Archive for the ‘Mountain days’ Category

Glenshee Chairlift (7 days/week) opens for Mtn Bikes

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Based on press reports (I’ve not yet visited/spoken with them) Glenshee are now, subject to the weather (wind limits I guess) open 7 days a week with the Cairnwell Chair for Mountain Biking. 

The ski centers website currently has limited info. but as of the end of July 2010, quotes a full day (up to 4:30) adult up-lift (with bike) of £15.

 In the past the center has opened on one off’s like the 1997(or perhaps ‘98?) HG event I took photographs of, and more recently Glenshee has started limited summer opening for walkers (and of course paragliding), so the development of Mtn. Biking looks to give a boost to mountain thermal training and mountain XC flying in Scotland.

 This last couple of years a number of the pilots who have/currently fly with ESP club have done (or come close to!) record distance flights and I can see use of the up-lift at Glenshee increasing this type of flying, with car sharing giving the chance of a couple of ‘bites at the cherry’ in the same day!

Addressing Joe’s comments

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Quote: Full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors. Advice heard by no-one but the head-honcho himself.

Murray: During the day when necessary pilots were advised as to the issues both with the surface (exposed rocks) and the location of hazards (buildings/radio mast) in addition to the need to avoid the almost flat top area once the wind started picking up towards the end of the day. Are other posts/comments “full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors?” Or do they simply mention in addition to the fantastic smooth and mellow flying the occasions when some lines were damaged and a pilot was dragged, in both cases due to location.

 Regarding ‘broken lines’ (as apposed to damaged outers) this was my understanding based on Joe’s comments made later as to “a few lines needing replaced”when he got in touch for my advice as to the best supplier of replacment line (Mike at The Loft).

Quote: Unseen maps and weather info.

Murray: Both were available at the pickup (on the hill top) and a number of the pilots in fact had their copy of the map in their harness/flying suit. NB. It is rare that we are out on the hills and I do not have printed weather information to hand in addition to the mobile internet access for updating the information.

Quote: Saving a pilot by talking him down on the radio.

Murray: Nairn (ex-BHPA student) has been flying and training with me for four months and has considerably more flight time and experience than many BHPA CP’s with several years in the sport, regarding this day it was only on the last flight, due to it’s new nature (first time ‘over the back’) and freshening conditions that he, as we had discussed was now flying with a radio as a back up should there be any problems with the mix of air we expected to find over the landing area. I would guess that Joe’s comments regarding Nair’s last flight may have been otherwise phrased if he had been more aware of the amount of training already undertaken. Nairn has a few ‘intresting’ stories about a certain Scottish BHPA school, familiar to Joe, his comments on their safety standards tend to match what I have heard from others including Joe….

Quote: Alas poor Iain however was not so lucky. He did indeed fall victim to a short scoot across the top of the hill. Granted, that part of the day is actually true. True, but not the full story. Unfortunately, because his ability sometimes takes a good kicking from his confidence, he does occasionally ask for a little assistance in high winds. Nothing wrong with that. Is there?

Murray: Joe asks the question on assistance, “Nothing wrong with that. Is there?” the fact remains that in the majority of cases “assistance” will in fact lead to the addition of extra “forth force” (or thrust) to the aircraft and as a result greatly increases the dynamic problems a pilot faces, human nature makes those near a pilot being dragged reach for the pilot/harness rather that assist by killing the wing.

This type of situation is of an even greater potential risk when the surface is snow or sand, a point I keep highlighting in safety training and had specifically covered that day.

Quote: On a more serious note, what I do wonder is, why every single person who did launch on Sunday suffered at least 1 big collapse?

Murray: Clearly I can not comment on Joe’s statement about “every single person” other than wonder why, if it is true, the individuals concerned did not mention this to me then or when speaking personally or on the phone subsequently when arranging this weekends training/flying, only Ian Archer on being specificaly asked (he was back up the hill in the landrover when I had landed so I only spoke to him today) said that he had encountered a number of collapses, he also commented that he would have no problem flying the same flight again in the future.

To the best of my knowledge both Alan & Duncan, who had decided to fly around via the north side encountered some minor ‘mixed air’, just as they expected, both are experienced pilots Duncan having re-trained back in 2003 and Alan over the last year. The ‘mixed air’ i belive was while over/near the wood at the back of the hill but based on comments to me nothing that caused any concerns to them. Chatting to Duncan Thursday, while aranging this coming weekends meet, he stated he in fact did not have any collapses… and with less lift at the time had landed on the east side rather than ‘over the back’. 

Quote: On an even more serious note (For those that haven’t been paying attention, that’s two serious notes in one article. One more and it’s called a rant) there does seem to be a difference of opinions as to the cause of the problems. Call it what you will, rotor, wave, wind-shear, whatever. There were definite wave patterns over the cairngorms. I definitely saw 2 pilots being forced down in their initial attempts to get over the back. Yes, there was a lot less wind in the valley than higher up on the ridge. That tends to be a major feature of being in the lee-side of the hill. Personally, I reckon there were indications of all three. But, what do I know? Air-detectives make your own mind up.

Murray: The area of rough air high over the landing area was a result of the mix of two masses of air, the valley air up to a couple of hundred feet above ground level was almost calm as indicated by smoke drift houses at Balintuim, above this the pressure wind was from the NW at about 10-15kts just as the forecast had indicated to expect towards the end of the flying day, on a personal level cutting low as I did I encountered exactly the conditions I would normally expect in these conditions/situations with the predictable results on a DHV 2/3 wing, modified or not! It is worth also mentioning that (I was the last pilot to launch) the wind late in the day at ground level was not “gusty” (at take off) rather simply a steady 15kts.

NB. At no time was there any indication of wave below and in the lee of Morone, from ten years experiance flying in these sorts of conditions/locations I would not expect either wave that low, nor rotor from such a smooth rounded ground shape.

Quote: Also, I wouldn’t imagine for a minute that ‘ he who wants to be obeyed’ would intentionally put anyone in harms way. However, the decision to allow a very low airtime pilot with less than a months experience……

Murray: I get BHPA ‘trained’ pilots coming to me with less than 5 hours airtime (often over several years) and they are regarded by the BHPA as “qualified”… while Nair (ex-BHPA) in FOUR months training and flying with me has flown on 15 days and is probably on about 30 hours airtime so far.

Quote: When you consider that trying to teach a beginner how to do big-ears via the radio is hard enough but to do so in such extreme turbulence and rapidly failing daylight and then have them attempt steep 360 degree turns with big-ears pulled in to get down, it really does call into question ones sanity.

Murray: It would do if that was in fact the case, as it happens it was not, I don’t know where Joe gets “steep 360 turns” from when in fact Nairn was doing 360’s and at times simple turn reversals, simply to remain over the same general area while descending in Big Ears, once he was below the lift from the ridge on the east side of the valley and into the near calm air it was a simple straight ‘no wind’ glide across the valley, passing with plenty of clearance over the river (to save the walk) to land next to me.

NB. as indicated by the shape of his path over the ground and down/into wind ground speed (during 360* turns) the wind speed Nairn was in was about 10kts while over the valley at height. 

Quote: Although, despite appearances to the contrary, we are NOT actually paid up card carrying members of the ESPC club, Iain and I have always been happy to meet up when invited and have had many a good day with some of the guys in the club. After this post, I doubt that it will be happening again any time in the near future.

Murray: I seen no reason why Joe & Ian would not be invited many more times in the future should they wish, both are safe in the air and are good company on the ground, the only concerns I ever have, have always regarding ground handling/layout & launch choices, exactly as I stated in my comment to Duncan’s post and in my own post.

Quote: However, it is hoped for the sake of safety, especially the fee paying publics’, that lessons from the day will be taken on board. Murray is a good instructor when he sticks to what he knows. As I’ve always said, ‘if you want to develop your ground handling Murray’s yer man.’ For everything else you have to make your own mind up.

Murray: In this as everything pilots should and will make their own choices, provided they are prepared to live (or not!) with the likely consequences, on that note personally I would never advise training that generates the accident, injury & death rates produced by the BHPA, I do not expect everyone in the sport to agree and as such no doubt sport wide we will continue to see the sort of accident rate I find totally unacceptiable.

Quote: Just a suggestion, perhaps actual training activities should be kept to smaller hills where local knowledge is greater and the conditions more forgiving. At least until the CFI has a little more experience on the larger hills.

Murray: Suggestions are always welcome, however with many 100’s of hours flying in the mountains in the Glenshee area, both solo and tandem, over the last ten years it is hard to see how much ‘more’ could be needed.

Quote: P.S I was going to include some photos of the day but every one I looked at had Murray in them. How does he do that?

Murray: Probably because I spent the day either tandem flying or assisting/checking pilots at the (advised!) take off location and often again at the retrive/LZ and the camera was pointed where the most activity was going on!

Murray Hay

Logistics and other animals….

Friday, December 7th, 2007

As usual with club meet days the ‘day’ started for me a few days earlier, building to a peak the evening before with several hours on the mobile to try and ensure all those attending would be singing from the same hym sheet! As well as collecting Nairn’s wing in case he ended up with a walk up as family commitments ment he would be arriving late morning.

A lot more ‘mobile’ time on the morning followed on from the normal (FIVE THIRTY… AM!) MET office weather check and printing out, along with ensuring enough maps were printed from the Memory Map software of the flying site and landing locations for members new to this site (including ME!) this is done with an eye to the wind directions & forecast conditions.

Final equipment loading & checking all done and it was on the road to Braemar with enough spare time avaliable to drive around Morrone to assess the landings at first hand to the NE valley, an area I was not familiar with.

With the first batch all on location the estate Landrover driven by Barry and the club pickup loaded with wings and a couple of bodies started up the track, the plan being to get the first group sorted, checked, test flown on tandem (new site) where needed and then back down for Nairn, Joe & Ian etc. who were arriving about 11:30 – 12:00 ish, as it happened Barry did the second drive as I was teaching his older son Ryan on G-BZJI.

With the second group all on the hill top and Nairn, Ian Archer, Jonathan having had a check flight on the tandem, solo flying & training was the order for the rest of the day in very nice light smooth (and sunny) mild conditions, till just before sundown when, as forecast, conditions quickly started to pickup.

With solo flying underway Ryan, Barry’s older son to started tandem flying, getting two 15-20 min flights with most of the time on the controls (his first flight while Barry was driving the ‘second batch’ to the hill top).

Barry’s youngest (photos) son Lee up on the Philou 29 rigged as a tandem, as Joe who had had the wing on loan had brought it back which was perfect as Lee being only three would have been too light for the normal tandem gliders! Once Lee had flown a few times his dad, deciding he could not go home without having flown it was back to G-BZJI then a LOT more retrive driving and fitting in a few solo flights on students and my own wings.

 The final BIG fly down was delayed by a few problems (mentioned elsewhere!) so with Nairn high out front and starting to feel it was getting ‘intresting’ as soon as the Vertex was off the ground it was one quick beat to gain just enough height and cut back low over the hill… flying through the wind shear (NB. not rotor) and often passing instructions on the radio made for (I am told!) some ‘very intresting’ views of the TOP of my wing by those down on the ground at the LZ… still no Murray adrenaline was released (is that a scary thing?) but for safety I sent Nairn over to the far side of the valley (lift but better air) while I punched down to the river ‘jumped’ the water just and no more at tree level (don’t try this at home!) and ‘spotted in’ to a nice clear field suitable for Nair landing in.. on the radio and it was Big Ears and turns/360* for Nair to work his way down, at one point after letting the ears back out he was going up again showing just how good the performance of his wing is!

But pulling in the ears again and he did a very nice job of getting low,  so once below the wind shear (upper wind V very light/nil valley wind.. boundary)  layer he had a sweet approach to a nice nil wind landing… still buzzing, glad to be on the ground but very pleased with the Big Ears and turns… a short walk to ‘chill’ while Alan C drove me with the wings back to the parking at the bottom of the track 5 mins away..

Memo to self… land high!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Hi Guys

My 2p worth was an absolute fantastic fun day. The site was absolutely stunning (the photos don’t do it justice) and we all got plenty of flying time. My first solo flight was going great until I went for an extra beat along the hill. This resulted in a lower than intended landing…. which actually reads …long sodding walk back up the hill!! However I did learn from that and all subsequent flights resulted in intentional higher landings (ie less walking) which I was really chuffed about. Under murray’s watchful eye, my confidence is growing all the time and ground handling is starting to show signs of competence … although a lot more practice is needed. The final flight was originally intended to be down into the northern valley but an increase in wind strength knocked that idea on the head. Murray offered a tandem flight down with the others but I was very aware of the wind strength and my genereal fatigue levels so i decided to call it quits & drive the pick up down instead. With hindsight this was a wise choice following the Nairns exploits :)) It just goes to show, you should always follow your instincts … !!

As fate would have it this decision meant I was on hand to “assist” Ian with his drag moment. Now I know why we wear helmets!!

The drive home was another 3 hours in the dark in my open top westfield se7en with no heater …. the suicidal deer had me going but was nothing compared to the black ice moment near kirkmichael …. i was grinning all the way home. Fleece-lined flight suits are just as good in se7ens as they are in flight …… ebay is your friend :))

Many thanks to Murray & the rest of the guys for their patience with the newbie.

Jonathan
PS – Come on guys, where’s all the photos :)))

Sunshine and Snow on Morrone

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Last Sunday 2nd December saw a large contingent of ESP Club members and Precision Paragliding Trainee’s up on the slopes of Morrone, one of the hills overlooking Braemar.Light winds were forecast from the NW. After phoning Murray for an update on the forecast I headed out the North Deeside Road. The temperature was -2.5degC at Aboyne. Mist had formed on the banks of the Dee, but Lochnagar was clearly visible when I got closer to Ballater.I was low on fuel and none of the petrol stations were open. This was 9.00am on a Sunday morning! I made my way to the Old Military road past the Braemar Golf course and waiting for Murray and Alan Coffin to appear.Ian Archer arrived with his friend Barry from the estate and also Jonathan in his Westfield Sports car with Nova wing on the back luggage rack. He must have been cold in an open top sports car!

We headed up the hill in the comfort of 4 x 4 vehicles. Walkers on the track looked on with envy. I shouted to the leader to “Get the Tea on when they got to the top” when we passed them on the track.

Barry, Ian and I were in the lead vehicle, Barry’s land rover. We stopped near the mast at the top and Ian and I got out and checked conditions on the ridge. The wind was blowing square up the face. I said to Ian that this would be the take off point. Murray had stopped behind us and popped his wing up to test the conditions. We headed back down to where Murray was parked them came back up to the same spot on the slope.morrone-temp.gifA few wings lifted off into the air. People were correctly shouting “Launching” on taking off. Alan Coffin got away early and maintained a good height above the slope. I took off and started my beats. I stayed in the air for around 40 minutes and only slope landed as my hands and fingers were very cold.

Murray was flying tandem and I remembered the rules of the air and always to look before turning. I was also looking above and below me. Remember the lower glider has right of way!

Joe and Ian turned up as well so there was Murray, Ian Archer, Alan Coffin, Joe, the other Ian, Jonathan (PUT) and Nairn (PUT). Also Ian Archers friend Barry and his two sons.

Everybody got some airtime (even the boys on the Tandem with Murray) and managed to stay high on the slopes. The vehicles were busy doing retrieves from the lower section of the bowl.

Later Alan and I decided to head down to where the cars were parked. I needed to catch a flight to Heathrow and conditions had eased. We took off almost at the same time. I headed round to the right of the hill and above the northern slopes. I did not get good height and had a tuck and tumble “arrival” near the telephone cell mast on the east facing slope. I made my way down through the soaking ground and saw Alan approaching with bags of height above the valley. He landed safely and we saw Ian Archer and Murray fly down from the bowl. Alan had got height above the Northern slope. I should have waited another 10 minutes…..

The others started to fly down. Murray had a few large frontal collapses as he had cut back very low. So the air appeared to be very ‘mixed’. Ian Archer approached the ground and Alan and I shouted up to Ian to look for the power lines close. Ian landed safely.

We saw Nairn who had been high out front of the hill approach well overhead and he appeared to be going up! We saw a significant collapse on one side of his wing and were all concerned as this was a Pilot Under Training (PUT). Alan jumped in his car and headed over to the area where Murray had landed. Nairn landed safely and Alan advised that Murray was in touch with Nairn on the radio and had received instruction, doing a number of 360* in Big Ears to drop below the lift area.

Murray advised me that Ian and Joe had an incident on the slope where Joe’s lines had got snagged and Ian’s reserve had accidentally come out of his harness as he was being ‘helped’ during a ground drag, both had been previously advised to set up for launch clear of the hill top location they actualy used. They opted to drive down in the pick up.

So a number of issues on the last flight down. Perhaps an earlier call to pack up would have been a safer and better bet.

I headed off looking for a Petrol Station. The Braemar Garage closed at 4.00pm and it was 4.05pm! I was committed to running on a very empty tank. I drove in 5th gear and kept my speed to a reasonable 50mph. luckily a garage outside Ballater was open and the tank was filled up again.

A good day was had by all but a few lessons were learned as well.

Take care and fly safe. Always check the forecast for the whole day….

Duncan

Oh Deer! Antler sited on Morrone…..

Monday, June 11th, 2007

I had a call from Ian Archer on Saturday morning to see if I was heading out. Looking up at the Haar in Aberdeen I knew there was a better chance of flying if we headed inland and up to the West! I was thinking the east side of Morrone near Braemar.

I mentioned Morrone to Ian, a new site for him. We discussed Mount Blair so I packed my wing and headed off with Mac the Dog down the A90 and met up with Ian at his place, a nice Timber Cabin in the woods, excellent.

We headed over to an East facing site near Mount Blair that Ian had flown with Murray, but I wanted to stick to the original game plan. We drove past Mount Blair and on to the Glenshee car park. The wind was blowing up from Braemar, so wrong direction for the Bowl.

We drove into Braemar and went round to the Duck Pond. Ian was not keen on the tab up, so we went round to the road access side. The gate was locked and Ian looked for a way up in his 4 x 4 but no luck.

We walked up the path and laid out on the right hand side of the hill. The plan was to jump to the east side of Morrone. I took off first and floated down the road a bit. Ian took off and landed further down the path. I walked up higher and took off again, this time jumping the gap (Murray would be proud of my slot landing).

Ian was still on the ground so I headed higher and further round the east side of Morrone. I spotted the antler (pictured) in the heather up to the front and packed the item in my harness. No messing around on the landing I thought as this would push through the material and into my back!

I laid out on a flat part near the top of the hill and started my checks from the start as I was hot and flustered. Take it back to the start I said to myself, take off the gear and lay the wing out. It is worth doing this if you have the wing over your shoulder and are walking up the hill for an extended period of time!

Pulled the wing up and I was up, up and away, the vario screaming out. The thermals were strong and I was going up at a fair old rate. I flew towards Braemar and got well above the summit. After half a hour looking at the views around Braemar (I saw a herd of Red Deer but no “Buck with one Antler”!) I drifted back over Ian who was well below me. I did several 360’s and realised I was still going up, so I flew out of the lift zone and back towards Ian and landed a few yards from him.

Conditions had picked up but I had enjoyed the flight. I was glad to be on the ground again. The speed bar setup that Murray assisted with was fine but in discussion with him I should have pulled Big Ears to get down.

Fly safe and we’ll see you on the hill soon!

Duncan

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Up Bright and early as usual, reminding myself that it is a Saturday so filling up with 2 caffeine shots would suffice. Switched on the Beeb to check the 7:25 news and weather pressing ON Button @ my PC before returning to kettle to do same. This is an ideal time as my PC boots up in same time as kettle takes to boil 1 cup “o” water. ( Yes , I did have a slight “ vino del collapse “ hang-over )

METO Site showed very light winds for the day pointing towards the Glens and no rush to bother Murray at such an early hour.  Plus time to let reality kick in……. Car was already loaded up in anticipation and also on the off chance that during the week Nigg would present a possible hours lunch time flying.

After my usual 10 minute call to Murray to review MET and general chat I Headed off  South from Portlethen around 11:30 – ish towards CLOVA and coming across Murray drying his wing in the morning sunlight at the head of the Glen. The 2 of us then convoyed up to Clova Hotel but left My car on-route in case of down valley flights.

We then hiked up 1/3 of the way towards Loch Brandy level and “tried the air“. Small thermals were cycling through with Murray managing to stay aloft, but yours truly still had the habbit of flying with tooo Much brake and tooo far our from hill.

When venturing further on and across the path towards the plateau conditions improved with regards thermals and wind strength, which was expected. Joy, the vario began to sing and the 2 of us flew for a few hours with me being restricted on height due to heavy hands (approx 900 ft above the plateau) and Mr Hay managing to punch through the inversion at approx 1500 ft above the plateau.

 

 

The day was finished off, after ‘jumping’ back to a void the long flat walk, with a great top to bottom flight from t/o next Loch Brandy, to landing in the field out front of the Hotel.

Perfect finish, with a cold Guinness to re-fresh at the hotel before heading back north.

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Coe Pilots

An early drive up on Friday ensured a couple of pints at the Kingshouse before bedtime.No point in taking unneccessary risks, what? There were red deer in the car park, hand tame, presumably looking for food , but nonetheless an enchanting sight in the moonlight. If omens exist, this must have been one of the best.

A cold night, frosty in the morning sun, promised at least the chance of thermals even if the forecast was for high pressure and the “glass ceiling” that often entails. By half past eight Murray and I were at the chair lift, decided not to have a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich at the ski centre, and headed up to Creag Dubh.

We were early. It was sunny. There was very little wind. These are the conditions I find it virtually impossible to reverse launch in. These are some of the conditions Murray loves to reverse launch in. He took off, and flew away. I stayed on the ground after three botched attempts at taking off.

I was still there when Murray reappeared for his second flight; I felt quite chilled, as in relaxed, and let him go off again. I reasoned that if it was so light as to make launch so marginal for me, then conditions probably weren’t soarable, and a fly down was all I was going to get, and I was still there when loads of ather people with big rucksacks started walking past me, right up to the top of Creag Dubh. I sidled up that way since I was feeling silly, and vulnerable, and kind of camouflaged myself in the middle of them. I chatted to a couple of people, and I remembered days on the hill in the peak district, and even spoke to a couple of people from the D.S.C. which club I began flying with straight after I completed training with Peak Paragliding at the end of the eighties.

But still no flying for me, and not for many others either, but as usual, Murray kept appearing and disappearing with a rather monotonous regularity which did not bode well for the poor lass at the top of the chairlift. I myself fell for her, and I made her laugh, which I took as a good sign. Murray said it was more to do with the wet patch on my arse where I landed after said fall. Embarrassing.

But it was all still very quiet up on the tops, and noon drifted past at about the same rate as the cumulous which were appearing sporadically over the summits. The wind, what there was of it, backed, then veered, then backed again, although there was a fairly steady 8 knot Nor Easterly at car park level. There was an inversion at 500 feet-ish above the bottom station, according to Murray, up until about three o’clock, when it all kicked off, according to the gaggle that went hurtling skyward as I was packing up my glider in the car park after my first landing. Joe and Ian had turned up and gave me a hand to to an alpine launch, just as the wind semed to be dropping again. Turned out I just, just missed the start of the best thermal conditions of the day, but it put me in a good enough position to view it all.

After that, I changed gliders, from the Xenon26 to an Xray20, because it did actually feel bubbly on the way down, and I’m still a bit light on the Xenon. Joe, who’s in the mountain rescue team at Killin, gave me an elastoplast by way of broad hint, after my ‘sky diving’ at Glenshee a few months ago, and I decided  on a respectful approach to these early thermals.

Back on the tops, I mixed in with the hordes of gliders that were mixing like midges way over the tops and out the front. Distant groups were skying out a couple of thousand feet above me, over Leacann nam Braonan, and also later on, over Sron na Creise. I got into some good thermal, but I wasn’t coring it properly. Still, flying without a vario wasn’t really giving myself the best of chances in that department, so I wasn’t too bothered.

It continued excellent thermal flying for perhaps two hours. I came down because I lost the lift, promptly finding it again over the car park, and following a series of wingovers, and going to the edge of a spiral dive, managed to touch down within four feet of my selected spot, albeit a bit off balance.

Murray landed a few minutes afterward, having foolishly followed me down. Joe was already fixing himself a brew, but it wasn’t till twenty minutes afterward that Ian Aitchison followed his grin in to land after a damn good 41 minutes (on that flight). Despite a very late start, I think everyone must have had a great time that afternoon, and to judge from the standard facial expression at the bottom landing, delight was probably closer the mark. Murray has to post his own comments on this one though, because our opinions are somewhat from different perspectives if not at actual variance. Something to do with car arrivals or some such, I dunno. You know who you are.

Parahandy does the Coe

Friday, March 30th, 2007

 

 Beinn a ChrulaisteIain over rannoch moorJoe heads for the BarIain groundhandling

After 3 weeks of solid rain, the old clyde puffer and myself having an extreme case of cabin fever and an even bigger case of red wine had had enough. No more talking the talk, we declared that, once again, it was time to walk the walk, fly the fly or, put  simply, feck-off and see if the big boys would let us play with them. But, where to go? What to do? A plan was needed. And fast.
    We had talked briefly about staying local, flying our usual sites in the Tarmachans or Killin, but fancied a wee change, and thought it high time we spread our wings a little further afield. So, we checked the forecasts, consulted Iain’s corns, looked out the window and said ‘ah feck it! It’s Scotland let’s take it as it comes.’ It did look like we would get  better weather the further north and west we went though. An easterly wind then pointed us in the direction of the White Corries. A place I’d had my eye on for a while. This was ok for me, but Iain reckoned that all those skiers watching us might just give him a dose of Murryitis and cause him to ‘fluff it’. That of course would be far too embarrassing for a couple of ‘cool dudes’ like what we are. With that idea then unceremoniously binned, a definite re-think was required. Discussing it over a quick phone call, we set out the challenge. The rules were simple. It had to be big. It had to be quiet. It had to be easy and, above all else, it had to have a pub within landing distance.
That left us with only one option. Beinn a chrulaiste, a big whaleback shaped lump of a hill lying directly behind the Kinghouse hotel.

  
Ben-Crusty! In my minds eye I could see the blog report now
Captains log: Start date 24 march 2007.
Your mission Joe (should you choose to accept it) To boldly go where no-one else can be arsed!
         

 But, hey-ho. A jump’s a jump as Mr Carr would say. So that was it sorted then, and on Friday, night phone calls exchanged to check who we could drag out and a wee note left on the forum to tease all those we couldn’t and off we went.
 

     Arriving in the Coe about 8:30 first port of call, after putting the tent up, (well, every drunk needs somewhere to stagger back to) was the ‘Kingy’, – reputedly scotland’s oldest Inn.

   
      As an aside, it has to be said that I am getting a wee bit worried about old parahandy. For years he’s been tighter than lycra on a ‘weegie’s’ arse. You know of whom I speak. You see them walking down Callander’s main street every Saturday, bag of chips in one hand, irn-bru in the other; legs like a bag of marbles. Now it seems he’s found the key to his purse strings and gone all para-dandy on us. Take Fri’ night in the bar for instance. Gone were the years of sitting quietly in a corner with a half pint shandy or a jug of 70 shilling reminiscing about bygone days when he was Scotland’s answer to Don Whillans. In were the bottles of Becks and budweisers! Combine that with a clean fresh shirt and there are definite undertones of a mid-life crisis.

      
        Last month also saw a nice new trendy Montane top added to his wardrobe and this month a new variometer. I reckon that’s just so he has something else to blame for the high pitched banshee type noises so often accompanying his take offs. I eventually did manage a bit of a snigger to myself on Saturday however when he left it switched on while walking up the hill. I always thought they were supposed to go Beep, beep, beep. Not ……Beep……………beep……………beep………..cup of tea….beep……change your top…………beep………..check the wind………beep………photo stop………….beep.

Joe heads for the Bar

Joe Heads for the Bar

If you haven’t been there Beinn a chrulaiste is the hill lying just north of the  Kinghouse hotel. Our approach being from the track junction at the corner of the old road. The first 20 mins or so are a little on the boggy side as you cross the edge of the moor but, if you are careful, you might be able to pick out the remains of an old wall/path, which makes the going a whole lot easier. Follow the burn under the pylons to the mouth of Coire Bhlacach and from there turn left up the East ridge. There are one or two relatively easy take-of options on the lower third of the ridge but then it becomes a little more difficult and steeper with large outcrops until you reach the top third or so. Taking off anywhere near the summit is fairly straightforward. (Time to top 1hr 40ish with full kit)

  
        As it looked like being a fairly warm spring like day we had decided to take it easy in the morning and enjoyed a few caffeine kicks in the hotel lounge, trying to guess what the other 9 of the top 10 viewpoints in the world were apart from the one we were looking at. Sadly, Pamela Anderson sunbathing wasn’t on the list. Anyway we took our time wandering up the hill, timing our take off for late in the afternoon, once the sun had past its peak. This turned out to be a good plan as the wind had also died down slightly to a fairly steady 10/12mph and had veered more to the south just as we reached our planned take-off spot. Perfect.

   
             Site check completed, we both made sure the other had spotted the pylons lining the valley floor and did a quick estimate of how close we could get to the tents. Then we were ready to go. It was a fairly short runway, so I popped my wing up to feel the air and to give it a quick shake out, while Iain did his pre flight check and readied himself. Then a quick nod that we were both set and a few steps later I was in the air. A couple of quick scoots along the ridge to maximise any lift going and then turned back S.E heading for the old road next to the tent. Surprisingly, despite it being fairly late on, there was still plenty of thermal action to be had. If your not as heavy on your wing as me that is.
            As usual being about 10kg on the dark side there really isn’t much that’s going to keep me in the air for long other than a tow from a passing moon rocket. So, after about 10 min’s I found myself nicely coming in to land on the road, about 50m from the tent. Great, a quick pack-up, wander back to the tent and put a brew on. It’s not a bad life sometimes.

         
                After a few min’s sitting in the sun enjoying the views, there was still no sign of Iain, so I got the binoculars out, did a quick radio check and scanned the hill sides for him. Surprisingly, he was still at the launch site ‘ground-handling’ Though, through the bino’s it was hard to see who was handling the ground more. Him or his new Nova.  Watching the wing snaking around like that was a bit like watching a cobra on cannabis. About ten min’s later he managed to get it together and did a rather nice take of straight into the path of an oncoming express elevator. A few min’s more he was a very respectable 300m above launch showing absolutely no signs of coming down. Wee Bugger……..! 

         
               Well, after what seemed like an eternity, he eventually graced mother earth with his prescence once more, landing on exactly on the same spot as me. Well, with one small difference that is. Only one of us dropped his wing onto the Barb-wire fence. **/x!! That’s the owners of ‘The Loft’ mortgage paid for next month. Seriously, I hope there’s not too much damage auld yin.

And that folks as they say was that. Another cracking weekend in the big hills. Tune in next weekend for more feckless adventures.
 
Joe Smith (Kmrt Air corps)
Fly fast, fly hard and if you see us – fly away.
 
 
 Iain over rannoch moor
 
 Iain hovers over the moor
 

Skiing and Paragliding – All In a Day

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I spoke to Murray last Friday 23rd March from Heathrow Terminal 1 after my regular visit to the BMI lounge and the use of a laptop PC to log on to the ESP Club site and click on the weather link. I saw Joe’s posting on the Club Forum for the weekend and with a Monday flight back down to London I knew I could negotiate with Jacqueline for at least one day out.

Both Saturday and Sunday looked like flying days on the Bracknell Chart so I kept my fingers and toes crossed.Saturday morning came and I phoned Murray at 7.30am to check his plans. He was heading out PDQ to use his Season Skiing pass at Glenshee and asked me what shoe size I was and I knew what was coming next…. I did fancy a go at skiing as I have not been for a few years but my heart was on getting some air time as I had not been in the harness for quite a few weeks. Into the TT and headed out of Aberdeen. Stopped at the Aboyne Glider site and watched plane and glider take off. Wind was light and variable. The blue skies beckoned.Through Braemar now and saw a car at the track leading up Morrone so I knew some of the Aberdeen Club members were out. I looked up at Morrone but could not see any canopies in the sky.Pushing on to Glenshee I saw Murray’s Pickup in the resort Car Park. Speaking with Murray on the phone who at the time was enjoying some skiing I took his advice and went to the South Car Park.  

The wind was blowing up the valley so I took the decision to head up with the paraglider and make a flight.The wind was square on the slope. I saw Murray at the bottom pull up and lay his wing out. I laid my wing out and took off, working the weak lift coming through. Helmet camera was on so I was recording the flight. 10 minutes in Murray was flying out in front and I landed just behind him. During the flight I experienced tip collapses which worked themselves out very quickly. I should have leaned back more though. I had to scratch and fly above the snow several times. Thermals were weak and punchy. 

Ian heading down to land next the road.

 

Ian came out and we chatted about conditions. A kestrel or hawk was hovering in the bowl at the top right. Murray advises to move round to the bowl which I did. Ian flew round to join us.A number of flights from the bowl were had by all, including one I had into a pile of snow which was great fun. Murray flew the other side of the bowl and Ian had a good flight after showing us up with his ground handling skills. Well done Sir!My last flight was down to the Car Park after flying over a family enjoying some sledging. I landed just short of the road and my canopy settled onto the road. I should have carved round and headed nearer to the south side as the valley wind would be disturbed downwind. I have posted a video onto www.YouTube.Com , search for Paragliding and Glenshee.     See you on the hill soon.  Duncan