Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back in the Sky

Tuesday John, Bill, and I headed to Tarkio to see what we could make happen. The sky was blue with some cirrus clouds so we didn't expect much thermal activity. When we got to the LZ, our wind sock was indicating a slight Northeast wind. Skunked! John and I figured we ought to at least cruise to launch since we had driven all the way out to Tarkio. When we rounded the final bend, we were shocked to see the trees leaning. Thermals were ripping directly up launch. It was going to be a good day.

I had brought my camera equipment out to finally get some in-flight photos. When everything was ready, I launched and immediately hooked into a thermal. John and Bill launched right after me and also shot straight up. We were shocked by the conditions. Nice consistent lift. The three of us flew around the valley for about two hours enjoying the afternoon.

The camera system seemed to work ok, but I still have a few kinks to work out. Overall I was pleased with the results from my first attempt. Here are a few pics I captured.

Thermaling over lower launch.

Upper launch in the background.

Trying my best to photograph Bill.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Day at Tarkio

A couple of days ago, Josh, Bob, Bill, and I had a great day at Tarkio. Bob unfortunately sank out, but Josh and I were able to fly around for quite some while. Bill eventually showed up after work and was able to squeeze in a flight before dark. As Bill was coming in for landing I got a chance to take some photos of him doing a wing over. We all had safe flights and a great day.

Bill getting a little inverted.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lady of the Rockies

Friday Karl, Josh and I headed for Butte to fly. We met up with pilots; Don and Greg and left for launch. This particular site in Butte is located 8,000' and directly next to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary. Recent cool temps had left a few inches of snow at launch and with a warm sun out, the place became messy. We did our best to set up in a confined area trying not to dirty our equipment too much.

Karl at the LZ.

The contoured terrain and switchy winds caused the ground handling to be difficult. Thankfully everyone launched without a problem. Once in the air, the flying was quit mellow. Consistently small thermals were rolling up the hill allowing us to easily stay about 500' above launch. After a short while I saw Josh and Karl heading south and gaining some altitude. It looked like fun so I followed. Before I could reach them, I found a thermal that had consistent lift and decided to hook into it. I climbed to 10,500' and noticed Josh and Karl heading my way. I figured they saw the good lift I was in and wanted to pimp my thermal.

The day's LZ.

I watched as Karl raced right by me. A second later he transmitted on his radio, "That cloud has a lot of suck." That all I needed to hear. I pulled full rope (I figured it would be a good first time to do so), and stuffed the control bar to my thighs. At this point I expected to be diving out of the sky, but I wasn't. I was cruising at 50mph ground speed and slightly climbing. Blue skies were just in front of me and quickly I began to loose altitude. We left the cloud suck and worked our way north. Thermals became nice and smooth. I consistently found 800'/minute up. Before I knew it, the valley below was coming to an end. With storm clouds all around us, Karl and I decided to land. Don was waiting with the truck and Josh landed just a short distance away. We ended our flight in the beautiful Elk Park valley, two hours later and ten miles from launch.

Elk Park and the retrieve.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bloody Fingers

Sorry for the late post, but here is what Ryan and I did after flying out of the Alaska range.

After a day organizing gear and cleaning up, we decided to head out of Anchorage to a rock climbing area near the small community of Chickaloon. The climbing was excellent; steep and very textured. Unfortunately I was feeling very weak after a month of being on the glacier mainly sitting and eating. Since the warm up routes are 5.11, I got worked quick. My fingers also took a beating. After the month of manicuring them in soaking wet gloves, I had lost all my calluses and the rough rock tore them apart. By the time I began to feel some strength returning, my fingers were bleeding and I was done. Oh well, that's the way it goes sometimes.

While we were there, I got a chance to visit my friend Glen and Anna. I finally got an opportunity to see their beautiful home and what a home it was. An amazing log cabin built on stilts thirty feet in the air.

After climbing, it was back to Anchorage to once again clean up and head for the airport.

Jorge and Skinny at Weener Lake.

Ryan kick'n it during belay duty.

The beautiful Chugach range across the valley.

Jorge working a route.

Glen and Anna's amazing home.