High Hopes in the French Alps

End of the Ski Season :(

2016-04-09T12-37-26+02-00Really sad that the ski season, is coming to a rapid close.

We’ve enjoyed some lovely skiing, but not enough for my liking this year… and am already considering ‘bigger’ plans for next season! Can’t wait! – Looking forward to expand my ski repertoire, somewhat so hopefully if all goes to plan a new venture may be in the offing!

Courmeyeur closed yesterday, and everything is gradually on the shut down…

I was quite desperate to get out on the snow yesterday, and we finally decided to venture up to La Balme, as there was at least a 35% chance of some sunshine, after a light overnight snow dusting. The closer we got, the greyer it was, no problem parking! wonder why?! And we were also offered a couple of passes, for next to nothing from some people who were trying to sell theirs!

Deciding, that we’d come this far, we decided to go up anyway, and at least give our skis an all but final run, for the season, and this is what we were greeted with!

Really very depressing… the conditions were as you can see or not!

It was ok-ish, but we only managed one run down in the miserable but ‘laughable’ conditions, which was enough! Bit pathetic really, but it was just bof!


April 10, 2016 Posted by | Day to Day | Leave a comment

What else to do in the Alps in Winter?

Apologies for not blogging for ages… reason; we’ve been otherwise occupied with snowy alpine slopes and planks on feet!

We’ve had some excellent days skiing so far. The season kept coming and going, and never really settled into anything reliable, there’s been lots of heavy wet snow, then some lovely powder, but the snow has never really settled down valley at all so far, so no possibility of skiing back home.

Non-the-less we’ve had some excellent skiing, in Chamonix, St. Gervais, Megeve and Les Contamines. Surprisingly, although it has been the busiest couple of weeks being the main French Ski-Set, vacances we only had a bit of difficulty parking, but timed it perfectly. Just as someone was pulling out, in a prime position next to the lift at Les Contamines, we were on the verge of driving home to go flying instead, but were fortunate in that we parked! after driving ’round in circles for long enough, and then had a stroke of fortune in this space being freed up. So pleased, as we had a lovely time on and off piste skiing. The snow condition was just excellent! Not what we expected, and we didn’t have to wait in queues for the lifts either! We’ve had some beautiful days in the mountains, all blue and white… gorgeous.

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Les Contamines


February 20, 2016 Posted by | Day to Day, Skiing | Leave a comment

Day of Advancement…

The weather has been exceptionally accommodating of late, meaning that it has been consistently flyable for most of them!

The other day, we were fortunate enough  to try out a few of the recent Advance gliders.

We had the Omega X Alps, the Pi 2, and the Alpha 6 to fly. For Dennis he could fly all of them seeings he conveniently falls into the weight range of all the gliders, for me I was restricted to just the Pi 2. So I was more than happy to fly that for the day.

This time of year, the thermals are all but gone, so no real thermalling just a hint of the autumn passing, and the winter en route to settling in, but there was a minor amount of temperature difference to allow a taste of very weak thermals, which was very sweet in fact. Dennis managed to momentarily scrape above launch, which was better than the rest of us! He flew the Alpha 6, and was most impressed with it, the development, construction and additional extras to the wing, in comparison to the Alpha 5. I didn’t fly it so cannot comment. He also had the enviable opportunity to fly the Omega X Alps, which I coveted to fly, but my weight denied me access, dag nabbit!  My description, a beautiful swan of a wing, what more can I say!

And finally, I flew the Pi 2. As I already have the Pi and ‘Easiness’ combination for hike and fly, I am more than happy with that combination, but the Pi 1 does have it’s limitations. However, with the Pi 2, all of those limitations have been eradicated, and the Pi 2, has developed into a flying wing, and not just a descent wing. It thermals like an Alpha, so climbs lovely, has an instant connection to the pilot as soon as airborne, and is as sweet as a nut. Ok, so it doesn’t have a great glide as such, but the fun of flying it, the confidence offered in flying a lightweight rig, that handles like a ‘proper’ grown up, with workable risers and regular break handles, that are and not all string and flimsy, is just such great fun! It is not just a lightweight, it is a full-grown lightweight. Very cleaver construction within the cross band in that regular sections have been cut-out for lightness, which undoubtedly adds to the whole stability feeling of the wing. All in all, the best lightweight rig, I’ve flown!

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Dennis on Omega X-Alps

November 19, 2015 Posted by | Flying, General | Leave a comment

Brimming Over!

Seems autumn may well be here… we haven’t had this much of the valley filled with so much dense cloud this late in the morning… the temperature had noticeably dropped, time to dig out the thermals.  It did clear however, and a nice afternoon followed! There were a few gliders about, so some nice flying going on, quite short lasting though.

Full to the Brim

Full to the Brim

September 29, 2015 Posted by | Day to Day, One to One Tuition | Leave a comment

Too Much, of a Windy Thing!

Local Pilot.. off and straight up!

Lovely sunshine this morning, although there was just one big problem…. the wind!

There were a couple of brave souls taking advantage of the air. Dennis had a fly down to landing, to assess the conditions for our students, unfortunately, it was just too windy, and unruly for them to fly in. We waited for a while, and watched some other pilots take off, and get pinned. Ok, if you have active flying experience, but not so good for the novice. The wind increased and later in the day, I took Tizzy walking, and noticed a handful of gliders trying to lose height in the valley. Turns out they were, the ‘joint services’ out here for the weekend.

Going up, wasn’t the problem!

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‘Joint Services’ – One Specker, Two Big Ears, and One Heading for Landing

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Tuition | Leave a comment

Summer, Giving Autumn a Look In

So the summer is slowly winding in, as there was a distinct feel of Autumn in the air today, showing a very slight hint of tree tip colour change. The flying amazingly has been really lovely… smooth air with thermic activity not disappointing at all! In fact the thermals have been accommodatingly serene, still taking us up to heights easily climb-out-able. Just a taste of what can be found during the autumn and winter months in the alps! Sometimes, the lapse rates work out so well, that it’s still possible to nuzzle out the unexpected cross-country!

This week we have two new fledglings, who are doing really well, and are already part way through their EPC training. Flying this morning was excellent, as we had the whole launch area all to ourselves!

We did have a bit of a wait, before first launch though, as we had heavy cloud blocking the sun, so the katabatic airflow hung around for a while before we could launch. Whilst waiting for the right moment.. I thought I’d take a couple of shots of the Plaine Joux info/tourist information boards that are here for all to see… includes the names of the mountains with altitudes.

Mont Blanc View

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Fiz View

Please click the images to expand for further detail.

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Tuition | Leave a comment

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.

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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