Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lofty skies over California

Last weekend, Sept 13, the perfect set of weather conditions came to together for high lift over the coastal ranges of California. Seeing the pattern and forecast Friday evening, Wayne and I scrambled to find a driver and get organised last minute.
Friday was an above average good day, Saturday was off the charts! And Sunday's forecast was amazing too but I had obligations that day. Anyway off we went early Saturday morning to the nearest convergence site, San Carlos Peak. Wind was blowing gently straight in as forecasted.
There's a small hike to launch, but it doesn't take too long.

While we were setting up, the sky started to show us it was time to get up there. We never actually got to cloudbase but it was probably in the range of 14k. Launch is around 4700ft, but nice landings are quite a glide away, so until one hits 8500ft you never feel that comfortable.

Launch doesn't look at all familiar even from just a few hundred feet away. San Carlos peak is riddled with abandoned mines, Bentonite, Mercury and Asbestos at least.

Up over launch.

From there Wayne and I headed over the back [SW], towards Priest Valley. First time this route has been tried.

We both climbed out to 12k, although Wayne was long gone by the time my climb got me there. You can see the two close asbestos mines.

But we met strong 15mph head winds over Los Gatos creek Valley, Wayne made it to Centre peak and decided enough was enough, time to head north.

Plan B - north. Hmmm not many landing options that way. And a big weird blanket of cloud shadowing and building. By the time I was high enough I was pretty much back over launch.

I made it through the shade, and headed for the sun light over Pinnacles, Wayne hung out in buoyant air. I misread the cloud and found myself on the wrong side of a shear, and on the ground in 20mph NE wind. Dusty ! Wayne cruized north 23 miles to the Tres Pinos training hill in glassy smooth air! Where he landed in totally calm conditions.  Neat Day ! Wayne managed a 70 mile dog leg. The sunset was evidence of Virga, Mammatus and wave.
We heard stories of Pilots getting to 13k from Hull Mountain to the north and 14k from Pine Mountain to the south flying previously unflown routes.

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