Our 8 hours cross country...
From Fab's point of view
Here is a flight from last Friday, where I guided my friends in the different mountains. A long day of flying and discovery for them, a beautiful day of contemplative flying for me.
I don’t know what to write about this magnificent flight, the conditions were perfect: no wind, beautiful cumulus clouds, white snow on the summits, sunshine all day long, the kind of flight that reminds me why I love it so much.
An important dimension is the sharing with the friends, I guide them to discover a grandiose space, a trip out of time, between the snow, the high plateau, the glaciers, the different ski resorts of the Haute Savoie, the massifs (Bauges, Beaufortin, Bornes, Mont Blanc, Chablais Aravis) and the lakes (Leman and Annecy, Passy).
We shared the flight with the bearded vultures, and observed the chamois in the grassy slopes.
A flight of almost 8 hours and thousands of images and sensations to feed me with this enjoyment for a few months!
From the point of view of friends
The evening before, although I was always happy to spend time under my wing with my friends, tiredness had left me with little energy to decipher the conditions announced in the high mountains. JB and I suggested we take off from the Col du Fer above Marlens, with the ambition of discovering the Beaufortain, but without really knowing how to go about it. A message from Fab later, indicating that he was motivated to accompany us in this direction, and here we are, the 4 of us, on our way to a nice little project with our paragliders. Reinvigorated by a good night, I join Fab who finishes giving me a boost. After picking up Tony and JB, we drop a car at the Marlens landing where the atmosphere is electric. We meet Charles, Johanna, Jojo and François among other experienced pilots. Good news, we are in the right place for take-off.
The short climb to the Iron Pass is a wake-up call for my muscles and I particularly appreciate these short approaches, which make my body available for the flight.
After a few minutes of preparation, Fab and Tony take off, and we follow with JB. After a few minutes of preparation, Fab and Tony take off, and we follow with JB, and we arrive at the ceiling at Le Charvin, where we meet up with the pilots we met earlier. Fab, Tony and Juju have had time to do a mini race and are having fun between the small cumulus clouds while waiting for us.
I try to make the ceiling and leave the Charvin’s barbules in the direction of Les Saisies with the first sails completing their transition. I am much more tense and concentrated than this transition requires, but I am afraid to land so early in the day.
I hang up in Les Saisies with Fabien and Tony. Fabien literally drops us off in the thermal and I try not to let Tony out of my sight until we reach the cloud. JB joins us and we head towards Mont Blanc, in this magnificent and well-lit contrast between snow and dry pastures. I’m winding up more than I should, but I’m taking advantage of each thermal turn to imprint the landscape around me. I still haven’t got used to the view of our mountains from the sky and I hope I never will, because they amaze me every time.
After a crossing towards the Col du Joly marked by the cumulus clouds and our 4 star guides Fab and Tony, we turn north towards Saint Gervais. Tony leaves us to head for the Aravis as he is expected at home.
When we arrived off-cycle on the heights of Megève, we waited several minutes without finding anything convincing. Fab then suggested we take a look south of the Prarion. We hang up in the trees a chopped thermal under the wind. While we fight with JB, Fab, who demonstrates his efficiency in thermals, takes a little ride towards the Col du Tricot at 3000m.
We finally get out in a powerful thermal above Prarion and head towards Passy. JB, who has the talent to feel the lines which carry, floats well and indicates to me with the hang-up a splendid thermal which catapults us above the needle of Varan. The passage between snow and Cumulus at the head of the Coloney is splendid.
We do a few laps in thermals above Flaine and apply ourselves in Samoens before a long transition and a technical hang up at the doors of the Chablais. Fab tries an option on the small ridge on the left without success and we all 3 fall back on the Bourgeoise, which channels a nice breeze and a powerful thermal.
It is at this moment that my 2 companions escape. The fatigue which starts to be felt and a still imperfect technique in thermal have reason of my effectiveness. I see the 2 wings above me drift away in the direction of Mieussy while I’m looking for a thermal.
The next hour is a real battle. After having missed the confluence used by JB and Fab in the direction of Mieussy, I take refuge in a small coomb under the wind at the point of Marcelly which makes me live a nice rodeo while crashing me a little more towards the ground. I look closer and closer at each field for a possible cow, and try to force my way into the wind. At the last moment I find a breeze along the trees, concentrate on the first 300 meters still turbulent knowing to roll up a thermal which miraculously comes out above the Frête de la Penaille. The horizon is getting bigger, the trip can resume. Fab took the way back towards the Aravis and JB offers me the keys to the transition between Mieussy and Le Mole by the Brasses plain on the radio. After 4 cycles of patient waiting at Le Mole, JB is also on his way back when I arrive. I don’t manage to make the ceiling but at the end of the cycle and as the day progresses, I decide to make the transition to the Pointe d’Andey.
After a low but rather efficient hang-up, I struggle to get over the ridge and feel the fatigue taking over for a few minutes. I end up yelling at myself (a very personal motivation technique :p) before regaining some serenity, necessary for the rest of the flight. It’s 6pm, the sun is declining but the air mass remains very active. I try to play the efficiency card and glide along the west faces without winding up too much. I let myself drift in a thermal in front of the Aiguille Verte and transit towards the west face of the Lachat de Thônes. The dynamic support works well and I decide not to roll up anything and pass the Buffaz pass in Fosbury. I apply myself in a mild thermal at the end of the day at Lachat de Thônes while enjoying the beautiful lights around me and head towards Cotagne.
I cross my fingers that the dynamic support still works and two wings playing at La Tournette give me good hope to find a last saving thermal, which will allow me to transit on the south face of La Tournette towards Marlens.
I appreciate this warm air mass that carries me gently towards Tournette before transiting towards the Col des Nantets. The final glide along the south face of Tournette is the final touch to a magical day, I meet some guns who are finishing big triangles and I’m very happy to see Fab who had time to go for a ride in the Bauges and then JB at the landing.
Thanks guys for this trip in wonderful landscapes, for these cavalcades between the cumulus and for your patience when I dragged my feet. Thanks to AD for following me and for making a Soar in XXS that flies like a rocket, and thanks to the paraglider for making me rediscover this garden that I travelled through as a kid, by the paths and that I rediscovered in wonder from the sky.