned up today, as Chamonix wasn’t the best place to be it seemed, although some people flew over. Gavin, Willie, Laurence and JC were all here today.  After assisting  John with his launch,  and on the drive down I saw Mick and Marian driving up,  Mick was going to get to air his new glider for the first time… it was looking good.

It’s lovely to have Alex and Natalie with us again, and Alex was also flying his newly acquired wing. It was a slow start and after thinking that I hadn’t got enough clothing with me discovered that I’d got far too much stuff, in the shape of extra fleeces, a couple of pairs of gloves, jackets, I thought there’s no way I’m going to stuff all this lot in my harness! Silly girl… anyway, I had no choice Dennis had driven back home to drop Tizzy off, as it was just getting to hot for her, and I wanted to fly.

Anyway, I took off but with so much stuff in the back my feet were pointed skyward! not the best position…..  so had a fly around and landed, the air did feel good and it was all just ‘starting’.  Most of the others who had taken off earlier had landed not having managed a climb out.  It would have been easy to stay up this time but I just wasn’t comfortable so decided to take another ride back up to launch after dumping half my extra wardrobe in the van.

When I landed, I was expecting to assist John again, but he’d decided to go home as he wasn’t feeling great, and also had to pick his children up from school, so this time we would all fly.

I saw Gavin and JC scraping a climb out over the Lac Vert area whilst others were managing to climb out in front of launch (er herm!) and closer in. Dennis, Alex and me took off at more or less the same time, Mick was already climbing out above launch and it was looking good! I launched and got an instant climb out, but was struggling to get into my harness having got the speedbar wrapped around the footplate so was dangling out of my harness for the first thermal until I’d got to a reasonable height to faff about trying to get into the pod… which I did eventually. So there’s another job needs doing! Dennis climbed out towards the back wall and Col d’Antern where I climbed up back over towards Lac Vert and then the back wall.. then I barred over to the Butress where it was nice climbing again up to Varan, and across to Tête Noir… a nice flight, but wished I’d made a bit more of it. Just don’t know when it’s going to be that good again….?

Coming into land, there was a earthstuck thermal just breaking off near the landing field which I couldn’t resist and took partway back up but I also got distracted with thinking about having to get the bus back, and Dennis had arranged to try the new Sigma 8, from Gavin, which Willie had been test flying earlier today and I could see that they had landed, so if I landed I’d be able to get a lift back up to launch to collect the bus and also check the arrangements for Dennis to fly the Sigma 8, unfortuantely for me I’m too much of a lightweight for this size as much as I’d love to try it.

Anyway, I cadged a lift up with Laurence and I had to call Dennis in to land to watch my glider and borrow the Sigma 8. So it all worked out well.. Mick had a much better flight, Alex got a good flight in and everyone was happy!

It turned out a lovely day’s flying, more of the same please….

Hopefully tomorrow, Dennis will get to fly the S8…

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Flying | Leave a comment

Taking Tea in the Garden..

Mick's New Wing!

It was another flyable day, but we had arranged to have lunch with a couple of our friends Mick and Marian who live just beneath Agy take off. The sky was whiting out, there were no decent cumulus forming and it was incredibly hot.

couple of gliders flying over the house en route to Chevron

Marian made a delicious curry with all the trimmings and a lovely light dessert, later followed by afternoon tea, all very civilised!

I have a very soft spot for ‘Agy’ it was the first place I’d ever flown alone, when I was accompanied by a beautiful bird of prey, but what was so incredible was this bird flew with me, swapping wing tips, then flying above and slightly in front… it was amazing. There was quite a large cell growing somewhat rapidly to the North West, so I decided I’d better land… but this bird not only flew with me, he landed with me too…!! He landed on a post just next to me, ruffled his wings a bit and stamped his feet… Apparently, this is very rare! A lovely memory of Agy…, it’s also a very popular Acro practice area.

Whilst we were enjoying tea in the ‘summer’ warmth of the garden a couple of gliders flew overhead across to the Chevron, they didn’t climb at all, it was a bit of a plummet, but a flight for them non the less. They didn’t quite make it and landed in the bottom landing field.

Mick has taken possession of a new glider the latest Gradient XC3, it does look nice, lovely colours! He hasn’t had a chance to fly it yet, so the plan is for us all to fly Plaine Joux tomorrow, we have a couple of other pilots joining us so hopefully it’ll be a good day. The weather is forecast to be flyable, not sure about the depth of inversion or wind direction yet, will get a better picture in the morning.

April 6, 2011 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment