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Peter Lake's 2017 Flblog
#1

4 Feb Fan G.
After a few pleasant soaring flights so far this year at Abernant and Fan G, the forecast suggested it was worth swapping back to my 'proper' wing from my Skin P for the hike up Fan G through the snow in brilliant winter sunshine.
Sure enough, the clouds were lining up out front, and the wind was a steady SW on take-off. On taking off, the wind was top-end, with moments of minimal ground speed, and bumpy bits coming through. Clouds were streeting to the East and West, just out of reach. Patience was eventually rewarded, and I climbed up to nearly 3000ft over the trig point. As I cleared the North bowl, the lift disappeared. I was now committed, so I figured I'd see if I could make it to Sennibridge. The 2nd thermal proved elusive as I took a fast downwind glide following the road, landing in a long-grassed field, which turned out to be holding about 4" of water. With saturated wet feet, I found a small island to pack up the glider, and squelched the 5km back up the road to the lay-by and the car.
A fun 50 minute 5km hop-over-the-back. The season is warming up!
#2

2 April 2107. Fan G. 
A bit of a late start getting up to Fan G, and I thought I'd missed the boat as I hiked up to the summit, only to find the parawaiting group further along the ridge.
Nick, Rhun and Jon showed that it was almost working as I sorted out my kit. A great looking cloud was slowly drifting towards take-off, and I timed my launch with some judgement and much luck, and flew straight out to the cloud on an all-or-nothing glide. Sensing all the eyes on the hill watching me, I was glad to head the friendly bip of my vario as I contacted the climb under the cloud, and started on my ride up the magic elevator. Seeing Nick join the climb nearer the hill, I connected with his stronger core to be propelled to cloudbase. Give the size of the cloud, I set off upwind a few hundred feet below base, to join the fluffy dots in the sky over to the North of the Lyn-y-Fan lakes. When the clouds ran out, I was faced with a big blue glide to the ground, so turned around back to where Nick was climbing, and boomed back up to base and briefly into the wispies.
Now with thoughts of a triangle, I set off South towards Dan-yr-Ogof where the clouds looked to be developing well. As I approached, it became evident that the big cloud was decaying, and had shaded the ground for long enough to shut off thermic activity. With few options left, I headed back towards take-off, in the hope of a last save, but landed by the old railway track, just 1.5km short of take-off (and 1000ft lower).
Amazing views of the hills and lakes today, with strong 3m/s climbs up to 5000ft, and 25km to boot!
#3

7 April 2017. Fan G.
I managed to escape at 2pm and went to hike up Fan G. I was pleasantly surprised to find a good SW breeze on take-off, with a blue sky and haze.
On taking off, there were plenty of thermic bubbles, though it was tricky to hook into them. After one climb and return, I found myself low on the W face, with a feeling that there was something going up just in front of the ridge. Sure enough, I was soon climbing up in the slightly delayed 4pm thermal and drifting over the trig point. After I passed the point of no return over the N bowl at 3000ft, I found zeroes to drift me over to Heol Senni. I then chose to try to follow the higher ground to the West of the main road, but didn't connect with anything significant.
After a smooth landing in a field near the road, I was picked up by a passing couple in a van within 5 minutes of setting up camp with my trust 'Paraglider Pilot' sign, and whisked back to the car in the lay-by.
A bonus 11.5km weekday flight.
#4

22 April. BCC round 2. Hundred House. 
Arriving at the campsite to see enough SWWSC pilot for 2 teams, we tucked into our bacon bagels and enjoyed the rucksack-free walk up the hill.
The high cloud gradually faded away, to leave blue skies, and a good Northerly breeze enticing the first pilots into the air.
The first gaggle climbed out, then most returned to the hill. On the next cycle, I took to the skies along with many of the other competitors. After a while scratching, I connected with a good thermal and climbed out in a gaggle of around 6 pilots. We were joined by pilots from all directions, and soon I joined up with Nick and we pushed forward and got up and away.
The flight South was a game of patience, with slow climbs, made easier by gaggle of 4-8 marking each thermal. Nick and I were flying together and making good progress towards Pen-y-Fan. As we approached the Beacons, I was somewhat distracted by the discomfort arising from a malfunctioning pee tube, and I found myself soaring the North faces of the Beacons, watching as Nick climbed out from a more Easterly spur. Eventually I pushed round to the same spur, and caught a stonking climb up to a cloud at 5,700ft. From here, it was blue sky solo flying, as I topped up on thermals trickling off the windward slopes of the Valleys. I caught my final climb over an old gravel pit, which gave me plenty of height to glide out beyond the point at Portcawl, and land in a surprisingly strong breeze on the car park.
A well earned ice cream on the beach was followed by a bus ride to Bridgend, a train to Neath which Nick happened to be on, and a lift back home from Mike. I'll fetch the car on Sunday!
4.5 hours of patient flying, 89km with turnpoints, 81.8km open distance for BCC points.
#5

23 April 2017. Merthyr Common BCC 
The day started overcast, but the sun soon started shining through and the first pilots took to the air. I followed suit and pushed forward to where some birds were climbing, and looked back to the hill to see Nick, Aaron, Steve and Rhun also climbing well. After a short trip to the white room, we headed downwind, but the promising clouds did not deliver any significant lift. I headed for 2 other gliders who were climbing slowly beyond Cwm, but I couldn't stay up. A final glide over a reservoir North of Abertillery saw me scratching on the hillside for a few minutes until gravity won and I landed by the side of the road in the valley bottom.
A walk down into Abertillery was rewarded with a bus ride with Steve W to Bleanavon, where we got a taxi most of the way back to take-off.
A fun 19km in just over an hour and a great BCC team day out.
#6

7 May 2017. Hundred House BCC 
Another promising looking forecast saw us at Hundred House, waiting for the day to start. In my keenness, I took off and flew out over the valley to join a couple of climbing birds. However, I couldn't quite make it work, so slope landed and trudged back up the hill.
My second attempt was a little more successful, but again I found myself picking a landing spot between the bracken on the slope, with another walk up- this time warmer than the last in my 2 down jackets.
Once I was set up again on take-off, I saw Nick and many other pilots climbing well, so I took off and joined them in the climb. Nick and I climbed together and drifted SW with a growing gaggle of pilots. I then took a more southerly line, then decided to follow Nick on his plummet to Heol Senni. Despite signs of lift above HS, I couldn't connect with any climbs, and found myself doing a rather inelegant downwind landing into the bushes.
After packing up, Viv turned up with my car and we made it back home. Thanks for the retrieve Viv!
Another grand BCC day out and 39km with 2.5 hours of flying
#7

8 May 2017. Helo Senni 
A rather windy day on HS. Launching in a lull and rocketing skywards, I thermalled back towards Fan G. However the string drift at height made me not want to get blown back over Fan G, or to ride the washing machine cycle down the valley, so I turned and landed near the road and walked back to the car.
#8

9 May 2017. Heol Senni 
Arriving to see Mr and Mrs Binksy climbing over take-off, I wasted no time to get up the hill and into the air. We then spent the next hour trying to connect with decent climbs, with Anna showing the way. I eventually climbed up to 3,000 ft with Aaron and decided this was the right time to go for it. A small top-up over the forest and then a good climb in front of Fan G saw me heading down the Swansea valley. The Penwyllt quarries were surprisingly non-active, so I headed over the felled forest where I caught a low save. Heading towards Coelbren, I found a decent climb, then seeing a plastic shopping bag rocketing skywards next to me, I hooked into a bullet of thermal up to base at 4,600ft.
The clouds were looking best over the Black Mountain, with signs of the sea breeze further South. A committed glide into the boonies was rewarded with a climb back up to the sea breeze front, from where I took a buoyant line above the sea breeze cloudbase until I drifted into the sea air. After perfect landing on the center spot of the football pitch at Glanamon, Aaron headed over to retrieve me and take me back to take-off via his house– Thanks Aaron.
A fascinating flight with shopping bags, birds and sea breeze – 36km and 3 hours
#9

10 May 2017. Ffarmers 
Nick rang me to let me know that he and Chris were heading over to Ffarmers to make the most of the light wind day, so we all headed off together for my first trip to the new hill.
On arrival, the breeze was surprisingly strong, and I was volunteered as wind dummy at midday. I managed a couple of climbs to approx 300ft above take-off, before the lift switched off and I found myself packing up my wing in the bottom landing field.
Back on take-off we saw the first decent climb from a red kite, and Nick took to the air and climbed out above take off. Chris followed suit, but then top-landed as the lift switched off again. Conditions then became quite tricky on take-off, and after a few wrestles with the wing, I was in the air again and pushing out to the 3 birds climbing in front of take-off.
As I climbed up, I was joined by Chris and we slowly gained height up to 3000ft, when I then pushed forward over the valley. Connecting with a better climb, I then saw Nick to the SE returning from his into-wind leg, and Chris climbing well to the NW, and we all pushed North over the high ground, staying inland of the wispy sea-breeze clouds.
I joined Nick in the next thermal, as Chris set-off into the sea breeze. We then had a lovely time boating around in the sea breeze convergence area – lift was abundant, and we able to fly around the wispy sea breeze tendrils. I then connected with a booming climb up to 5,600ft, and decided to push East as Nick returned to take-off to complete his triangle.
As the sea breeze pushed inland, I seemed to stay with the good lift, climbing in the dry air up into the convergence clouds then pushing East in front. Eventually, heading over the Llyn Brianne Reservoir, I hit a big area of sink, which combined with the headwind saw me on the ground next to the Tywi Forest.
Thinking I would have to get to civilization for a retrieve, I started hiking the 7km towards Llanwrtyd Wells, until a wisp of phone signal allowed me to talk to Chris who offered to come and pick me up.
After a walk back down the track to nearest road, I was just dozing off in the late afternoon sun, when I heard my car come over the hill with Nick driving having picked up Chris. Thanks for the retrieve Nick!
Another great day flying around beautiful Welsh countryside – 27km and nearly 3 hours' airtime
#10

Oetztal Valley, Austria. 3-16 August 2017.
A beautiful valley in the Austrian Tyrol, where we had a 2 week family holiday, and I managed to squeeze in some fantastic flying. We were based in Hueben, in the middle of the valley. There is a regular bus service up and down the valley, with summer chairlifts serving E and SW facing take-offs, and easy retrieves from anywhere in the valley.
4 Aug- As rain and storms were forecast, I went for a pre-dawn hike up 3,500ft from the campsite, seeing the early sun hit the E faces across the valley. A fly down on the Skin P as the sun was starting to hit the valley saw me back to the campsite in time for 2nd breakfast.
7 Aug- A 2 hour hike up to Wetterkreuzkoegel from the Hochoetz lift saw difficult launching conditions, and a stable blue day. An extended flight down with an explore of the valley to the South.
8 Aug- An easier 10 minute walk from the Hochoetz lift. The first decent thermals of the trip got me over take-off for a pleasant boat around for an hour and a landing in time for a family trip to the swimming pool.
13 Aug- An early ride up to the SE facing Hochsoelden lift, followed by a 1.5 hour family hike. Taking off towards where the birds had been climbing, I couldn't find any lift, so I headed round to some crags, where I scratched up until I got spanked by the wind coming round the corner, and flew down to Soelden with my tail between my legs.
A bus trip and another lift later, I was at the Hochoetz take-off as the day was starting to cook. A great flight South down the valley, with a landing next to the campsite in Hueben, as the clouds were starting to look threatening.
14 Aug- Back to Hochsoelden. A peak bagging flight up the valley to Soelden, where I turned round due to growing clouds, and landed back in Hueben for a 39km turnpoint flight
15 Aug- A blue sky morning, with the first clouds appearing over the summits mid morning. Taking off from Hochoetz around 1pm, I soon climbed up to 12,500 ft and headed South along the ridge. Classic conditions saw me flying the ridgeline past Soelden, and towards Obergurgl. Hoping to fly into the valleys beyond Obergurgl, I was flushed down the hill by a wind coming over the back from Italy. I slowly scratched back up the East face of the valley, and managed to reconnect with the ridge at Soelden. A booming line took me back over 1 mile above the landing field below take-off, ready to join the family at the swimming pool. I then checked my phone to see they had already headed back to the campsite, so I turned round and straight-lined the 20km back to the campsite, with my vario making noises I haven't heard for years. I landed next to the campsite after 5 hours in the air and a 99.6km turnpoint flight, 76km out and return (If only I'd flown another 400m before spiralling off 4000ft!)
11.5 hours total flying - this area has great potential, especially for those prepared to leave the main valley- but is full-on mountain flying with valley winds and strong thermals.


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