Sunday, September 27, 2015

Task 4: Addendum (or Throwing My Laundry)

The overview for this day is beautifully outlined by Alex’s post and Leon Schatz’s video. My version is a bit different (track log), but no less exciting. The beginning of the task was amazing. I had great launch conditions and the first thermal was with Alex and Thom. I was hopeful that we could work the whole task together but strangely, Alex was taking his gloves off and fiddling with his harness. He explained this in his write-up. Also, I lost track of Thom. I think he found some lift and was well above. So, I peeled off in the direction of the start cylinder, looking for lift with different pilots along the way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Task 7: Great Day for a Drink, or Three!

Today was our last chance to stage a competition task before the awards ceremony tonight. The forecast was looking a bit windy but we soldiered up the hill and waited it out as usual. Before the official launch window, we witnessed some amazing displays of high wind launching, top landing, and frisbee thermaling, but after waiting up there a while, the task was officially called off, and everyone rode down the hill to entertain themselves in other ways. Today we opted for the local brewery! A highly recommended spot for great microbrews and excellent food.

Task 6: Great Day for a Hike

The task was called off due to strong wind after only a short time on the hill. Most folks opted to explore some hiking options in the Sierras. We followed some of our Seattle buddies up to Lake Sabrina at 9,000 feet where there is a hike to Blue Lake located 1,500 feet higher. It was a six mile round trip, at a pretty constant 45 degree grade, and it took us over four hours for the whole trip. But what a beautiful place. The aspens are turning orange and red - they have seasons here! We passed quite a few locals on the way down who were heading up to camp up there.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Task 5: Called Off Due to Wind!

Finally a bit of a break from the daily grind. We actually overslept because we were so exhausted, and had to scramble to split up our morning tasks to get to HQ on time. Kari had an extra harness and reserve for JK to use so he could continue to fly! Once on top, we went through the motions even though we knew it might get windy. The task committee optimistically called a nice downwind task of 80 some kilometers.

Task 4: Bermuda Triangle

Today they called a daunting triangle task around the valley, with a start cylinder downwind and then a tough upwind leg to Black Mountain, followed by a long flatland line across the Owens Valley to the Buttermilks at the foot of the Sierras, then back across the valley to a point way downwind of launch, and another tricky upwind jog at the end just in case you didn't bomb out yet. Thom and JK and I were all working together after launch, trying to break through a pretty low inversion a thousand feet above launch. But I had a terrible problem. My speed system was detached on one side and possibly broken.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Task 3: Frostbite Freeway

Among local free flying pilots, the crest of the White Mountain range is known as the Hypoxic Highway. Thom and I borrowed oxygen kits so we wouldn’t get hypoxic. But I’m calling this mountain range the Frostbite Freeway because that’s what I got today for spending too long too high. I pulled out of the lift at 17,000 feet because my fingers were numb. I finally got some feeling back into them when I got lower, but tonight I can see a dead white spot on the end of one finger. I had gloves that I thought would be good at those temperatures but apparently I need better ones!

Task 2: In Space, No One Can Hear Your Vario Scream

Another super challenging day. As usual in these events, I was left behind right away, and I wasn’t willing to commit to the deep lines close to terrain that other people were taking. But while staying further out I just couldn't seem to get high. I ended up just working what lift I could find on each finger out front until I was sick of it, before hopping over to the next one. I wanted to give up each time but somehow I made myself stick with it. Eventually I connected with stronger stuff and ascended to 14,500 feet in front of White Mountain. I wasn’t sure if my O2 was working but I sure hoped so. Later I saw the bottle was fully depleted so apparently it was working. But there’s no obvious sign of it at the time with the kind of system I’m using.