PWC Sun Valley Day 1

Task: Takeoff 2k Exit, Borah Peak 23 km, Twin Bridges 2k ESS, Twin Bridges Goal Line. Optimized distance: 61km.

The weather forecast today was calling for overdevelopment in the afternoon. A short, easy task was called down the Trail Creek valley. Flying down this valley has one critical move: get high over Sun Peak and Otto (about 4000m is high) before plunging into the restricted valley that leads to Twin Bridges and eventually out towards the Lost River range and Borah peak. We were getting nice and high over launch, around 4,800m, and there was quite a push from the west at this altitude. Most of us were up with plenty of time to waste before the start time elapsed, so several pushes back into wind (towards launch) were required to stay in the cylinder. The timing gets a little random when this happens, so a number of us weren’t at our highest when the race started. Oh well, on to Sun Peak to find a climb in the shade, then up the ridge towards Otto, where it’s important to get a good climb before continuing on. Plenty of lift now, with skies darkening and filling in. We were high, so we made a dash down the hills to the south of Trail Creek valley. As we were approaching what would be goal (before tagging the Borah cylinder), rain and graupel started to drop out to the north of the valley. There were now about 50 pilots in this area who were starting to get concerned, and with a few radio transmissions to the meet director about “Level 2” conditions and virga, the task was cancelled. We were now running away from the bad weather, but under a large dark cloud that had plenty of lift underneath it. Speedbar, tailwind and a few glances at compass headings just in case, we pushed into the friendlier sky to the east before the cloud could have its way with us. Many pilots, including myself, flew in light graupel while running for sun under this cloud.

At least 30 pilots down in a nice green alfalfa field, retrieve vans with beer, and back to HQ for O2 refills and check-in by 4:30pm.

The oxygen turned on just a few minutes into the flight (launch is at 2700m, O2 turns on at 3000m) and really never went off - we were high all day. I can only imagine how hard this week will be for pilots without this fabulous gas.

Tomorrow’s weather doesn’t look great, but there’s always a plethora of things to do in Sun Valley besides fly.

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