July 8th, 2006

Route 1


The numbers:

4 hours 5 minutes

55.1 miles

Got to 16,300 ft with out oxygen.

Strongest lift on the averager 1,200 ft per minute.

The story:

This was the most amazing flight I have ever had or could ever hope to have. Repeat, this was mind boggilingly unreal. I shot a roll of professional slide film and regardless how they turn out there is no way they'll do the flight justice. Everyone last night, even those that just soared the mountain (a new H3 in our group Alex got 3 hours and hit 13,700 on a Horizon ET, Northwing's new curve tipped vg equiped Pulse). Two guys made it to Salmon for over 100 miles and almost half the crowd made it to the May airport for 65.5 miles. The smiles have yet to stop around here and I don't think they will for weeks if not lifetimes.

Anyway on with the flight. Ben, Alex and I decide to go to upper launch so that they can see a new launch and we think those on upper were having easier times the last couple days. Oh, and Ben's new cute little woman, Sharon, was going to be up there :-p We get set up and as always as soon as Shannon Raby is set up he barrels off and climbs right out. Winds were forecast for just L and V at altitude with high pressure and serious thermals all over the place and no clouds in the valley to mark them.

My dad helps me set up as dust devils rip through launch and people are launching as soon as they can. We hear on the radio that Wayne then Eric are both at 14-16k heading over Pass Creek the first real obstacle on the course. Bruce follows them shortly thereafter. I get off and again have a turn on my launch run to the right even though I picked a good windy cycle. I'm going to ask at the meeting here in a second if anyone can tell me what I did wrong so hopefully more on that shortly.

I go right out to the knob and start to climb with a couple other pilots who climb right through me. I'm not proud so I don't care. I get to 12.5k and again I'm having radio troubles. I can hear 100% and can squelch but I'm not transmitting voice :-\ So I spend the next 4 hours playing 20 Questions with Ben. "Dallas are you above Sunset Ridge? Click twice for yes." click click "Cool are you above 11k?" click click. So at 12.5k I leave the mountain for the first time after just loving the view over the back. I cross Rams Horn canyon pretty easily and find another little thermal at 10k that I work up over Sunset Ridge. Its hard to use the thermal because Sunset Ridge is just increadibly beautiful. I climb up to 14k with no drift and then head on glide. About half way down the ridge I climb up to 15k while constantly saying how beautiful this place is. When I get to Pass Creek I'm at about 14.5 and get down to 11k across it. Again I bumble into some lift and climb back up to 15.5. Heading down the range I get to see some of the most rugged and wild mountains in the world. I cruise by Mt. Borah (highest peak in Idaho at 12.6) at around 13. I get high enough to cross the little gap between Borah and the Pahsimerois. This is also called Victory Ridge or the Sonoma fellas call it the Ginsu Ridge as it is bright red and as sharp of a range of peaks as you could possibly imagine. Here I quickly find a climb under a cloud. The cloud convection (aka cloud suck) starts to rock and I hit 1,200 ft per minute flying straight and blow past 16k (just wanted to touch it, btw the valley floor is at ~5,500 so I'm a solid 2 MILES above the ground!) then stuff the bar on the Predator w/the vg off and punch out front of the cloud. I then cruise along those knife edges in smooth 200 ft/min convergence. As I get to the end of the range I hear Ben on the radio say that he's near a cloud and getting hailed on! I look back and see him in the same cloud I just left so I begin to laugh :-D The sound on his sail he says was quite musical and scary, not to mention the beating his face is taking so he's flying with his head turned.

When I get to the end of the ridge I knew that Wayne had gone out along the foothills and made it to Challis but I'm not sure where the road is out there and the foothills look too low to make any real lift so I head right over the back and cross another imbedded ridge that was just as red and ever so slightly less pointy. In the mountain valleys there's still snow and these lakes that are as blue and green as you could possibly imagine and so crystal clear you can see right down to the bottoms of them even from a couple thousand feet over them. The formations between Victory and the imbedded ridge make a fella want to try and land down there just to get a closer look. So I decide to go over the back and I go due East as I don't trust my ability to find a good lz if I was to quarter the glide and head directly for May. I don't find a peep as I fly over the back foothills and over a decent looking road toward what looks like a paved airport. I reach the airport at 7k and drift around a bit looking at the windsock which isn't even swaying. I see some writing in the middle of the airport and fly over it and see that it says "PRIVATE" which sparks my memory that we're not supposed to land there. So I burble back towards the good looking road and find a whisper of up air. I spend what seemed like 15-25 minutes burbling in 60-120ft/minute back to 9k so I head up towards the May airport where everyone else landed about 9 miles away. After topping out the burble I find 900 down. There are 3 cars flying down the road that I'm flying even with and thier dust isn't moving a bit but I drop a streamer anyway and watch it do nothing too. I set up to land right on the road and get turned just a bit left and land ever so slightly down hill. My legs aren't working so well but I have a real good flare and run it in for a no-whack landing!

Check the chrono on the vario and get my radio out and tell the chase crew that I'm on the ground. I get them my waypoint and hike the glider over to the road. Wow, wow wow. Eric and Bruce landed at May for 65.5 miles, Ben from 17,800 over Victory gets drilled and lands 2-3 miles short while Wanye in Challis went 70+ miles.

What a day! I'm so sore and tired but can't wait to head up and do it again today! YEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAW! I LOVE THIS GAME!