Wonderful day of flying on Wednesday.
The task was essentially an out and back from the Butte to Leahy and back via Withrow. Making it to Leahy was a challenge but not as hard as making it back. While the wind was light, it was out of the West/Northwest making the return trip a “slugfest” as a friend called it.
The conditions on launch were very nice, though we were capped at 5,000 until just before start.
I decided that I would take my chance with the launch line yesterday. In the past I have launched first or near the first in order to avoid waiting in line, but I figured 15 minutes on the ground wouldn’t hurt and as long as the line wasn’t huge. As it turned out that line forms real fast when it starts forming and I was lucky to be 20th or so.
The launch crew was doing a bang up job getting folk off between the rocks. They were offering Ants as an option. No one in line wanted Ants because Rocks was working so well there was no need to risk the rotor. By the time I was second up Rocks began to get light and I switched to Ants which worked great. The launch cycle was light but a strong run to the bottom of the launch hill worked fine.
I was in the air by 20 after noon and start was an hour and 10 minutes down the road. We went up and down in good thermals but didn’t get high until just before start. Often there are multiple thermal cores on the Butte and they can alternate. I happened to be further South when the main gaggle boosted up and just before start I caught the cycle to make top of the stack even though the stack was 400 meters North of me.
It is quite a site when 100 gliders all turn to start as a flotilla. I joined in a bit higher and 200 meters back. This was perfect position, giving me the ability to watch other gliders for lift lines and the rim thermal. At the rim the big gaggle North found lift quite far up Farnum and we found it in the next draw to the South.
This lift eventually took us to 7,000 feet and began the trek east. There were plenty of partners helping find lift on an all blue-sky day. On an out and back the line stays quite busy until you turn to head home. After the turn the number of gliders in your area drops off fast.
When I got to Leahy we were in light lift and I took it up to around 6,000ft. I should have milked it to 7,500 or so but with only 3k to go I figured I could tage out and back and regain my thermal without problem. BUT it was a problem. As usual two mistakes back to back usually ends a flight.
Heading to the turn point on the South ridge that defines the Leahy draw I saw an Orange wing on the North ridge and he seemed to be doing better than me in my mega sink. I headed more toward tat wing but that just pushed me further down into the valley and the sink. By the time I wised up I was very low, but just then I tagged and bugged out.
I did get back to the location of my previous lift but fairly low.
I flew through it looking for the strongest point of lift but missed it. I had a visual on the lift trigger but the thermal was leaning more when I got back so I ended up sinking on the windward side of the lift. Eventually I figured it out and returned to the bubbles but it was too little too late.
I couldn’t work the light stuff with the winds building and my flight ended right there.
The cool thing was that a retrieve crew from Colorado was following there own and waited for me. We had a great afternoon chasing Greg Kelly back to near the rim for a sweet retrieve.
Today is the last day – Should be great flying and a party to go.
Totals – Time in air 4hours, 34 XC miles and max altitude just under 9,000ft.`
Camera – I messed up my SD chip and lost two days photos.