Archive | February, 2011

Skiing on Vermilion Peak

26 Feb

Friday February 18th, I took a day off work and went skiing with a couple members of the ACC Rocky Mountain Section.  We parked at Numa Falls in Kootenay Park, and then hemmed and hawed – it was -22C with a brisky and icy northerly outflow wind pushing down from Alberta.  Eventually, Al convinced us to get out of the car by saying “it’ll be better in the trees”.  And it was!

We crossed the road, clipped on our skis, then skinned up Vermilion Peak, gaining 900m elevation.  It was a nice sunny day, and the higher we went, the warmer it got thanks to a temperature inversion.  By the time we stopped for a bite of lunch, we were down to single layers (though we quickly covered back up to avoiding cooling off too much while eating).

With avalanche risk in the alpine forecast to be considerable, we decided to stay below tree-line where the hazard was only moderate.  Naturally we all carried beacons, shovels and probes, but no one wants to have to use them.

The snowpack was great: 15-25cm of fresh snow on top of a hard layer below provide just enough float for nice turns, while preventing us from sinking deeper into the snow where we suspect there might be deadfall.  We had a great run down: the slope had a nice consistent pitch, neither too steep nor too flat, and the trees were spaced widely enough to serve as slalom gates rather than barricades.   Here’s a visual record of the day:

Cañón del Chicamocha

16 Feb

Here is a well-edited video about paragliding in the Cañón del Chicamocha in Santander province, Colombia. I flew this canyon on three separate days in March, 2009, with the first flight being off the vertical cliffs seen in the first seconds of the video.  It was a spectacular experience, getting up to cloudbase, cruising the length of the cliff walls, then crossing the canyon and soaring over the national park on the other side.   It's mid-morning flying, with all pilots aiming to be on the ground around noon – in the afternoon, winds pick up some days to 50 km/h or more!

Swansea Hook XC

5 Feb

A short little cross-country flight on my Niviuk Hook paraglider from Mt. Swansea last July: 

A friend captured my launch off the summit of Mt. Swansea at Invermere, BC,  just before 14:00 on July 9th, 2010.  The air was a bit more dynamic than I expected, and I over-controlled a bit on the first correction after inflation. Fortunately I got it a bit more stabled out before lifting off.  I climbed out in a thermal to 2700m ASL, then tried to fly upwind to the north. After a couple of tries I made it to No.1, the next peak north, but it was a struggle.  Trying to get to No. 2, I started to get low, so I gave up and headed out downwind over the golf course to get under a low, circling glider.  I got in that thermal and climbed from 1500m to 3000m (nice view of Assiniboine to the ENE), then pointed straight down the middle of the valley following Highway 93.  Just past a low rocky knoll with a radio tower on it, near Lyttle Lake, I squeezed out a top-up to 2500m and went on glide toward Fairmont Hot Springs.  Heading toward the airfield, I called in my approach on my aircraft handheld and made a left-hand circuit to a grassy touch-down beside the mid-point of Runway 33.   



The subsequent exchange with the aircraft manager sitting in the shade in the sweltering heat went something like this: 

“Where’d you come from?”

– “I just landed on [runway] 33”. 

“I didn’t hear anything.  Where’s your aircraft”

– “Right here (pointing at my large bag)”.  

Long silence, raised eyebrow. 

– “It’s a paraglider.  And I’m a licensed pilot.” (So relax already). 


The 3-D GPS tracklog of the flight is on 


Seconds after launch:


Looking north toward peak No.1  (lower right)  and No. 2 and No. 3 (middle):


Mt. Assiniboine rises above all in the distance to the ENE:


Heading south, with the Fairmont airport way in the distance:


Getting low… I might have to land in one of those fields ahead of me:


Thanks to this rocky hill and knoll for triggering a thermal for me:


Ahh, that’s better, now I have a chance of making it to Fairmont:


Happy boy!


“Fairmont traffic, this is hang glider Sierra Alpha Mike, 1 mile to the north at 5.0 (thousand feet), inbound for landing, any conflicting (traffic) please advise.”