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Paraglide.net [Flight Articles for Saturday 2/4/12] [Weather Archive for Saturday]
straight line distance from launch to landing, about 34 miles
about 2 3/4 hours airtime, launch about 11:20ish, land just after 2pm
Sundowner's Flight Report, see also [Weather Archive]
The Nuthouse in Ojai to Glen Anne Road on the West Side of Goleta
Started watching Friday morning after reading a few post, and got a green light to go after the dinner dishes were put away. An easy call with a persistent whether pattern. The morning review looked even better.
Not much organization compared to the old Nordhoff Bus Schedule, but 9 pilots started up the trail in 4 different groups (7 flew). Tom Pipkin was already on launch when we got there. The 2nd batch starting up a bit before 9:30 included Andy Dainsberg, Chris Paul, Marty DeVietti, and myself (Tom Truax). Chris Grantham was at the trail head about 40 minutes behind us with his P2 student Robin who got towed away from the Training Hill by the good conditions beyond her skill level. Robin didn't hump here gear up. Ron Faoro and Bob Hurlbett started up in higher temperatures about 40 minutes behind Chris G because Ron was attending to a sick dog at his clinic.
The trail is much improved. Christian Rossberg did the initial lower level work years ago, but much of it had washed out. Andy has led an ongoing effort to repair and stabilize some of the problem zones and mitigate the obstacles. It is still a steep thousand foot climb, but with better footing, the energy required is significantly reduced. Brendan has reportedly done the climb in 20 minutes with gear. My best time a dozen years ago, before adding ballast, was about 40 minutes. I throttled my pace on Saturday and took 70 minutes. Chris Paul was setup and ready to go by the time I got up. Bob Hurlbett, the oldest climber on Saturday by 8 years, was feeling unbalanced and opted to head back down about a 3rd of the way up. To the best of my knowledge, no female pilot has done the climb with gear unassisted (Kristi did make the climb with gear, but I recollect she received some assistance from Brendan). Hopefully, with the ongoing trail improvements, the boys only club will be infiltrated soon. The climb can also be hot and buggy because we often use it on east flow days with some Santa Anna influence, so I recommend starting early in the cooler air and allotting some recovery time on top. I pack a change of underwear so I don't have to fly wet. Launch conditions can also grow stronger than optimal as the day heats up.
Lower on the hike, there were some cool cycles from the mouth of the canyon wrapping across the trail. By the time I got up near launch, they were flowing uphill. Launch conditions at 10:45 were steady, about 5-8 straight in, but subsequently transitioned from steady to cycling. Chris Paul took two pulls and made it look easier than it was. He wasn't going up at first, but after a short fishing trip he centered a core and stepped up to 65 before crossing Hwy 33 westbound. Marty and Andy followed in quick succession, then Tom Pipkin and myself about a quarter past 11. Chris G launched at 11:45, followed 20 minutes later by Ron Faoro.
I got off clean around 11:20ish in a nice cycle, but wasn't going up. I looked up and saw Tom Pipkin descending from a couple hundred above. We both groveled below launch for awhile, often needing to share small thermals close to the hill. I considered stuffing it into the brush on the trail a couple hundred below rather than sinking to the road. We finally cored up in a respectable cycle. At 600 over I thought were were connected, but we both lost it and I was drifting away from the hill in a down elevator. Back below launch for another double Tom dance before eventually bouncing up again. The thermals weren't doing their characteristic roll up the hill like a snowball. They would break away from the spine, and after getting higher, they would drift various directions, including away from the hill. After loosing the 2nd core, I opted to hug the SE face and work the boundary layer convection. I could sustain, but the best I could manage was about 600 over launch, a few hundred below ridge line. I watched Pipkin fizzle again, down the main spine below launch.
My thinking was that I needed to get away from the mouth of the canyon by moving east for better blockage. I was finally able to jump over to the next shallow spine. Got there about 400 over launch and went fishing downhill. I was about to throw in the towel and limp back to launch when I ran into a weak but smooth and steady thermal that took me over 5K drifting from the SE. I was drifting back toward the lake and was halfway across 33 by the time it petered, so rather than stepping upwind toward Nordhoff I opted to crab across to White Ledge Ridge. Got a good glide on the way with several extenders over the mouth of the canyon.
Got back into the high 4s behind Bump 2, but didn't find it over Bump 3. The drift was from the SE so I kept going, figuring I could work the boundary layer on the face up toward the Back Step if necessary, but there was a lee side thermal in the canyon west of Bump 3 that got me back above 5. Fished around between the Back Step and the High Step and worked up to 75ish, drifting a little behind ridge line. Matched that altitude behind White Ledge and the Divide Peaks.
It was mostly a downhill downwind bob after Divide. Dribbled below 25 in front of Ramero and considered making a play for the beach, but finally spotted pilots doing ok over The Factory, so I opted to turn right and stayed in the game.
Bobbed across Montecito and came in behind Parkers. There was a HG groveling lower in front, but it worked better behind. Got back up close to 4K at the Factory and left for the Peak from the RnR with 38. A PG a half mile ahead took the same tack with more altitude but didn't connect, so I fell off through the saddle between The Peak and Cathedral and limped over to West Bowl, getting around the corner below 25. There were several pilots overhead topping around 4ish. Worked up and eventually took the drift over No Name to the VOR, passing under Marty on his return leg from the Windmill.
Rounded the Windmill at Painted Cave with about 35ish and started back, but found a smooth blob of lift over the plateau and tracked it back into the Pass topping in the lower 4s. Tried to point back to the VOR spine again, but there was more SE wind at the higher altitude. Had to make a quick decision on the glide so as not to squander my altitude and opted to veer right across 154. I was back in the Pass a bit, so needed to penetrate further out front to avoid getting caught low up on the flat.
There were some buoyant stretches up on the flat, but the thermal trajectory was shallow so I was reluctant to commit. Finally fizzled off and reached for a low front point. Down below 15, but got a nice core back into the low 2s. After loosing the core, my options were to commit deeper back up the shallow spine, reach for the next point to the west, or go fishing out front. My flying muscles were sore from a short day of coring, and I opted for the conservative fish out front, but didn't get any bites, so I veered west across a water treatment plant. No where to go with 500 AGL, so set up for approach to land at the back of Glenn Anne Road. Touch down a little past 2 PM.
Cell phone reception was sketchy, but I did get in a few calls after a couple of disconnects. Tried to thumb a ride out the canyon, but society has changed. 15 vehicles went by, some with a single fat driver in a big empty pickup, but none of them was willing to take a risk. Ended up hiking a mile, trying to get to better cell reception. Chris Grantham and Robin eventually drove in to pick me up in Robin's car. Everyone else from our crew had landed at the T. Tom Pipkin collected them in Andy's truck, and we all met up at the Hot Dog stand in Carpinteria. Swapped recollections of the day, then headed back to Nordhoff HS to retrieve vehicles. Home a little before sunset.
PS. There was mention that I had the longest straight line leg of the day by a few miles. That may be technically correct, but I was lagging 5-10 miles behind the Ojai lead all day. Had the leaders opted to race across 154, they likely would have gone further. Chris and Andy get style points for top landing at the Alternator, and Marty gets a bonus for marking logical turn points and testing the deteriorating connections back upwind. I think Bo's flight was impressive, a few miles shorter than Marty's longest leg, but he likely could have reached the same LZ launching from Ojai.
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