High Hopes in the French Alps

X-Alps – It’s All Over!

So I started this blog post, way back… saved it in ‘drafts’, and only now have just found it again… thought I’d post it anyway!

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Final day of the X-Alps, and honestly! I’m glad to get my life back!!!

It’s incredible just how roped in one gets, into this race with all the ups and downs, together with all the added emotional turmoil and whatnot! And I’m just watching! – Competition is a funny animal…

My personal take on it, is that where there are winners there are always losers, and this year has been one of great winners and sad losers. Even though, consolation in having participated soothes somewhat, it is a bit of a Jobs comforter, in light of all the preparation, hard work, and commitment, so after all has been spent and not having made the ‘life-raft’, can only be one of the biggest disappointments any of the participants would have to shoulder, considering just how close, and yet how far the ‘result’ was.

It all seemingly boils down to how well knowing and reading the mountains, the climate and  micro climates that are formed and found in and around the heights and the depths that make up the Alps, their subtle and distinct differences, that, and the affinity one has with this fast-moving land and cloudscape, to assess the precision timing required for one’s progress, picking and choosing the most progressive, productive and direct line through an intricate combination of multiple options, and considerations, whilst avoiding potential cul-de-sacs, is a highly acquired skill, taught by the mountains and valleys themselves, (that, endless map scrutiny and reading some really good books etc.)

The X-Alps, is seemingly so much more than a race…

Only gripe, was that Red Bull could have perhaps kept their finger on the pulse a little more with the ‘live-tracking’, and perhaps made more of an effort for mainstream tv coverage…. but will that ever happen? Probably not, the public seem to prefer the game show, where one million pounds can be won, by joe public, performing daring feats, like walking a rope ladder across a river tied to a safety harness!

Anyway, here is a link to the final results of the athletes…

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Team GBR at Plaine Joux

Dennis and Steve, meeting up in the very place where Steve had his very first mountain flights!

Dennis and Steve, meeting up in the very place where Steve had his very first mountain flights!

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of catching up with team GBR on their flight over from Chamonix, as they landed here at Plaine Joux. It was great to catch up with both Steve Nash, and Richard Bungay, en route to Monaco. Couldn’t believe how amazingly ‘light’ and ‘flimsy’ Steve’s harness was! there was barely nothing to it!!!

They both were taking shade under the trees to the side of launch here, waiting for the thermals to kick off, which is usually around 1pm, which they were both fully aware of… taking off earlier would have made it much more difficult to climb out, although both a GTO, took off and managed to scrape out, Dennis took off, and did quite well, and I took off, maintained for a while ended up with my helmet varios’ sticky coming undone, (because of the heat!) so the thing was dangling about causing me unwanted distraction, so although I managed to squeak a climb, went to land, where Shirley was waiting with Sparky, and the Nova, X-Alps support vehicle. It was nice to have some friendly banter, whilst waiting and watching both Steve and Richard, take off and scrape around Varan launch area, before climbing out and heading off over to the Aravis, and on to Turnpoint 9, at Annecy.

2015-07-16 14.33.06

Team GBR scraping out over Varan launch…

That was yesterday, and Steve had a great flight and made it to Annecy which was his intention, but he did then manage to exceed that goal, and continue on further along the course.

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

H-Uber Varan!!

Don’t think need to keep anyone posted as to what’s happening on the X-Alps, but here’s a pic of Huber – just having climbed above Varan, en route to the Aravis…

Unfortunately, we missed Guschlbauer, as we were not able to watch the ‘Live Tracking’ at launch… he would have flown right above us… shame… Great that he is in hot pursuit of Maurer though, I think this is the closest running X-Alps ever!

Huber High Over Varan

Huber High Over Varan

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Spot the Cr-eagle!

Watching the X-Alps live tracking, I was waiting to catch a glimpse of Maurer as he flew towards the Aravis… it was fantastic! Simply knowing what has been happening over the last week, and catching a glimpse of the action was just incredible.

Although, my camera has no great zoom lens capability, I think it just about caught him…

Click on the picture to enlarge…

zoom in to catch a glimpse

zoom in to catch a glimpse

Spot Chrigel en route to the Aravis..

Spot Chrigel en route to the Aravis..

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

X-Alps! 2015

The X-Alps, is well underway, and has been for the last week! The most spectacular, and testing, race on the planet, (excluding perhaps some other marathonic (if that is a word?!) races that are set in deserts, or such-like, not sure, but as far as I know, this is the best! and no other competition comes close…

We have been glued to our screens, as and when we can, between clients and flying, and are perhaps hoping to catch Maurer, as he heads over our way! We’ll be keeping a look out!

Meanwhile, yesterday we were in Annecy, with a small group of pilots who enjoyed some good flying, and I caught this pic of the X-alps, Turnpoint, sign-in board, awaiting it’s first signature..

X-Alps Board awaiting first signature! Perhaps today!

X-Alps Board awaiting first signature! Perhaps today!

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Kuik II, Carerras and Cut Short Entertainment!

We’ve had a few days off, and not before time! – We haven’t stopped since March, so it has been a very welcome few days! We were hoping to go somewhere, but just recuperating after the winter driving season, then switching straight into para-instructing/teaching, has been continuous.

Dennis is now in the midst of trying out the Kortel Kuik II harness, (pod version) which he seems to be enjoying. It is certainly, a far-cry from the heavy but comfortable ‘armchair’ design of the KS, that we have both flown for years, but the much lighter material, boosted by the excellently positioned integral flight deck, is causing me much covetousness!

He has also, upgraded his Carerra to a Carrera Plus with the line and riser change, he seems to be enjoying the difference, although he does like to try many configurations i.e. harnesses, weight etc. but thus far, he’s very pleased with the upgrade.  He flew my ‘unaltered’ Carerra, for comparison, and I don’t think my Carerra is a threat in any way to the new version! As mine is the XS, it is taking longer for the revised and new line set to be produced, as with all ‘smaller’ versions it’s a waiting game, meanwhile here’s hoping we can get some of our own flying in over the next couple of days, as it is difficult to squeeze a reasonable flight in sometimes.

We were unfortunate with the foehn wind having arrived to mess it all up! Today was taken up with other things that get neglected, and we had threatening skies around 15:00hrs.

Here are a couple of pics of one of the locals, ‘thinking’ about it?! Then deciding better of it… there were a couple of dust devils thrown into the mix, just to add to it…. he did say he’d reimburse us all as the entertainment was cut short!

really neat!

really neat!

it aint gonna happen!

it aint gonna happen

very skilled wall building  considering the crazy wind!

very skilled wall building
considering the crazy wind!



June 1, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Flying Again!

The Unmissable BGD – Adam

So we’ve been in a bit of hibernation over winter, except when we were out skiing… But all that is pretty much over now… Which means…? Yes, the flying season is yet again upon us! Okay, so it’s been here for a while now, and there have been some excellent flights already achieved in and around the area, some great flights out of Chamonix, and the area.

So we’ve had a number of ‘beginner’ clients that have already ‘passed’ through our doors, and are on their way to becoming pilots, and now we are working with an American, called Carter! great name, wasn’t there a film named after him?

Hopefully, he will get his maiden flight tomorrow morning, it was just a tad too thermic for his first flight this morning, as the cloud was clinging to launch, for most of the morning, and when it cleared, it brought with it strongish thermic activity, so hopefully we won’t be delayed with the cloud cling, tomorrow.

Recently, we had the pleasure of the company of Bruce Goldsmith, who stayed with us en route, through the region, where Dennis managed to have a fly on his ‘Beginner’ A classified – Adam, glider, (very bright!), and the ‘B’ Classified – Wasp, which he flew this morning, I can’t comment on the handling or performance, but Dennis may, do a write up at some time.

The Hovering BGD - Wasp!

The Hovering BGD – Wasp!

So we had the usual fun and games with one of the students, in the tree (not ours, I hasten to add!). So yep, the season, is pretty much getting going, hopefully, I’ll get a chance to fly tomorrow… Haven’t quite got my teeth into it yet!

Yep. it's the new season alright!

Yep. it’s the new season alright!

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Snow Wonder, it’s Only January!

13th January 2015 – slopes almost bare!

Haven’t had much to report of late, reason… No snow, or not enough decent stuff to enjoy skiing on, and too strong wind, to get the gliders out the bags! Having said that, I did have a birthday… on the 13th. Weird weather for the 13th January, have to say, as it was like an early spring day down valley, as the snow that we did have, had all but melted. The temperatures were far too warm to consider it one of those typical winter days! Certainly, a first for me this time of year.  So the entertainment was pretty sparse to say the least.  In the end, short of a trip to the bowling alley, we had a pleasant stroll ’round the lake, and an enjoyable meal out!

We have been occupied on the road, and bar the one day of crazy snow fall, that made the news, and had us caught out, everything has returned to relative normality! We managed a lovely day winter flying, in Les Houches, from both launch sites, and a flight from Plan Praz. Lovely silky smooth winter air, cold but oh, so bathing! for want of a better word!

We did some skiing, but the snow was packed, icy, fake or artificial should I say, and not very pleasant, decided to wait for more snow before heading for the slopes again. Which, amazingly enough has arrived, and that today, and it’s still arriving…. 🙂

snow is here, and still arriving, and not too soon either!

snow is here, and still arriving, and not too soon either!



January 17, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment


Higgs Boson Monument

We’re having a little bit of time off at the moment, so the other day we ventured off to CERN in Geneva, and did the ‘tour’.  As it was out of season unfortunately, one of the areas was closed, as well as another of the museums. Not expecting too many people in the group, we were surprised to find that there were actually quite a few!

Very well presented, by the corduroy clad white haired typical, professor type of elderly knowledgeable gentleman. We were shown some impressive film, and old footage of CERNS beginnings, and saw the first HC in it’s original position. Thereafter, we walked to the the major ‘Giant’ ATLAS area where the main LHC is located. It was all very interesting, and I admit, I have wanted to visit CERN for ages, and have finally had some of my curiosity satisfied.  Even, though this most certainly is a feat of engineering, it seems to me, that within the descriptions of the ‘experiments’ and the ‘stepping out of the bounds’ of general ‘physics’ if I may put it like that, and taking the blind leap into the depths of Quantum physics, sounds to me ‘other dimensional’ however far fetched that may be interpreted, I do have my reasons!

After the ‘tour’ we ventured into the Globe of Science and Innovation where there was much more finger touch information on offer, within a ‘particle’ futuristic environment, where another short presentation commenced. All in all, very interesting to say the least….

Giant Atlas (of science) Control Room


Globe of Science and Innovation



The Universe of Particles

There are a lot more impressive photos on the internet, unfortunately my photographic skills are somewhat limited!

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

Season’s Changing

It’s been a while since posting, we’ve been busy with flying clients quite late into the autumn, and are still occupied! Amazingly, the weather for early and late autumn has been phenomenal, in fact, it’s been more like late summer, and has only just changed. We’ve had some nice flying, and are still not quite done yet…

The snow has made an appearance, although probably will not stay for long, it’s a bit too warm still, and as the flying season, winds down somewhat, thoughts are turning towards skiing, and winter! We are in the middle of some grey weather at the moment, but by the weekend, it looks possible that we may well be flying again!

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment