Sunday, March 28, 2010

EPIC tale from the past

This week we are in Breckenridge, Colorado. Today was a beautiful day, and as I looked back over my shoulder during our ride up the lift, I caught a glimpse that immediately took me back to a day almost ten years ago.

It was a warm summer afternoon and there was little wind and no clouds. The day before we had explored a new launch just behind my brothers house and this day I was ready. The wind was light to 40,000 feet and the others had heard of my flight to 18,000 feet the day before and were ready to join in. We loaded in the truck and arrived on launch about 4pm hoping were all hoping to repeat yesterdays flight.

After launching I had to search for a little while but right out front above a large rocky face I caught the thermal of all times. It was huge and smooth and I turned and turned until I had to switch directions because my right ear was frozen, I then turned the other direction till my left ear was frozen. As I switched directions for the third time my vario crossed 18,000 feet. I was still climbing smoothly and had no intention of stopping; after climbing for another few minutes my vario showed 20,000 for a split second then OU, over range!! Still climbing in the sky with no idea of how high I was I was beginning to wonder if my O2 system which was supposed to work up to 18,000 would keep me alive if I kept climbing.

I didn't have to wonder for long the thermal petered out and I set out across the valley. I reestablised on the far side over the ski area and headed north down the range, climbing several more times before reaching Frisco. I crossed the town and flew over the dam searching for lift on the other side of the valley, to no avail. I landed in a strong valley wind at the edge of a small pond. Views of the Rockies from the heights and locations on that flight have faded over the years but the emotions of the flight remain as strong as ever. THIS IS WHY I FLY!

The photo with the chairlift is of Baldy and we launched on the shoulder just to the left of the peak. The photo at the top of the post is of the range that was flown. When I crossed the valley I was at the peak the furthest to the left and flew left to right. Frisco is below the last peak on the right. I made a map of the flight here


firedave said...

That was an epic flight that I didn't even know about. It was before my flying years.

We should try to make it a point to have a few more epic flights, before we are done with this flying thing, or it is done with us.

Thom said...

Wow, I would love to be able to do that someday but the cold and freezing ears....ouch. Your XC dwarfs our little Bay Crossings. Thanks for the read and hope to catch up to you.....ah....trail you soon.

Anonymous said...

nice one Doug.
those pics bring some memories to me as well ... i spent 2 years as a ski patroller in Keystone, looking at those peaks every day. that was before 1999 ( year i moved to JH ), long before i started flying, but it's good to know it works there.
hope you're enjoying life on the Mainland buddy.
come see me in Nepal in the winter or The Alps in the summer for some more epics :)
aloha everyone !
czech peter