Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shirt Sleeve Hiking

At this time of year, a good day is very warm in the sun and absolutely freezing in the shade. From a clothing perspective, layers is the name of the game - you can spend a lot of time adding or removing them.

Today was glorious, with almost no wind, and I was on a ridge almost all day. No shade so shirt sleeves were the order of the day until the sun started to set. Absolutely beautiful - a great way to end the year (I'll be away for the next few days).

A few pics.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Xmas Thermals

The last 2 or 3 weeks in St Andre have been cold, sunny, clear, dry and windy. There's still very little snow - even on the higher peaks - and things aren't predicted to change in the next week. I've been doing quite a bit of hiking and some hike on flies in the less windy days. When the weather is this nice, winter is very bearable and Xmas has almost sneaked up on me.

I'll be away for the New Year but I was glad to sneak a flight today. Little sharp-edged thermal bubbles were good for a hundred meters or so above launch. I didn't fly for very long, but it was nice to turn in some circles and admire the scenery. The Xmas duck is in the oven bubbling nicely now.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Practice Day...

You don't really expect decent flying just before the winter solstice. But today's forecast looked very promising and I had hopes of a mini-XC. The one caveat was the possibility of high cloud - even in St Andre, that's asking a lot of a December sun.

As I hiked up, cloud cover increased. There was no wind at all until the last 50m to launch. Launch was very cold and deserted, with a brisk south wind. There was at least 7/8 cloud cover (cloud base was about 400m over launch)  and it seemed like a sled ride was the best the day had to offer. 

It was too cold to hang around, so I wolfed down my lunch and got ready. I flew off the S side and found just enough bubbles to maintain. I persevered, hoping the sun would break through and transform the flying. I gradually worked up to 100m above launch but no more. The flying was entertaining, but - without the sun - it was impossible to go anywhere. 

I was pretty cold - another problem when there's no sun - and landed just short of an hour. A little disappointing, but good practice for better days...  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fall and Winter Hiking in One Day

Saturday was a hiking day and I headed to La Garde to climb a mountain, les Quatre Termes. This time last year St Andre was under snow, but there is very little snow this year. This is unlikely to last, so it makes sense to climb these peaks when you can. The hike was as I expected - cold, blue skies, invigorating, lovely views - with two notable things.

The first was the weather. The hike started at 900m and the weather was fall-like, lovely for hiking. Conditions were very stable, and at around 1400m I crossed the boundary layer. Suddenly I was into a strong meteo wind and in much lower temperatures; from fall to winter in a 100m. For that point on, I wore all my layers and kept moving until I got back below the boundary layer on the way down.

And, as a complete surprise, I met some horses. I popped up from a steep slope and there they were, just below the summit, near a shepherd's summer cabin. They looked cold and miserable. There were 8 of them, I divided my apple in 8 and tried to share it equally between them. But they didn't form an orderly queue (well, they are french horses, after all...).