Tuesday, January 03, 2012

West Ka'ena Expedition 2012

An expedition to the remote west face of Ka'ena point on the New Years day holiday was just the adventure I needed to start the new year. The chance to find and clear a new launch and soar the west face of the point was something we will all remember for a long time. The fuel for the fire of exploration is still burning inside me as I head to work and back to my weekday life. To all who joined in the epic journey to the most remote coastal site on our island, I have a new found sense of our strong and supportive community. It is contagious in the best way possible, contagious support for all. I will provide my brief account of events and expect others to contribute stories and anecdotes of the day.

Conditions upon arrival at the Dillingham climbing wall launch were very strange with rushes of wind coming from the northeast then a lull then wind coming from the west then a minute later wind coming down the hill and blowing offshore. As Alex, Jim, Frank, and I sat watching the conditions thinking that they would sort our by 12 we studied the clouds moving from the west and coming over the back slowly and then converging and moving up the range towards Waialua. This indicated that we needed to get around to the west side of Ka'ena point to get onto the windward side of the seabreeze that had developed. The four of us decided to head out and around the point, and my 2wd toyota was loaded and ready at which point Chili showed up with his much more capable and roomy Ford F150 4x4 that could fit 7 people in air conditioned comfort so we took him up on his offer for a ride to the gate at the preserve.

As the five of us started the trek around the point we began to feel wind at 90deg to the hill at 5-10 mph. We anticipated that if we were able to continue around the point we would be able to find a location where the wind was blowing up the hill at a better angle. As we rounded the point Jim and I decided to take a high line to a bowl that I suspected faced into the wind and was located at a thermal trigger point formed by a large formation of black rocks. There was no trail to get there but with terrain similar to Nanakuli I knew we could make it. Liking the wind that I was feeling on the steep slope I searched for a relatively clear area without too many hale koa trees to clear. In the blazing sun the trees were cleared and the launch took shape. When Jim arrived at launch with a saw I was able to double my efficiency in clearing the stubborn remaining trees that I could not get by hand. The launch was ready, now to launch?

By the time the launch was cleared of course the wind had backed off to <5-mph. Was I going to be able to stay up in the light sea breeze, were there thermals that would carry me high into the clouds, did I want to stay below the radar so that I would not be fried? These were all questions that I would answer shortly. I laid out the wing and had it fall down the hill once before making a successful launch for what I am told is the first recorded launch by the Flying Monkeys at this site (speed fliers have flow this site before). The conditions were great in the air, I spent my time skimming along the grassy hills searching for thermals to pop me up above launch. My first 10 passes were just below launch height before finding some lift and climbing above launch. It was great to hear my friends on the radio as I was trying to solve the puzzle. Flew for about 25-minutes before losing altitude and landing on the road below. The landing site was easy and large and never seemed to be a problem.

Packing up from the flight I was definitely dehydrated and went in search of water. Duck was clear at the point with 2 liters of water so I headed his way knowing that I would likely be able to get a ride out on his 4x4 truck. Shortly after re-hydrating Alex launched with all of the grace and wisdom his experience provides and beautifully soared with the Albitroses thermaling above the sea cliffs just above the bird sanctuary. I was truly grateful see his approach to flying the site and how he made it look so natural. Great flight Alex, am continuing to learn from you every time.

Just prior to our TFR closure at 5pm Alex top landed next to Chili and Frank. 1I decided to hike down because of a faulty radio, and Duck, Amber, Ginger, and I watched whales breech from the point. After all were safe back on the ground we meet up with 1I to walk back to the trucks and take the bumpy ride back out the dirt road. As sunset fell we all reflected on the days events and at the beauty of Ka'ena in the evening time.

Others can feel free to add pictures or videos to this post. The picture of the cleared launch is all I had on my camera.

P.S - Also, want to apologize to 1I for hitting him with a branch when clearing the launch when I was working like a bat out of hell. Sorry dude.

Launch Location: 21 34.332 N 158 16.292 W (provided by Jim Simmons)
Landing Location: Road below launch offers the best landing zone

1 comment:

Thom said...

Great Job AllanC.

Another launch in the most remote area of the island.

You and Alex I guess scored the only 2012 flights or did Chili and Frank huck off too?

This log is all us old guys will have some day and to have some young writers to keep the torch is awesome.

Keep flying and keep inking it in here.

Let's get 2012 off to a good start. 2011 was such a record year, it will be tough to beat.