On Mon our trip started in Edmonton with me (Evo) being logged in my XCskies and looking for potential good XC weather in the mountains and my brother driving. First target was Golden,BC but rainy weather slashed our XC dreams for next day. So we continued to long missed Okanagan.
Forecast was looking great for Lumby with excellent laps rate and wind direction for a potential flight to Revy. Between Revy and Vernon we were planning the flight and potential routes in regards to conditions. Arriving late in Kelowna went to bed tired but full of good dreams for next day.
Tues June 4-th woke up and looked outside. At 9am nice puffy cumulus clouds were building already. We loaded our gear and headed out to Coopers. By the way the day was looking our dreams for an epic flight were one step closer. We caught a ride with cool HG pilots at Randy's place and Fred was kind enough to drive the truck down. On launch there was 7-8 pilots waiting for conditions to pick up. By the time we got ready fairly good cycles started coming. We launched a bit after noon time. Alex on Gradient Avax XC3 (an classic EN-D wing) and me on my new baby Aircross U6 Comp wing(a second generation true 2 riser design).
We immediately started pushing toward Silverstar as the clouds were forming on the S facing side. On the way there we encountered some rough air but strong thermals that were accompanied by strong sink as well. Between Silverstar and Trinity valley we were pretty much under cloud base. We were pushing speed bar to 50% only as was giving us best glide/speed and safety in respect to the strong conditions. With the new generation gliders 2010 and up steering with the rear risers when on speed bar is a superior way on controlling AoA and preventing collapses and worst, frontals. At this manner the 2 riser designs are phenomenal for glide/speed and control on the B lines anytime when not thermaling- a little info for HG pilots and people not familiar with the advantages of rear riser control. Back to the story now...
When we crossed Trinity Valley we found a weak choppy thermal that increased in strength and took us to cloud base. From there we continued pushing over the highest picks behind Mara Launch. Sky was looking excellent towards Revy, a nice cloud street which we thought will be able to use but soon to be proved wrong. Under cloud base to the corner over Sicamous where clouds overshadowed and S wind increased even more we had to turn left and push out toward town of Sicamous. When faced S my gps showed me only 30km ground speed even though I was on one of the faster available gliders. Speed bar helped a lot but air became very rough with chopped strong thermal cores and mechanical turbulence from the close coming saddle mountain hills. We kept fighting strong head wind and started planning to land in Sicamous but just when we started losing hope for continuing our dream flight we found a lee side thermal over a small galley that was breaking the strong wind coming around the corner of the mountain range. Drifting and slowly climbing we continued further down the range with Revy straight E from where we were. Further down in the Valley wind speed decreased and thermals became solid and powerful with climbs around 5-7m/s. Last thermal with my brother Alex was about 10-15km before last ridge at 3 Valley gap. He decide to take few extra turns to gain more needed altitude and I pushed towards the 3 Valle gap. On the west facing slope just before 3 Valle gap I encountered my last thermal that took me for to cloud base at 3100m
Looking E and ready to head to Revy I encountered again the strong wind form S coming down Mable lake valley. The most logic to me made to use the wind to take me to the SE facing slope over the 3Valley Gap hotel and hope to get support from the wind as this side of the mountain was shaded. At the same time I was ready for a fight with expected strong turbulence in the narrow valley in regards to the strength of the tail wind.
Unbelievable for me I had the smoothest longest final glide of 26km,with minimum sink and max speed of 72km all the way to Revy. Arriving in Revy happily at 1900m.
Landed exhausted but full of great emotions. Worried for my brother where he ended up I received a phone called form him to tell me he landed safely right by the 3 Valley Gap hotel and was enjoying a beer there. Fred Willson provided me with cell number for Alan Polster, local pilot who was kind enough to give me a ride to 3 Valley Gap hotel where Fred came from Vernon to pic us up..
A very memorable adventure end happily ever after
My first ever written para-story is long but hope not boring for reading. Enjoy!
Wish every pilot lots of long, safe and happy flights
p.s. Looking forward for the next one...