PWC Sun Valley Day 2

Task: Baldy 2k Exit, Little Wood Reservoir 12km, Arco 10km, Diamond Peak 27km, Dubois 2k ESS, Dubois 400m Goal. Optimized distance: 193km.

Day 2 was a classic Sun Valley distance day, so they called a huge task. The goal was Dubois, ID, and other than a small jog south after the start, it was a straight shot to Dubois. The turn points were only there as control points to keep us on the same line and out of the potential overdevelopment to the north.

The race started at 12:45. There were cumulus clouds over launch which made for good, cohesive start gaggles on the edge of the cylinder. Most of us had an hour to kill between launching around 11:45 and the 12:45 start, so plenty of time to strategize and position on the correct edge of the cylinder. At cloudbase with a couple of minutes to go before the start, I relaxed for 30 seconds and was in about 100th position when the start time elapsed. These guys are good. On the bright side, I had 100 lift indicators in front of me on the way to the next turn point. We came in at ridge height on the other side of the Hailey valley, and battled a bit of wind here before finally grabbing a good one and getting out. Many pilots were flying south down the range here, but goal was to the east. I dove straight over the back into roadless territory and several pilots followed. The climbs over this low, hilly terrain weren’t great, but we made our way east. Many pilots had caught up from various directions now. The lead gaggle was in front and climbing over some of the last hills before the long valley crossing at the Arco turn point. Some random, disorganized lift was all we had here, so it took a while to get up, but eventually we tagged Arco and dove straight for Coyote and King Mt. launch. Up to cloudbase here over the always impressive King Mt. Cloudbase was around 4000m most of the day. After King, we flew across the valley to the Lemhi range to glance the large Diamond Peak cylinder. A little low coming into the hills, but good climbs once over the peaks. Up to base again and heading east. It was now around 6pm and the day was getting weak. We took whatever we could get over the flats, watching the glide ratio to goal (it was 18:1 over the Lemhi range at cloudbase) get worse and worse. The upper level winds were light all day, and backed off even more in the evening, so we didn’t have that fast, boaty final glide as we often get at the end of the day. A few final attempts at climbing for those extra few kilometers were futile, so it was time to glide to the ground.

The lead gaggle had had one nice final climb that our chase gaggle didn’t get, so many pilots were only about 15km short of goal. I landed about 25km short in the middle of a large group of pilots, right on the road. Nobody made goal, but what a day.

There were more pilots than seats in retrieve vehicles, so about 20 pilots were left waiting after dark by the side of the road for more vehicles to show up.

Now about 10:30 pm, the two loaded vans went to Pickle’s Place in Arco for food. I think we gave them half of their monthly income in about an hour. Another hour and a half of driving just to get back to HQ, and we were in by about midnight or a little later. This would have been great, but my glider, PWC tracking device, and instruments were in a trailer that was still in Arco. I slept in the parking lot in my truck until it got back around 2:30am, downloaded, turned in my tracker for charging and check-in, and drove to the campsite. In bed by 3am.

Today is going to overdevelop and high winds are predicted. The day is cancelled. Good, most of us can use some rest!

Just checked the results - looks like I got 26th for the day. The shot above is over the Lemhi range - the last tall climb before gliding into the flats beyond.
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