Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A sunny, happy ride up to launch.

Every time I show up at a new mountain here in Europe I'm sure I've found paradise. Having perfect weather helps a lot, but even just from a paragliding perspective I understand why there are so many more pilots in Europe than Canada or the US. Cable-cars up the mountain, huge grassy take-off areas covered in yellow & purple wildflowers and a bar at almost every landing field.

With the hundreds of pilots in the air you might expect chaos, but so far we've only seen one crazy event. A pilot was flying about 100 meters over launch in Slovenia when we heard a big "THWACK!" Usually by the time you look up the collapse is over (the noise is the wing snapping back open after a wingtip folds in) but this time we could see something funky was going on. It looked like he tried to fix his mishap with too much brake and the wing was trying to stall (you could see it starting to go into a horseshoe shape) and then he started rotating and his risers got all twisted up. It was all very plain to see since by now he was maybe 50 meters over launch and everyone was yelling at him to throw his reserve parachute. He did, it opened quickly and he ended up landing back on the take-off! Everything turned out fine - even the 'diaper bag' from his reserve landed next to him - and we've been really lucky to have seen nothing worse than some shaky student take-offs and downwind landings.

Since we've been exploring new sites our flights have been a bit shorter since we don't know the areas too well and are hesitant to go on a cross-country flight anywhere. Now we've found a fantastic spot & tomorrow will be our 3rd day flying here. We're getting to know the mountain a lot better with each flight so if the winds cooperate tomorrow we'll stretch our to speak. Heh heh.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wild & Beautiful

Another gorgeous flying site in Austria

Traveling thru the Alps in May is least this year it has been. Sunny skies, no crowds and of course excellent food! The one problem for paraglider pilots is the lack of open cable cars. Most of them are closed for repairs this time of year and don't re-open until June when the masses over here start their holidays and come to hike in the mountains. So I've had to be more creative finding launches this year instead of relying on flying sites I've been to before. Between the internet and the best TV channel *ever* which cycles through the webcams sitting on top of all the ski resorts we've been able to find some new spots to try out.

It's through this method that we ended up at Wildschonau, which from my rusty German translates into Wild & Beautiful, or Natural and Pretty, or something of the sort. It's a close drive to the home of our Bavarian friends (where we're currently staying) and has a cable car that conveniently reopened last week. The "town" is adorable, a little ski village nestled in a valley where the fields are overflowing with purple and yellow wildflowers. The launch isn't too high but the flight we managed a couple of days ago restored us in a way most people probably only experience after a day at the spa. We were in the sky for an hour flying around under puffy clouds, down low over cows with clanging bells around their neck and dodging helicopters delivering supplies around the valley to homes that have no roads to service them. Well, the last item we could've done without but it added to the excitement!

Unfortunately after 3 weeks of beautiful weather, we finally woke up to rain and now have to wait a day or two for this weather system to pass. With a good internet connection and a bag full of big German pretzels on the table I think getting through this will be tolerable.

View of the landing zone from the hotel bar

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Looking right down on some castle ruins while paragliding - Tolmin, Slovenia

I'm taking an afternoon off from flying. Those who know me may question my sanity, but those who know me best understand that this only child needs alone time to recharge. So I sent Derek up the mountain and am hoarding the laptop all to myself to finally write a blog update (despite the crackly internet service) and to meditate on my trip so far.

Flying has, once again, been a learning experience. Our first flight was at a site we'd been to before in Slovenia so we weren't too concerned about any paragliding surprises. What we forgot to consider was that in the past we'd flown there in the mellow fall air, and we were now standing on launch looking at full-on spring conditions. After our first few flights we realized that waiting until midday to launch with everyone else was just silly. Both of us had flown some early spring currents at home, but neither of us were ready to jump right into butt-kicking, roller-coaster thermals. So we started launching earlier which helped ease us into midday, and went for soul-restoring flights at the end of the day to end everything on a good note.

Which leads us to right now. Today we're at a new site in Austria we've never flown before, and once again we found ourselves taking off in prime thermal production time and kept our flights shorter than usual. Derek went up to try a late afternoon tour of the valley, but I'm content to wait until morning, when you can be sure I'll be one of the first ones on the bus. One thing for sure is that we're having a fantastic time - we're both suntanned and learning more each day. We still have a month left with nothing to do but fly, so hopefully I'll be posting some great flight reports here soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Europe 2011 so far...

My boyfriend and I are in Europe right now, finishing up week 2 of our 6-week paragliding adventure. It's been fantastic so far, especially since every time we check on the weather back home the forecast is for rain. Over here we're already getting sunburnt!

So far we've had about 5 flights this week, which were much needed after the first 10 days of visiting with friends & family. was kind of nice being on a 'normal' vacation for a bit, the kind where you don't base your day (and mood!) on what the winds are doing but instead go sight-seeing and eat way too much local food.

I'll post some flight reports & pictures soon, right now it's time to go flying again!