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East Bound Through Casitas Pass from SB toward Ojai
Generally, I won't leave Castle Ridge for Power Line Ridge unless I think I have a chance to make it through The Pass. The altitude will get better at Noon, but if it doesn't look doable, I'll head out from Castle Ridge for Carpinteria rather than committing behind Snowball. You can leave from the Castle Points fairly low (high 2s) and still squeak out the canyon for the edge of Carpinteria, but if you get low at Power Line Ridge you can be trapped behind the front foothills and will likely have to hike.
If you throw in the towel and head for Snowball, you can still try the low route along 150, but the success rate on the low route into Ojai is less than 10%. The low front route works better on low cloudbase days when it's overdeveloped in the back and the sun line is along the front foothills. If it's too sunny out front, it probably won't work good enough to get through, but at least your not looking at spending the night.
The middle route between Power Line Ridge and the front hills does have it's days, but if you consistently play that line you gota enjoy hiking.
From Power Line Ridge I'll generally press on to the front trapezoid at Noon. The ridges are ridgey so you pick up a little here and there for short connections, but Noon is a peak with big canyon crossings. The altitude potential is usually better at Noon than along the ridges. Noon can be fickle and pulses, so I often get stuck there and have to wait for a better cycle to leave with. I want at least 45 for the jump to West Divide, but prefer 5K depending on variables. I have gone lower but if you leave with less than 45 you probably shouldn't play for the high peak behind the saddle. If I flush off Noon I'll head down the spine hoping for a boost. The spine angles to the SSE and peters out. The wind is usually from the west so it's easy to transition over toward the back side of the Gobernator Hill if you can't reach out of the foothills.
I want 5K or better at West divide, but have left as low as 43. The altitude is worth more out front, but I usually try to bench up, but not always. East divide sometimes works, but isn't dependable.
If I can't get my go altitude at West Divide, I'll head down the spine toward the Gobernator Hill (the hill behind the Gobernador Canyon). The spine drops into a saddle where the power lines cross, and then back uphill to the Gobernator Hill. I've come up short several times on the back side of the Gobernator Hill. You can land on the fire break, hike to the top, and relaunch off the south side. It's is a little scruffy up top, but hopefully the cows are keeping it clear enough. Haven't been up there in a few years.
I've always gone for the low SW point of White Ledge, because you can come in pretty low and get up, and if I don't connect, the hike won't be as bad. Even if I'm low in the saddle in front of East Divide, I'll still play downwind for the low SW corner of White Ledge. If you do end up hiking, you can land on the dirt road and hike through the cow pasture below White Ledge and out to the far east knob. You want to relaunch going south, but the wind can be cross from the west or even the WNW, especially later in the day. Fortunately, I've always been able to get off. If you take the back ridge and can't get through the saddle behind White Ledge, the hike looks significant. Pilots have been doing it, so I guess I'll need to give it a try.
If you can get up at White Ledge or around the front side, you're probably ok for the downwind down hill leg to 33.
Love reading all the articles about pilots pressing on low and discovering new lines. Other than the Gobernator landings and relaunches, I haven't landed out in with my PG traveling through The Pass eastbound from Santa Barbara to Ojai (knock on wood?). I guess I've grown older and conservative. I do love the excitement of going low, but haven't gone as low as most of the rookies.
PS: I did land out a number of times Eastbound in my hang glider, and once in front of White Ledge west bound as a rookie PG on my Quantum. Have always been able to relaunch, but the launch conditions haven't always been favorable. I am willing to hike, but usually prefer to avoid it. I have had some substantial hikes.
© copyright 2/4/04
See Also / other Casitas Pass Comments from:
[General Casitas Pass Comments 2/2004]
[Tim Barkers's 1/2/2014 EJ to Nordhoff Flight]
[Chris Lorimer's 2/4/2020 EJ to Nordhoff Flight]