Monday, September 09, 2013

St. Vincent les Forts

The day started off cold and cloudy with lots of fog and misting rain.  We hiked up the hill to visit Nigel & Carol (and Merlin) this morning and discuss XC routes.  Nigel & Carol are another couple of expat Brits that live in St. Andre.  Nigel is a pilot to and gives us rides up the hill each day for a fiver.

We we arrived we, another pilot, Dieter, that Werner & Jackie know was already there discussing potential routes and the weather.  Carol served tea and we all had a time visit.

The mistral conditions of Sunday continued on Monday.  It was howling at St. Andre.  Werner
suggested we drive 1.5 hours north to St. Vincent les Forts.  This site is a low ridge soaring site at the north tip of the famous Dormulouse run.  We had hoped to see St. Vincent this trip, but by air, not car.

Werner figured that the lower takeoff, and the fact that it was shielded from the winds by the bigger mountains to the NW near Veynes.  Sounded better than sitting around watching the trees blow over, so we piled in the car and headed north.

I drove this time, I didn't want to arrive green again.  Once we pulled into the parking lot my jaw dropped.  The scenery was insane.  This was the most beautiful view from a takeoff I have ever seen.  The blue of the lake, the hue of the lavender fields on the opposite hillsides and those mountains in the distance were breath taking.  Click on the pic to the left for a larger, more stunning image.

The winds were light so we dug in and started parawaiting on the carpeted launch.  Soon cars started pulling to the lot and before you know it there were at least 100 pilot waiting on launch.  Every so often someone would dare to huck, and immediately sink out.  It was very, very light.  Jackie decided to take a turn and soon Werner was on his way down the hill to pick her up.

After a while, Jeff and I decided to huck. We both had extended sledders, working some slight lift on the north end of the hill.  Even for a sled run, it was an amazing flight just because of the view.  Of course my GoPro was malfunctioning so no video!

Right as we were finishing packing up, Steve pulled up to give us a ride back to lauch. As we were coming up the hill, Jackie launched again and we pulled over so Jeff could get some good shots of her in the air.  Werner took a short flight and was able to top-land, but it never really turned on.  After more parawaiting we decided to bag it and head back.  More meat on the grill and beers for dinner.  Another good day!

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