Saturday 30th - Talgarth

Talgarth served up it's best Southerly conditions ready to challenge those willing to take a launch! Winds from the SSW at 20kts gusting 30 kts resulted in discussions between the duty instructor and tug pilot and it was agreed that after launching the sacrificial "pundit" in a single seater they "might launch " a two seater.
Simon L and Dave W climbed into the DG 505 , with faces as eager as two children at their grandmothers birthday party they accepted the rope. The aerotow was "interesting " all the way to the ridge after which they managed to fly for over two hours before being shot down by rain. 
No other gliders at the club flew after their launch! 

Forecast for Sun much better . 

Saturday 30th June

A bright start that soon clouded over, with thermic clouds.

Reports of long glides over several miles from some convergences with very strong lift. We escaped most of the showers but the approach was still turbulent. There were 3 trial lessons and Matt and Phil related some stories from the Alps having just returned home.

Friday 29th June - Talgarth

The advance party arrived at Talgarth by about 1pm, the sky looked reasonable so the DG505 , Steve W Discus and Mark's ASW20 were rigged under the watchful eye of the summer instructor "Bo" .
A local pundit launched into the brisk SSW wind in his DG300 , soon followed by Mark C and Steve W . The aerotow was a rough ride but they were soon released into the south bowl .
The conditions were "testing" with wave rotor mixed in with low cloud at times but as soon as light rain arrived they scuttled home . Toys put to bed early , the forecast much better tomorrow for when the troops arrive .  - MC

Thursday 28th June

Following a grotty Wednesday with just a weather check flight, we were more hopeful for improvements for Thursday. Overnight there were heavy thunderstorms and the warm moist air gave a very foggy morning.
Time was well spent by overhauling the launch ropes, demonstrating the derigging of a Junior prior to it's trip to Talgarth and completing the wiring of the sound and video system. We then checked out the projector with the La Motte video (showing affinity with those in the Alps at the moment.).
By lunchtime, the predicted cold front clearance was with us and there was a rush to get lunch and get going.
It was instantly soarable to nearly 3000ft, but during the first flights the wind picked up to a rather blustery south south westerly. Keith J collected his first Bronze half hour. There was a little bit of wave over Broadhembury. Although the evening stayed dry and bright we had to cancel the group evening due to turbulence from the South ridge, DG505 was derigged  also for the Talgarth trip.

Wednesday 27th - La Motte, Cooling off on a Glacier

In the mouth of the Glacier
Today Christian and I ventured deep into the snow capped mountains, our destination the glacier Blanc. I thought that it would be a matter of arriving, taking a few photos and heading home. Christian however had much more grand plans. Although the glacier is receding due to possibly global warming it is still impressive from the air. When we arrived, we then went deep into the glacier's cul de sac with towering cliffs on all sides except the way we entered. Once at the far end of the glacier Christian pushed the nose down until we were skimming the snow lined surface scaring a family of deer to run across our path.  Then we were off back into the valley carved by the glacier over the centuries. My cockpit video captured the evidence of my ear to ear smile.
Glacier Blanc and the 4100m peak of Barre des Ecrin
Flying in the mountains is challenging. Dealing with 10 knot thermals efficiently and flying meters from rock faces requires far greater precision. It felt like learning how to glide all over again. There is much to learn but the rewards are so great. To fly over glaciers, to soar with eagles and vultures and to climb up the faces of mountains with off the clock lift is humbling.
Learning to glide for me is now a passport to seeing the world in a way that pedestrians can only dream of.

Heading home

Tuesday 26th - La motte, Mistral Merryment

The second day of Mistral (north west winds) and the promise of strong lift on the north westerly ridges, thermals, wave and crystal clear visibility had us braving the winch launch and rotor in the valley of La Motte du Caire and heading for Montagne de Gache. Rowan flew in the K21 with Christian, the CFI and explored the Jabron valley and Montagne de Lure, the local hot spot for climbing into the wave. After testing the Montagne de Pelegrine they climbed up and headed east to the Parcour and from there north to Dormilouse, across Lac Serre Poncon arriving on Montagne de Guillaume very low and but with the surface of the lake there indicating a SW valley breeze the Guillaume obliged with a good climb and an excellent view of the local landing field there next to the lake, called le Crotts.

Lac de Serre Poncon 
The North wind was not making life easy so they returned to the Parcour for a climb before heading west via Blayeul for the last essential climb to get home, routing along the tops of the ridges that work so well in the SW valley breeze but are vicious if visited in a mistral!

Meanwhile JB was enjoying himself in the wave in the Jabron valley but failing to pluck up enough courage to work along the ridges to Mt Ventoux which looked very hazy in the stable air of the Rhone valley. Then Matt arrived after launching much later and said Dude - Mt Ventoux - the wind is 355 / 20 kts lets go! So JB headed off to the west from the comfort of 2800 metres while Matt set off at 2100 - ridge top height! The ridge was working (mostly) except for 'Monts Higgle de Piggledy' between the Lure and Mt Ventoux! As promised  Mt Ventoux was working well and JB was elated at passing another milestone, Mt Ventoux solo. Thanks Matt!! After a bit of time enjoying the view and getting some 'footage' it was time to return along the ridges to the east end of the Lure before heading back to Sisteron. 
Monte Vantoux

Then loosing some height we tested the Beaume just for the thrill of experiencing the epic lift as we returned to the Gache. The view up at the Gache from 900m at the Cittidel at Sisteron looks impressive, but we were above the top of the Gache by the time we reached it! Time for home, JB flew from 1000m at the Cittadel to La Motte without circling and arrived at 1570m despite the 18kt headwind and Matt went to see the horses (and... eagle!) on Jouere before coming down to a fantastic supper prepared by Martin Reece Jones,  brother of David who glides at Parham and is here for two months - this is the life!

Sunday 24th - La Motte, Introduction to Paradise

For a bad day, for the region, it certainly felt pretty cool to me. My first launch was a cable break which apparently there have been only four this year. Then my second flight lasted two hours and gave me a tour of the local mountains of La Motte Du Caire. We visited eight in total.
Launching into epicness

During my tour I was lucky enough to fly with a pair of vultures who seemed to be unimpressed with my glide ratio. We then visited the horses who are often found on the edge of a particular precipice, who to me looked like they were contemplating suicide. Probably from all the gliders taunting them how limited their existence is.
Vultures on the port bow

Suicidal Nags

We finished my orientation with some aerobatics in the La Motte Du Caire valley.

JB and Matt remained earth bound moaning with nasty bout of pundititis.

Grand Gutiere

Sunday 24th June

O ye of little faith, after a slow start due to lack of people plus a poor forecast, we started flying after 11am but what a day it turned out to be.
Simon M was first away in the ASW 20 followed shortly after by Pete St in the Discus, between them they flew nearly 8 hrs, most other flights were over 1hr, It was nice to see Paul S flying solo again and he has had his yellow card signed up.
The NW ridge was working all day, not that it was needed because the thermals were abundant with 6-8kt climbs at times and the cloud base reached 3,500ft by mid afternoon. - JSt.

Saturday 23rd June

The forecast wasn't brilliant but the actual conditions turned out to be flyable all day and soarable.
Gliders were busy all day and  there were some long thermic flights in the morning. Lisa and Henry   had  a couple of flights in the DG505 at the end of the day one of which was nearly 30mins and an interesting approach with the southerly wind.
Congratulations to Paul - it was good to see him resolo after his recent enforced layoff.
Paul - solo again
Martin figured out how to spin a K21, and more visitors from the Open Weekend have returned to use their 3 months membership.

Saturday 23rd - La Motte, Comings and goings

Another day dawns with the birds singing, the sun shining, the kettle boiling and the happy band grinning at the thought of yesterdays fun and the prospect of another day in the mountains! The forecast was for Blue thermals and a light NW wind but with the possibility that the NW wind might erode the effect of the valley breeze. 
JB nearly at the top of Tete de L'Estrop
Getting away was easy and the plan was to meet up on the Parcour and then decide where to go once we had assessed the conditions. We all arrived there low and had to work hard to climb out of the trees.  We climbed up but the conditions were definitely not inspiring us with the confidence to venture any further into the mountains so we contented ourselves with trying to get above Tete d'Estrop (around 10000ft amsl) before heading for home and an early finish in time for Phil get de-rigged and packed up for an Oh my God it's early start in the morning. As Phil leaves us Rowan arrived, having flown to Marsielle and taken the bus to Malijei where he was met by Matt and JB and quickly settled into the routine of staying at La Motte Du Caire. 


At the summit

Friday 22nd - La Motte, One went over the mountain

Inhospitable but Awesome

Reading these Blogs you have to adjust your perception. Each flight, just as at home, may seem to follow similar well trodden paths (depending on the weather) but even from the first climb, often difficult, hot and sweaty, the vista that opens up is truely spectacular. As we work our way along the proven routes into the higher mountains the landscape changes from spectacular to the awesome. When not fully concentrating on the task in hand ones mind begins to contemplate your surreal situation, sat in a tiny fibreglass bubble suspended above a completely inhospitable landscape carved by wind, snow and ice out of million year old rock. A landscape infinitely older than you and completely unimpressed by your presence, on one hand it will kill you as easily as you would swat a fly, on the other presents a fascinating challenge and a truly inspiring experience.

Today Matt buggered off early giving JB and I  a chance to prove our skills…it took some time but eventually we found our way along that well trodden path to the Parcour the local M1 and stepping off point for a number of destinations.
Monte Viso with clouds billowing up from Italy
Primary target was Monte Viso on the Italian border. By the time JB and I had worked our way to the Col de Var, a ski resort linked to Risoul, Matt had already rounded Visio which was sucking up cloud from the warm, damp air from the Italian plains to the East (see the photo). Matt patient as ever with his ducklings returned to guide us for the final 19 km into dragon territory but true to form JB decided to investigate some sink in the opposite direction. 
Testing the Flarm
Keep up Red Two
Later investigation, over several bottles of beer, studying the downloaded traces revealed this to be part of a cunning plan whereby JB actually got closer to Visio than 611, sneaky bastard! Anyway for M5 and 611 the flight back to La Motte was truly amazing. In reality it did not require a turn for the 198k ridge top route that we did on the way back; the only exception being when Phil went the wrong side of a rock during an excursion down the Parcour to Cheval Blanc (just because we could) and had to wriggle his way up from the “weeds”. Final glide from the Dormillouse, where Phil topped up from his earlier error with a 5knot climb at 6.30 in the evening, was used for team formation photography. We all landed around 7.00pm to give time to prepare for the evening barbecue and relax after 5+ hours of flying.

Flight Traces, JB-red, Phil-blue, Matt-green

Thursday 21st - La Motte, Pre-Frontal Frolic

Phil heads for the Parcour along the convergence

Thursday started bright and sunny with the Meteo forecasting very unstable air and the risk of heavy showers and possibly Cu-nims developing later in the day. So we were all flying before 1pm and quickly climbed away from the valley of La Motte du Caire and headed for the higher mountains 25k to the east called the Parcour and then north across the Lac Serre Poncon to Morgon. The thermals were strong and with a convergence developing in the Seyne valley that threatened to over develop into a heavy shower, we headed west and then north to the west of Pic de Bure and along the really gnarly ridge to Grand tete L'Obiou about 50k NW of La Motte Du Caire. 

Matt was first to venture along the ridge while Phil and JB stopped to top up with a bit more height before braving the west side of the ridge. But more height was not to be had where we were searching. Egged on by Matt who said it was working well Phil headed north to join him while JB fell down and headed back to Pic de Burre for a climb. By the time he got to the mountain he was way down onto the tree covered slopes of the smaller hills to the SW of Pic De Bure before finding a climb which got him high enough to rejoin Matt and Phil back on the ridge. 
Phil against the Grand Ferrand 2700m

Re-united again, Matt and Phil made one last run north to Grand tete L'Obiou so that JB could also experience the epicness of that great gnarly gridge. (First time there for JB and Phil) 
JB alongside the Grand Ferrand

Then it was back to Pic De Bure and a romp home and on down to the Authon / Oribeau race track before returning to La Motte to get the gliders away into their trailers before the storm hit. (This of course guaranteed a fine evening with not a drop of rain!! )
Flight Traces - JB-blue, Phil-green, Matt-red

Wednesday 20th June

Well done to Pete St for trailing his Discus to The Park for the best day of the summer so far yesterday, despite best efforts to get North Hill open on a non-flying day.
Today, it started bright and with rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon, the two-seater list was very long. Everyone flew despite the occasional shower at lunchtime and the increasing dark sky to the south west. Tim J got the prize for the longest flight of 22mins.
Congratulations to Mark L for successfully navigating Mark C in the Rotax Falke to The Park and Compton Abbas, and following some field landing practice has been signed up for Cross country endorsement.

Pete & Jill ventured south to the cliffs in the Rotax Falke to check out the south easterly wind  options.

Tuesday 19th - La Motte, Grey sky walking

 A massive perturbation laying across our region brought overcast skies and drizzle scuppering any thoughts of flying, so after a relaxed lunch JB suggested that we set off for a walk in the mountains north of Gap, in the shadow of Pic de Bure from a little village called Rabou. We were joined by 2 Dutch guys , a German and an English lady from Parham who's father was a regular visitor to La Motte.

Call me Charles Atlas

We were up there in gliders the other day
Park here.

Monday 18th - La Motte, Too hot to fly

When even the world famous Jacques Noel can’t get away you know it’s time abandon any thoughts of trying to fly and head for the local stream with its water falls and deep pools! While Matt and JB raised the water level by about a foot with a cunningly constructed dam, Phil enjoyed a snooze on the rocks.
I'll just close my eyes for a bit.

Playing in the river
With the dam completed, Matt wandered off and later reappeared about 150ft above on small pinnacle of rock – The Statue de Matt – a la the ‘Statue of Christ’ at Rio de Jenero!  
I can see my house from here!

Sunday 17th - La Motte, Racking up the Superlatives

Ready for action
By about 2.00pm we were beginning to doubt the wisdom of yesterday’s self enforced day of rest. Baking hot and no thermals. After several abortive attempts to get away by the local experts one or two finally made it. So around 3.00pm the three amigos hurled ourselves into the air and after a bit of a struggle (for some) moved by the accepted route to Dormillouse and thence to the north side of the Barcelonnette valley. From here northward along a ridge with cavernous valleys on either side across the Col du Var toward Briancon (the highest city in Europe situated at the eastern end of the ski resort of Serre Chevalier). At the head of a valley running west from here lies the spectacular Glacier Blanc our secondary target for the day. The primary target, Monte Visio, just over the Italian border, lay shrouded in cloud and looked a bit too adventurous even for our brave boys. 

Phil Climbing the Barre des Ecrins
At the head of the glacier lies The Barre des Ecrins; climbing just above this to 4,100m (13,500ft) we set off back to return via the miniscule Pic du Bure, a mere 2,700m high. It was at this point that the parties got separated and JB took an alternative route whilst Matt closely followed by Phil tiptoed down another of those craggy ridges waiting for him to catch up. Matt back tracked at one point, to try and find JB, leaving Phil to wait nervously in a decaying thermal only a few meters above the ridge. In reality more worrying than dangerous because if he had fallen below the ridge line he could have flown out along the valley to arrive a mere 2,000 or so metres above St Crepin a local airfield (as long as he chose the correct side, that is!) 
Sense of scale

Going South

JB over Glacier Blanc
In the mean time JB had slipped past screaming down the valley of sink (his words) and somehow managed to pick up some wave to fly over the top of us. Re-united at the top of the Pic du Bure, Matt, followed by his faithful hound in 611, decided to investigate a dark cloud further to the west. Encountering a sustained attack of “off the scale sink” (a definite candidate for the record so far) the pair scuttled back to the comparative safety of the Pic cruising the southern flank to return to a sensible height for the final 30km glide back to La Motte. 
Heading for Pic de Bure
As it was fairly obviously where to go and he was on familiar territory Phil took the lead and was soon calling “La Motte, six cent onze, zone de pert altitude pour trente six” and landing up hill with a gentle tail breeze; standard practice for La Motte. Phil just had time to make a cup of tea, but not drink it, before Matt and JB returned from their customary tour of the Auribeau Race Track.
What a day! Phil’s first ever and JB’s first solo to the Glacier Blanc, you can only begin to get an idea of the spectacular views and breathtaking soaring from Matt’s photos, a lifetime experience!
Bloody epic!
Traces - Phil red, JB blue and Matt green

Sunday 17th June

Broken thermal activity during the morning until lunch when the forecast convergence cut it off. Although the convergence looked good and black, it wasn't working as expected as Rowan towed out to the southern edge and aborted the mission -scuttling back to the weak ridge lift.
Barbie is all ready to fly but seems to have forgotton the wings.
 Tom had one hour in the Junior. Andrew L tried out an aerotow in his K6 in preparation for the Talgarth trip.
Cheryl was re-acquainted with Pilatus B4 ready for the Camphill trip.
 Ron  was taken back to the site of his first solo near Bolt Head with Simon M in the Falke.
There were two trial lessons and some visitors from Open weekend returned to fly some more.

Friday 15th - La Motte, Blue Sky cruising

The 3 Amigo's
Friday dawned with a clear blue sky and hot with the threat of getting hotter. The gallant trio decided to make a late start if and when the mountain wind called the “Brise” established. We launched around 4.00pm and climbed on the Malup, and then sending Matt ahead across the valley of the river Durance we hoped to work our way north toward the Pic du Bure, the high mountain to the NW of Gap. Matt found a good thermal and thus encouraged JB and I followed to find very scrappy conditions after half an hour of scraping about I decided to return to the Malup and try more familiar ground to the east of La Motte. JB eventually climed enough to head north only to struggle again at the Petit Ceuse (one of the favourite jumping off points for gliders launching from Gap Tallard). 

Eastern face of Pic De Bure

Matt eventually made it to the Pic  then returned to join JB and I who were enjoying the rather easier conditions on the other side of the river. Some pleasant evening soaring was enjoyed by all three of us charging at Vne around the local “race track”; a pair of  vertical ridges 3k long, one in front of the other, namely the Mure d’Aribeau and Authon. Landing back at La Motte with the mandatory cheesy grins around 7.30 with plenty of soaring left but to give time to pack up and head for the local Pizzeria for the traditional Friday night out with the locals and other visitors

With a similar but even hotter forecast for Saturday it was decided to take the day off. Sunday is expected to be epic even by southern alps standards and a little R 'n R in preparation was felt to be called for. A short drive into the mountains which lie beneath yesterdays fun and games found a cool lake and a stunning view just what the doctor ordered.


Sundowners after a relaxing day

Friday 15th June - Course week

Friday – day 5 of the course and the weather gods who made it difficult yesterday finished the job today by huffing and puffing and trying to blow our clubhouse down. After several walks across the field to check the wind we gave up and Guy and John bored the course members with briefings until an early lunch was taken. Many thanks to Guy and John for Instructing and to Dick, Dick and William for running the field.

Thursday 14th - La Motte, Phil goes Solo

The 10:15 morning briefing contained the phrase "very very very good" and that pretty much set the tone for the day. Launching started around midday with gliders climbing off Early Morning, the hill on the south west corner of the airfield. I was the last to launch and discovered that everyone else had used up all the "Early Morning" lift and unceremoniously found myself back on the ground. On my second launch I managed to coax half a knot off the scree slope on Blachere (1238m hill on the eastern side of the airfield) which eventually strengthened to 5knots and got me up to join JB and Phil who had been twiddling their thumbs waiting.
Phil on the Parcour

Lac De Serre Poncon

From there we set off eastwards, via couple of mountain stepping stones, turning south on the Parcour and steadily climbing up to 2900m alongside the snow covered peak of Tete de l'Estrop. At the North end of the Parcour near Lac de Serre Poncon we turned east towards Barcelonnette following the ridge line around to the north and then jumping across the St Crepin valley onto Prachaval which was working very well with the valley breeze. To the north Glacier Blanc was gleaming in the afternoon sun nestled between the sheer rock faces of its valley walls. We ventured towards it but couldn't find a climb which would put us onto Tete d'Amont at a sensible height so fell back to Prachaval to begin our return to La Motte via a bit more playing on the Parour, eventually landing after 6 and a half hours of cheesy grinning epicness.

Day 3 Flight tracks, blue JB, green Phil, red Matt

Thursday 14th June - Course week

The forecast predicted a morning of flying before the wind picked up too much and the rain started, and so it was.
New member Paul with John
The south ridge wasn't working very well, but managed to extend some circuits when cloudbase permitted.
Tony, Guy and Robin

 Both course members and Thursday regulars sampled the changing conditions before the enforced packing up at lunchtime. The course members, instructors and helpers  and a few hangers-on gathered at The Keepers Cottage for a traditional course dinner.

Wednesday 13th - La Motte, A bit of everything

A good forecast today, still with a predominantly  north westerly airflow, an unstable airmass and no showers expected. The cloud base was not particularly high only about 7500' amsl which had the higher peaks of the Parcour deep in the clouds. Phil was flying with Christian again in the K21 venturing east to Blayeul before returning west onto Mountain de Lure looking for wave.

Meanwhile JB and I made our way east hoping to get to the Parcour but the wind seemed to be playing havoc with the thermals and getting back would have had us very low in dragon country and without a reliable valley breeze to make sense of where to look for a climb. So we went west instead and over to Serres, home airfield of Klaus Ohlmann, before turning south towards Mt de Lure and bumped into wave in the lee of Chabre which took us above the clouds to about 9500' and spectacular views.

Vultures aren't scared of sharks