31 July 2014

Not There, Here.

Crown Mountain
'Just a short flight to test my harness.', I thought. My Gin Genie Race 3 had arrived and I was eager to fly it. My local site, Grouse Mountain, produced unexpectedly magical evening air that gifted me with an exploration into the deeper valleys, far from roads and landing fields. I had a rare close up view of Crown Mountain and even Mount Perrault at the deepest.

The return to civilization was tense, for a time, when I faced a headwind lower in a valley. With only steep rock faces and a sea of evergreen below me, I skipped my iPod Shuffle to a super chilled ambient downtempo track: High As We Might Be by Kalpataru Tree, from the album All Things Passing.

I breathed deeply, and focused on finding lift. 'You're not there, you're here. Fly this.', I reminded myself. In a challenging situation, I sometimes begin to fantasize about a situation less challenging, that I would prefer, than to give all of my attention to what is happening now. How did this happen? Why am I here? I wish I was not here. All useless questions.

I descended into a narrow gully. Still, my anxiety was fading, I was noticing the beauty around me, and enjoying the flight immensely. I was no longer trying to run for the exit, resisting the situation, wishing for something to be different. I was relaxed and therefore able to access my experience and skill, to manage the risks I had exposed myself to.

Patiently, I focused on improving my position, gradually. After some time, I suddenly realized that I was past the worst of it and would likely reach the main open valley. I was enjoying the flying so much that I hadn't noticed the transition from trapped to free. I was always free.


I find it euphoric to fly my paraglider over beautiful and rugged terrain and just giggle at how absurd it is that humans can do this kind of thing, just for fun. I also find it equally euphoric to return from this remote paradise, unscathed, to make goal, to land in a familiar field with children playing, covered in lush grass, close to home, and replay the magic in my mind as I pack my gear and leave across a dew covered field, as the Sun sets.

12 July 2014

Lillooet Glacier

Left: Capricorn Mountain Right: Lillooet Glacier
This is my most remote moment while flying a paraglider: the far end of a 120 km out-and-return flight.

Despite the cloudless sky and haze, turbulent thermals lifted me to 3000 metres. I moved from one peak to the next, into ever increasing remoteness. Without an engine, using only nature's energies, I smiled often during this magic carpet ride with my Boomerang 9.

The electric feeling of adventure, loneliness, exhilaration, peace, anticipation, and vulnerability, is difficult to describe adequately.

I can say that I am grateful for this day.

07 June 2014

Zorah Peak

Zorah Peak
A 80 km out-and-return paragliding flight from Upper MacKenzie launch near Pemberton, BC, Canada.

During the most remote part of the flight, I met Zorah Peak. Far from roads and landing fields, underneath lay only snow, rock, old forest, and a raging river. I shivered uncontrollably at cloudbase and felt a tingling tension low in the valleys.


But by evening I was back in Pemberton, packing up my wing in the warm grassy landing field, watching students having short practice flights, and smiling to myself about how amazing the flight had been, as the sun set.



Gin Boomerang 9

03 June 2014

Mount Cheam

Mount Cheam
The Halkomelem name for the peak, Theeth-uhl-kay, means "the source" or "the place from which the waters spring". For the Sto:lo, the peak is the "mother mountain" or old woman overlooking her children dwelling in the valley. Lady Peak, to the south is the old woman's dog. Cheam, the official name of the peak, is the Halkomelem word for "wild strawberries."

During a 60 km triangle paragliding flight in the Fraser Valley I had the opportunity to climb the north face of this majestic mountain.

11 November 2013

A Walk in the Garden



As the sun descended upon the horizon and shadows grew longer, I left on a flight deep into hidden valleys, over a sea of evergreen and rock. A few moments to clear my head, in this ordinary paradise.

17 October 2013

Cloud Forest

The Cloud Forest of the Ko'olau Mountain Range, O'ahu, Hawaii

16 September 2013

Araxá


Horizonte Perdido launch- 250 m above the valley

Cloud street
Crossing Rio Grande- the border between the state of Minas Gerais and the state of São Paulo

The last hour of a long flight
The last few minutes of a 170 km flight without retrieve

Dreamscape
Gavião nests in Ipê

Cavalos

O pôr do Sol
To have a beginning, is to have an end. Until next time.

27 August 2013

Canadian National Championship




2nd Torsten Siegel (GER) 1st Brett Hazlett (CAN) 3rd James Bradley (USA)

13 July 2013

13th FAI World Paragliding Championship



26.07.13

Strong north wind. Jeremie LAGER of France is World Champion!

Reluctantly, the time has arrived to travel home. But we take with us memories that will endure a life time!

Photo credit: Josh Cohn

25.07.13

Strong north wind.

24.07.13

Strong north wind.

23.07.13

One hundred and thirty glorious kilometres over magnificent mountains, alpine meadows, and forested plateaus.

The course
The forecast was excellent and, finally, we had pleasant launch conditions.

Photo credit: Debbie Hsieh
I launched directly into a solid 5 m/s thermal that lifted me to the 3000 m cloudbase within minutes. It was cold and rough as we sped along the course, deep in the mountains.

PARA-dise
The final glide proved to be critical. Many landed tragically short. I made the difficult decision to abort final glide only a few kilometres from the end-of-speed section and turned 90 degrees to the course line to search for lift. I used the little height that I had to dive low into the lee of the south hills and miraculously found a little dragon of a thermal that nearly frontalled my glider but gave me the chance to attempt another final glide. My second attempt also failed and this time I made a slight course deviation and found another climb for a third attempt. The numbers felt conservative but soon the situation became tense as my glide ratio decreased to 5:1 with a 7:1 required to reach goal. Luckily, the sinking area past. For the first time in twenty years of flying I crossed the line after a three-attempts final glide.

Relieved to be in goal
Scores:

http://airtribune.com/13-fai-world-paragliding-championship/results

22.07.13

Rain. The weather cleared late in the day but not early enough to complete a task.

21.07.13

The task was stopped before the start time due to overdevelopment along the course. There was rain, lightning, thunder, and a gust front.

Cumulonimbus
20.07.13

125 km, 3.5 h, convergence, 20 km final glide. Stefan Wyss of Switzerland won.

My awesome Boom9 (Photo credit: Martin Scheel www.azoom.ch)
Course line convergence
Boom9 silhouette over goal
Josh and I taking glider pictures of each other
Photo credit: Josh Cohn
19.07.13

We had a bipolar 120 km task. In parts I turned in zero for minutes, in another I flew straight for minutes with full bar and climbed at 8 m/s.

Adrian Thomas of Great Britain won.

Goal bliss
18.07.13

The north wind made launching impossible. Task cancelled. We had an immense meal.

Our landlady has been making home cooked meals
17.07.13

The north wind subsided long enough for a sufficiently safe and long launch window. We had a gorgeous 70 km race with 120 pilots in goal. My end game slowed me a little but I earned among the highest leading bonus.

Stephan Morgenthaler of Switzerland won the task.

16.07.13

The north wind made launching impossible. Josh, Eric, and I hit the gym.

15.07.13

A strong north wind created lee side conditions that prevented us from launching while we waited for the anabatic winds to strengthen. But cloud spread out brought shade over our south slope and we remained in our harnesses, waiting, as the start time past.

Just when we thought we wouldn't fly, it began to blow in lightly. Within ten minutes 150 pilots launched into light thermals and climbed to base. Since the start gate time had past, we left on course to the east immediately.

There was a lot of shade and some of the passes allowed the north wind to penetrate, creating turbulence, sink, and difficult crossings.

We flew over some beautiful and remote slopes with herds of wild horses, dramatic rock formations and a waterfall. The demanding conditions only allowed me to come away with images stored in my head and not in my camera.

The second part of the course proved difficult for most pilots. I landed with Peter Neuenshwander, Michael Sigel, and Torsten Siegel. We thought we had done well until we heard from Martin Scheel that there were fifty pilots in goal. Our mood changed.

Landing field
We had landed in a beautiful valley surrounded by small hills and forest. Since there was only a narrow trail nearby, we decided to walk out to the south, away from the mountains, towards the main road. The path meandered through forest and along fields of wheat and potato. Fruiting trees along the path tempted us to stop- apple, pear, fig, cherry.

Stream
Along the way we had to cross this stream. I took off my shoes and navigated bare foot among the stones, avoiding falling over with the weight of my paraglider on my back. After putting my shoes on on the other side I felt refreshed. I realized that today was a good day.

Within an hour we reached the main road and were soon retrieved.

Marco Littame of Italy won the task.

14.07.13

Official practice day. Very windy.

13.07.13

Registration and opening ceremony.

Opening parade
12.07.13

Josh, Marty, and I rode to the peak to fly but there was overdevelopment across the valley and after observing the conditions develop we made the decision not to fly. During the ride down the mountain in the chairlift we heard thunder and by the time we reached the bottom, a gust front had arrived.

11.07.13

At dawn we left by train to Sopot. Yassen told us the forecast was good so we were keen to arrive in Sopot early.

Dawn arrives
Our train left at 6:25 am. It was only a few cars long, open air, very old, and covered in graffiti. The coolest train I have ever seen.
Our ride
The Bulgarian countryside streamed by effortlessly as I smiled in disbelief of where I was, how I arrived here, and why I was here.

Sunflower
Three hours later we arrived in Sopot.

Richard and China attempt to converse with a local pensioner
Our priority was to fly so we slammed a round of Red Bulls and showed up at the lift.

Shambala
The flying was epic. After so many months of planning, anticipation, so many hours of traveling, so many lost hours of sleep, it felt so good to smell the cool air at cloud base, high over Bulgaria.

Landing after a 80 km triangle
10.07.13

It was thirty-hour blur of time zones, departure halls, the hum of turbines, and the incessant smell of eau de Boeing that brought me to Sofia, Bulgaria. I met a partial of the Brazilian team and we took a taxi to Art Hostel to spend the night, before catching an early train to Sopot.

Taxi in Sofia
09.07.13

My eyes opened to the synthesized sound of church bells from my iPhone. It was 6 am. After months of preparation, it was time to leave. Overwhelmed with an emotional cocktail of anticipation, hesitation, satisfaction, and regret, I began my journey to Bulgaria.

25 June 2013

Rat Race

Rat Race Serial Class Winners: 1. Michael
2. Josh 3. Nick 4. Brett 5. Eric 6. Dean
7. Hayden 8. Keiko 9. Nate 10. Jack
Photo credit: James Bradley
Landing at Donato's goal with Torsten Siegel
Photo credit: Don Fitch
Tall Stories
Retrieve Bus
Epic skyscape
Boom9
Goal at Longsword Vineyard
Our Sun sleeps
Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island

06 May 2013

The : Source




The Halkomelem name for the peak, Theeth-uhl-kay, means "the source" or "the place from which the waters spring." For the Sto:lo, the peak is the "mother mountain" or old woman overlooking her children dwelling in the valley. Lady Peak, to the south is the old woman's dog. Cheam, the official name of the peak, is the Halkomelem word for "wild strawberries."