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NYD 1/1/2015 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] by [Ron F] [JD] [Timmay] [flychild] [Sundowner] [gracecab]
plus [Track Log / Photo / & Video Index] including John Greynald's [Deployment]

Nuthouse (Ojai) to Elings Park (SB Training Hill) / New Year's Day Fly In

Thursday, 1/1/2015
Leg 1 ~ 3.1 miles from the Nuthouse eastbound to Nordhoff
Leg 2 ~ 27.4 miles from Nordhoff westbound to La Cumbre Peak
Leg 3 ~ 2.8 miles from La Cumbre Peak eastbound to the Thermal Factory
Leg 4 ~ 1.4 miles from the Thermal Factory westbound to the RnR
Leg 5 ~ 6.3 miles from the RnR to Wilcox (then land at Elings Park)
total distance around 4 turn points ~ 41 miles
total distance around 3 turn points ~ 3.1 + 27.4 + 2.8 + 6.4 ~ 39.7 miles
total distance around 2 turn points ~ 3.1 + 27.4 + 6.4 ~ 37 miles
total distance around 1 turn point ~ 27.4 + 6.4 ~ 33.8 miles
distance from launch to landing ~ 26.1 miles
3 hours 29 minutes airtime, launch at 11:31 am  to landing at 3 pm PST
Niviuk Icepeak 6

Sundowner's Flight Report, see also [Weather Archive]
and Tom's Google Earth [KMZ] file or [IGC] Data file plus  [SD's Photo's in Neal's Photo Set] or Tom's [Track Image]

We had a slug of exceptionally cold air from Canada sag down inland, so at the bottom of the low the flow had some east in it.  On Monday morning I posted a blurb about the potential to fly into Elings from the Nuthouse, thinking I wouldn't get any takers because most pilots would probably prefer something easier on New Year's Day, but Neal Michaelis and Tim Barker shot back that night indicating they were up for the hike.  The weather unfolded similar to the model predictions so we were good to go.  Ron Faoro's wife Elizabeth had some stuff to do in Ojai, so she dropped Neal, Ron, and I off at the base of the trail before 8:50.  The puddles were iced over, so at least the hike wouldn't be hot and we didn't expect many bugs.  I got on the trail right away.

A 2nd crew of faster hikers consisting of Aaron LaPlante, Brian Howell, and Tim Barker were an hour behind us.  Dave Bader came out for the hike but he had partied the night before so he didn't bring a glider.  Dave could have crewed for the 2nd crew, but the logistics communication was late so we had to leave a vehicle at the base of the hill despite having 2 drivers.

It was  blowing light downriver when I started up at 8:50, and still blowing downriver at the base of the hill an hour later when the younger lads started their climb, but we mostly got out of the lower level north drainage by midway up.  Didn't really see much in the way of up cycles until we were within about a hundred feet of launch, but on launch it was cycling in good when I arrive at 20 past 10.  Could have done the hike faster, but I took an hour and a half because we were early and I didn't sense the up cycles until near the end.  The easiest ascent I've done in recent memory in cool conditions, good footing, and almost no bugs.  Dave Bader caught up and hike with me.  I typically lag the stronger climbers, so it was nice to have company on the trek.  Aaron and crew arrived on launch about 20 minutes later.  We did a little maintenance to keep our karma aligned while waiting for the day to heat.

The cycles seemed pretty good, but we were skeptical about the lack of activity below launch, and no one wanted to contemplate flushing, so we killed a little time.  A raven came through but didn't do anything to get us excited.  Finally started to suit up a little after 11 and Ron Faoro was first off about 20 past.  He was up and down between 50 below and a hundred above for about 5 minutes before finally getting established a couple hundred up the spine.  I went at 11:31 in a light cycle and got stuck 50 below for a half a dozen passes before a pulse came through.  I often figure 8 my way up to ridge line, but we didn't seem to have much wind and the cycle was going almost straight up with just a little drift from the SE, so both Ron and I cored it and climbed above ridge line, gaining 1500 feet in 10 turns before dolphining over to Spine One.

Spine One was a slow climb taking 14 turns to gain another 1300 feet from 3100 to 4400.  Worked up to Nordhoff Peak testing for max altitude but the best I could do was 5300 over the Lookout Tower.  Less altitude would be worth more further west, so angled back to the Pyramid, but only did a couple of turns before continuing on glide westbound with 4900. Ron had also gone fishing along Nordhoff Ridge and the rest of the crew was climbing through the mid 4s at Spine One.  Did ok on the glide across Hwy 33 with light tail wind initially and a little headwind on the other side, but here was very little draw into the Hwy 33 gap so we didn't have to deal with the venturi flow.  Did one turn over Bump 1, getting back to 36 and went all the way to Bump 3.

Bump 3 worked as usual, and the other pilots crossing were getting up pretty good at Bump One.  We normally have more of a venturi flow into the gap, but perhaps it was light on Thursday due to the cold air and early morning offshore flow from the north.  Anyway, Bump 1 typically has a lot of drift back into the gap so the thermal trajectory can be an issue, but Thursday's thermal trajectory was good due to the lack of venturi draw through the gap and everyone made it across pretty easy despite the less than stellar altitude.

The Hwy 33 crossing may have been easier than expected, but it wasn't going to be a gimme getting over the high ground due to the marginal but adequate max altitude.  Got into the lower 4s at Bump 3 and worked up over 5K at the Back Step.  Dolphined past the High Step with the same altitude and went through the saddle behind Whiteledge.  Fished along the back ridge a short ways, but I was a couple hundred below ridge line and wasn't willing to commit so I made a run south to get around to the sunny side of the SW spine of Whiteledge.  Wiggled up to the top and found a good thermal that got me to 55.  Still a little low, for an uphill jump so I took the back ridge route.  Got back to 48 on the back ridge just before East Divide Peak and got around the corner.  Got to 49 over the spine and then found a good thermal at West Divide for thousand foot climb from 45 to 5500 in 9 turns.

Mostly downhill from West Divide.  Dolphined under Jonathan and Southside as they made spaghetti along the middle of Castle Ridge.  Skipping along picking up a little at the west end of Power Line Ridge and few hundred more at the west end of Castle Ridge, but didn't bother to spend much time climbing until I got to Montecito Peak where I tanked up to 4300, drifting light from the east, for the crossing to the Thermal Factory.  Skipped the Thermal Factory but took 2 tries to bench back to the RnR from Tunnel Tit.

Chatted with Chad on the Radio.  He left Westbowl with 42 on glide for Elings but was coming up short, reporting headwind down lower.  Also heard another report from a pilot who came up short and turned around due to a poor glide over Loretta Plaza.  Opted to go for the high ground over La Cumbre Peak and attempt to get up into the NE flow for the glide out.

Got to 39 at Tunnel Tit on my 2nd pulse but left the RnR for EJs with 3800.  EJs was good for a hundred but I left for La Cumbre Peak a little below launch reading 37 plus.  The best I could do at La Cumber Peak was about 4300.  Watched a HG launch and fish over Cathedral before heading on without gaining anything.  Partially due to the reports of pilots coming up short, I was skeptical that I had enough to make the glide.

Aaron arrived at the RnR and climbed into the upper 4s, so after 10 minutes in the kitchen making spaghetti at La Cumbre Peak, I opted to backtrack to the RnR where I got to almost 4600.  Aaron had already headed out on glide by the time I arrived, but Neal had taken his spot.  Neal topped a bit higher than me and opted to follow Aaron as I lost the thermal.  Aaron reported that his glide was progressing but not definitive.  My car was at home in Carpinteria.  I didn't want to land short on the back side of the hill so I considered flying home.  I went east to the Thermal Factory but turned around when I heard that Aaron was arriving over Elings with 1300.

Topped out at 46 plus over the RnR in a thermal with Tim Barker.  A little higher than my last time there, about the same altitude that Neal and Aaron left with.  Pointed south and asked Neal what he was using for speed bar.  He came back saying he was using zero to light bar.  I followed suit and Tim was close behind.  I have a Flytec 6030 which has lots of bells, but the only GPS function I know how to use is ground speed, which is helpful.  Don't need much more than a vario and altimeter along the range because it's mostly wisiwig, but for long glides across town the more elaborate instrumentation information would be useful.  Cleared the crest of Elings with 1300 just like the pioneers before me and took a tour out to Wilcox for the scenery.  Landed at 3 o'clock.

Congratulations to Aaron LaPlante / aka Cracka / on being the first Pilot to fly into Elings from Ojai on New Year's Day.

Tim Barker was close behind, but Brian was still on course en route to the RnR.  Ron Faoro went to East Beach.  He wanted to get to his TV to watch his alma mater (Oregon) spank my alma mater (Florida State) in the Rose Bowl.  Brian eventually got into the upper 3s over the RnR in fading lift and squeaked into Elings with hundred to spare.

Hung out for an hour and a half chatting with old friends and flying buddies I hadn't seen in years.  Hitched a ride back to my house with John Scott.  We picked up Jonathan at East Beach on the way.


Thanks to Neal for reinforcing my inclination on Monday to try and make the flight from Ojai.  It looked doable, but it wasn't a gimme.  There was an argument that you could log more miles doing an out and return from the drive up launches in Santa Barbara, but to the best of my knowledge no one had previously flown into Elings from Ojai on New Year's Day, so the boutique-ness of the flight had an appeal.  When I talked to Neal I told him I was good to go if I had one other pilot to fly with, but I wasn't anti-social enough to go it alone.  Neal was unwavering and set the tone for others to join our party.  Ron Faoro is typically on board and it was great to get support from Elizabeth.  Getting dropped off without leaving a vehicle in Ojai was motivational.

Our pilot group gets somewhat fragmented over the Xmas holiday with a lot of pilots out of town.  We only had 3 confirmed for the hike on New Year's night.  I retired early to be rested for the dreaded hike.  We were a bit concerned as to whether we were making the right call, but the morning forecast reinforced our decision and we relived to see east wind driving along the Rincon coast.  Dave Bader called a half hour prior to departure and indicated he wanted to hike but his wife kept him up too late on New Year's Eve so he wasn't going to fly.  He took his own car and was about a half hour behind us.  As we were departing Carpinteria, the younger crew checked in.  They would be about an hour behind us slow climbers.  We tried to match them with Dave so we wouldn't need to leave a vehicle in Ojai, but when you have 6 pilots launching the Nuthouse, at least one will typically stay in the valley so we weren't too worried about the potential of having to do a vehicle retrieval.  I was elated to have 6 brothers on launch, and even more elated to have 6 out of 6 make it over the high ground through Casitas Pass and back to Santa Barbara, with 5 of the 6 landing at our declared goal (and it could be argued that Ron's goals weren't aligned with ours).

Tim and Aaron left early Friday morning to retrieve the vehicle they left in Ojai.  Almost a 2 hour chore, but Aaron gets to keep the title of being The First forever.

In hindsight, the RnR seemed like the best place to leave from for the glide across town.  With light east wind it was just the right line.  Pilots leaving earlier were expecting west wind out front and departed lower from Westbowl, but it was light from the east all the way out so they had to plug into a headwind with less altitude.  Plenty of HGs made the glide from La Cumbre Peak.  Congratulations to John Scott for making the party after his eastbound leg to the Powerline Crossing, and Jonathan for his attempt.  Watching his video I was pulling for him on his return leg even though I knew the outcome.  He left from the Factory, so if he hung in just one more point and he would have made goal, but I think he wanted the larger landing area because due to fatigue.  The only other paraglider pilot to land at Elings from the mountains was Lee Kahn who was there with his wife and their 4 week old first born.

Video is hosted ↓ on Viemo at https://vimeo.com/116451995          

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Video and initial edit by Peter Richner / 2nd edit by Tom Truax
Peter's initial edit is posted at https://vimeo.com/115910147


NYD 1/1/2015 [Weather] and [Flight Articles] by [Ron F] [JD] [Timmay] [flychild] [Sundowner] [gracecab]
plus [Track Log / Photo / & Video Index] including John Greynald's [Deployment]


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