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Chief's Peak, Laps
3 flights with 2 top landings, 3:45 airtime
29 miles around 2 turn points
5 miles from Chief's to the SE spine off the Bluffs
11 miles back to the Nut House Launch
13 miles back to the base of Santa Paula Ridge
Land at Saint Thomas College
There was a good turn out, 20+ pilots. Starting early in the week, the forecasters had been calling for a good Santa Anna weekend. Friday's gaggle had a good lapse rate, but by Saturday, the Santa Anna promise had evaporated with the return of onshore flow. It was average Topa, light wind, some haze, a bit more turb than normal (seems like it's always a bit more turb than normal), max altitudes in the mid 6s.
I rode up with some HG pilots and was off about 11:15. The thermals were small, broken and weak. I worked up to about 400 over and ran back for Chief's. No connection, so I stopped by launch to brief and socialize.
Off again about 11:30. The day was getting better. I got a couple hundred higher and was able to claw up a bit over the Peak. Got a good glide going east toward The Repeater. Downwind, lot' a small cores and extenders. Topped a bit over 6 at the Repeater.
500 below minimum altitude for the back route to The Bluffs, but had a taste of the action from the connection to The Repeater. I thought I would get some extenders on the way, come in low an still connect. It's fun going low and committed, as long as your have some Power Bars and plenty of water. Got there lower than expected. I was able to work patches of convection on the small faces between the fluted gullies. It was drawing around the lower west side of The Bluffs, so there was some ridge lift mixed in with the convection. I got to the base of the vertical wall and was able to dolphin along all the way to the SE spine. On the way, the drift was away from the wall half the time, with the buoyant patches drawing toward the face.
Moved down the SE spine (Puckers) to the high bump, and found a good one for a climb back up from the high 4s to about 65. The drift at altitude was light out of the N-NW. I thought of playing for Santa Paula Ridge, but it would probably be a fizzle past Fillmore. It was early and I wanted to be social and go fishing, so I headed upwind on top of The Bluffs hoping to connect in a convergence. Flew through some lift looking for a good core. Found a couple spikes of sharp lift, but they didn't seem wide enough to be sustainable. I was also leery of the small lee side bullets close to the terrain, and wanted something wider. About mid bluffs I was down to 55, below he rim and on the wall. I had some drift from the east away form the face and I took it across the canyon back toward The Repeater.
I was a bit deep in the canyon for the altitude, but had a feeling it would work. Collected a few hundred on the way, and the SE finger coming off the SE spine of the Repeater worked good. Took it up and back over to Chief's for another top landing. The HG's were still blocking the runway, and it was punchy on approach. I played short and come up shorter in the brush. 1 PM. Took 15 minutes to get it out and back up to launch.
More socializing, and airborne again about 1:30. The launches were fun. Got off on the first pull up all three times, but needed a bit of adjustment on the first one. I'm not sure if the HG's were deliberately being rude by blocking the runway, or perhaps just clueless. I've always been taught that you don't take the runway until your ready for takeoff (you wouldn't wheel your sailplane trailer onto the runway for assembly). I was able to work around them, but they're risking damage to their equipment by setting up in the action zone.
Climbed to 6+ and went for a high intercept on the spine behind The Stooges. Pilots had gotten over to Nordhoff earlier, but there was probably more lower level west wind later in the day. I was trying to stay up and away from the valley. Only the high 4s up in the back, on top of the spine, so I went fishing over on the next spine to the west that dead ends in the middle of the canyon. It got me into the upper 4's.
I could run out the canyon hoping to connect on the lower SE spine off the base of Nordhoff Ridge, or get committed and try to climb up the back ridge toward Nordhoff peak. I'd tried the back route once before with more altitude and gotten spanked off just short of the peak. Today felt different. Still potential for some bad air in the lee of the peak, but it was drawing toward the peak at the lower altitudes, and the back ridge east of the peak was in the sun. Came in on a spine running up to the back ridge about 500 below the peak and a few hundred below the back ridge. Worked several convection patches on the faces and stair stepped up toward the peak. Got even just to the east of launch, but it was coming out of the west above the cover. Tried to run for the spine heading out toward Nordhoff Ridge, but got spanked off. Turned tail perpendicular away from the spine back out into the canyon. A few hundred yards out I bounced into the convergence line between the lee side west and the upslope draw. Turned to run parallel with the seam and found a thermal. Was able to climb a couple hundred higher than the spine before the west started bending the thermal back away from the spine. I wanted the spine, so I left the thermal with it's deteriorating trajectory and ran up wind. I got on the spine low in front of the high bump. Had to fall off the west side to get around the next bump, and out on the ridge I connected back into the action.
There were a number of HGs around Nordhoff, getting higher, but mostly floundering about not knowing where to go. Pushing upwind westbound, I didn't bother to stop much and came in on Pyramid Peak just above the top. Cored one up to 45 and headed for the Nut House Launch Turn Point. It was drawing toward the gap so I picked up a tail wind. Didn't bother to stop for anything until I got back to Spine One even with the top. Picked up a few hundred and went off the east side with about 35 for Pyramid Peak. It looked like I'd come in a couple hundred below, but it started drawing halfway across the canyon, and I climbed on glide the rest of the way. Picked up enough to move over to Nordhoff Ridge. Dolphined along the ridge, skipping the rough stuff. Finally got down to ridge line over on the east side and had to core one. Took it to 47 and went downwind.
Skipped over the top of The Stooges and continued on with 38. Looked like a low intercept at Twin Peaks, but again, it started drawing pretty good a couple hundred yards out and I cleared the top on glide. It was getting late. The lift at Twin Peaks was smoother, but I only got to 4K. Tried sniffing around looking for 45. I wanted to go down the front points to save time, but with only 4, a connection at West Repeater was iffy. I went up the spine, getting higher, but still not high enough to cut across the canyon. I ended up getting to 55 over launch and continued on. 57 over the spine half way to the Repeater and the intercept was easy.
I'd used up some time detouring up the spine at Chief's for better action up high. I'd taken the high route across the back from the Repeater to The Bluffs earlier in the day, but it was doubtful if I'd be able to make the same connection later in the day below minimum go altitude. I hit some scraps over the point in the road at The Repeater. They probably would have paid off if I was patient enough to work it, but the day was fading and I was in a hurry. I'd gotten good action westbound off the east spine earlier in the day, so I dolphined on. Nada, and had to fall off to East Repeater. Zipo over East Repeater and run for Boyd's. Got there and got stuck below the top for 20 minutes. Finally flush off and run for Koenigstien Rd.
Looking at the trees on the glide out. They were all showing some wind from the west. Any convergence would be to the left, but I didn't have chase and didn't want to land up on the plateau in front of Puckers. Held the line for Koenigstien, and ran into something in the mid 2s big enough to latch onto. Nice smooth one, but not climbing very strong. Back to 32 on the drift across the plateau. The climb fell apart, so I ran for Santa Paula Ridge. Got a good down wind glide and didn't hit the headwind until I was about 3 or 4 hundred yards out. Still came in too low. Picked up a couple of small gains, but would loose it all and then some in the turns. If it was earlier, it might have been worth a side hill land to hike up a couple hundred, but I took the flush to the College.
The approach is more open now. They're in the process of burying all the lines. There used to be a line across the approach end, but its gone so the approach is easy. Landed about 3:30. Cleaned the glider on the grass and packed up. Caught the first car coming out of the College for a ride into Santa Paula, and made the connection at the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare. Back to the Ventura Pier at 4:42.