Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pyramid Power

Monday brought us a nice light northerly flow, as a surface ridge of high pressure backed off and allowed the trades a chance to start building back in. We also had a high cloudbase to start the day, which raised the prospect of riding the range from Kahana all the way to Makapuu.

(I shot some video footage of the day's flying and if I get a chance I'll post it here.)

By the time we reached Kualoa, however, it was clear that cloudbase had drooped everywhere, dampening our hopes of a long mission. But Mad Dog was determined to at least jump back to the pyramidal peak of Puu Ohulehule. That peak is the lynchpin connecting many cross country routes and we are making an effort to head back there more often lately. Thanks to Mad Dog for charging it, even though the clouds were low enough to brush the peak. As he ascended the pyramid, he radioed back that the lift was smooth and gentle, totally manageable, which was all I needed to hear. Jason was already on his way back, flying without a radio, but watching Mad Dog's easy climb back there.

From cloudbase at the pyramid's peak, Mad Dog then attempted a return leg to Kualoa, first directly in the lee of the Kualoa ridge, along a nice cloud street, then veering out to the Kaneohe side to try and push through the headwind of a pretty powerful venturi. He ended up getting flushed and landing at the ranch, and then Jason and I both tried our own lines to pull it off. Neither of us made it: I tried a wider line, but I slowly inched my way down to a forbidden landing at the park, and Jason's line rewarded him with a rodeo ride down through the rotor into the lowlands near the fishpond. In hindsight, the better line for all of us would have been through Kaaawa Valley, but at the time the clouds were lower in that valley and quite dark.

Thanks to Sylvain and Aurelia for the retrieve!

As we were folding up, Thom finally pulled into sight above Kualoa, having fought patiently at every point to stay in the game. Kaaawa Larry also flew at Kahana, as did Jason's buddy Matt from Alaska and a visiting couple from Japan.

I heard later that lots of folks also flew in a fresher northerly flow at Makapuu: Brent, Woody, Maui Doug, Jorge, Roland, Frank, Tommy RD, 5-0, and possibly others.


Mad Dog said...

Fun Day!
I knew the route through Kaaawa Valley was the winning route as we have done that many times, but the BIG Dark monster of a vacuum cleaner was trailing of the front Kualoa peak & daring you to cross it in the middle of Kaaawa valley & get sucked up into the heavens! Too scary.
I've only completed it back one other time on the front Kualoa ridge & wanted to try the harder safer route, made the side lower ridge but it had to be in the rotor & gave up 30 seconds after pulling in on that devilish rodeo ride. We'll try again!

Thom said...

Lowest save I ever had. Went from hidden valley to Kaaawa ridge with only a 1K. Arrived at Kaaawa sank to 500'. I could see the kids at the school and was pretty much planning on joining them but scratched back up a foot at a time till I could cross over to Kualoa. From Kualoa I could see Mad Dog below me and Alex at Kualoa Park. I decided not to attempt Pyramid due to the clouds getting lower and the best of the best were already dirted out. I returned back to KNA.

Fun scratcher of a flight.