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5/20/2001

Pine NS to Rose Valley
Wild Ride
Bonanza

The lapse rate was good, but the pressure was building.  The north east wind had the convergence line pushed out over Tule Creek.  We got to the south launch about 11.  Launch cycles were coming in, but the wind on the ridge was steady otb about 10.  I took a nap in the pines, savoring the solitude and aroma.  The wind tried to back off with cycles down to zero on the ridge between 11:30 and noon.  After 12:30 the north was building.  The clouds street was running from Grade Valley, across Haddock, and up Tule Creek.

The hangies set up in force at the south launch.  There were launchable cycles, but I didn't like the steady wind otb in the trees topping 12 knots.  We all relocated to the New North Launch and I was airborne about 1:45.  I got to the spine ok, and looked out front down hill for a thermal, but nada.  I had to take a scrap and drift back in.  It took about 10 minutes to wiggle back up to tree line and get established.  I got up to about 64 and searched around, but it was mostly ridge lift.  About a half hour after launch a cycle came through and I followed it up toward the campground, topping about 73.  I considered running up ridge, but the thermal action was limited and I didn't want to get stuck over the trees against the wind, so I took it otb.

The glide out was ok, but no rebound.  Still NW at the river so I took it across to Ortega.  We usually hit a rebound before getting to the river, and if you have to cross looking for it, it's typically too cross down river from the west.  This day was different.  With the clouds south of Ortega, the wind still had enough north component to ridge up.  Higher on the hill the thermals were strong and the wind gusting over 15.  I got out of position behind of a finger and had to run downwind toward The Gorge.  I hit some skips and went otb with about 500 over just before Cal Trans.  With the wind still from the NW, I went on the right side of the hill west of Cal Trans.  The NW doesn't usually push through to the swimming hole, but it does sometimes, and it was today.  When it does, you can often find the convergence over the "Y" junction (3 canyons, the Sespe does a 90 where Tule Creek comes in from the west)

I was down to about 500 off the deck, clearing the Cal Trans hill and heading out into Tule Creek when I ran into what I thought was a nice thermal.  The climb got better and the drift switched  back against the wind.  It seemed to be drawing up the Sespe from the SE and I picked up about 1,500'. I figured I got to the convergence.  I was loosing the core so I looked downwind to the NW and got clobbered.  The canopy full stalled behind me and came over head in parachutage.  I had plenty of altitude, and wanted to avoid a strong surge, so I sat on it.  It was stuck in parachutage and I needed to come up most of the way off the brakes to get it flying again.  When it bit it drove real hard out front, but settled down after a couple of gyrations.  I used up about 500' in the recovery.

I ran downwind across the river with the drift from the SW and got worked pretty good.  Had a minor 50% asymmetric before hitting a core that shot me up so hard I was worried about the structural integrity of my gear.  The vario was off scale and seemed like I gained about 2 grand in about 30 seconds and a half a dozen turns.  The climb rate was wicked and the surges were yanking me around like a rag doll.  I was a bit concerned that the lift was so strong but there were no cumies.  The wind was up and the 3 canyon Y was providing opportunity for a powerful mix.  I kind'a knew this wasn't my ticket to cloudbase, and sure enough I got spanked again.  Another full stall with a spin in parachutage.  I was more aggressive on the brake release this time and got it flying again without as much surge.

I knew I didn't want to land there and I had about 2,500 agl, so I ran downwind to the east.  I found a nice core that seemed smooth and was only 500 up.  I drifted into Rose Valley with it and considered running for Ojai with 63.  I thought I could make the convergence which was down the Sespe about half way between Lions camp and Devils Heart.  I was also hoping that once I got away from the Y, the action would be more reasonable.  I took another full stall and a spin over the Helitek Station with about 5 grand.  I was going to need to run downwind another 5 miles away form the nearest road.  The line looked good, but I was concerned that if I got hurt I might not be able to communicate my predicament.  If I connected I'd probably make Fillmore or better.  I waffled indecisively unwilling to get too far downwind of Rose Valley.  I finally turned back and found some sink.  The air was channeling up the road and the landing was easy.  Tony and Carolyn were there and I broke down at Nordhoff.

I heard that some of the Hangies skipped into Ojai.

SD