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X-PYR: Day 6

Published on
01 July 2022

Bad times, good times…

I packed all my gear in the morning. Quite a lot extra today with a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food etc due to yesterday’s eventful end of the day.

My flexible Niviuk Race rucksack (50 liters) with its many pockets and flexible bands did the job even with a Vol Biv setup.

Even though I had a relatively short climb this morning, it was hard enough. I had no path to follow, and “off piste” in the Pyrenees is challenging due to vegetation. When at the top the wind was noticeable. So was the inversion. I’m not a person who is made for waiting, and now it was time to wait for the conditions to improve. Time to fight my instincts…

After some waiting I felt the condition were improving, the inversion was not that visible anymore, and I was keen to go. It was only a few kilometers between me and a big group of pilots in the mid pack of the race. I wanted to join that group today.

In the air the wind was present (as every day), and the thermals didn’t go very high. But it was on. Slow, but on. Still early. Or at least early for today’s conditions. 

The lack of alternative landings had not changed from yesterday, and there were no options in the most direct routing. In addition, airspace restrictions made it impossible to jump one ridge further back where it would have been more comfortable to soar the mountains in these conditions. All this, together with my experience from yesterday, made me choose a safer route towards TP3. My safe choice of route, this early in the day, forced me to land way too early. I was frustrated and a bit angry with myself. First of all I was too early in the air (no one else flew in that area until 1,5 hrs later) and secondly I was probably not reset and properly rested from yesterday, and my decisions in the air were influenced by that.

Time to reset! Only one option: Hike back up! I got rid of all my camping gear, had a decent meal and hiked back up together with my supporter, Knut!

Knut is great on occasions like this. Always positive, smiling and joking. Makes it easier for me to change focus from the errors and mistakes, and rather look ahead for what we can do to improve the situation. 

At the top we found a suitable area to launch. A quick setup and I was ready to go. I expected the conditions to be good since it was 16:00 and the sun was at its most powerful. We also had some strong gusts on our way up the mountain indicating thermal activity. But it was surprisingly difficult to get away from the mountain. The meteo wind destroyed the thermals and I had to spend some time before I found the formula on how to drift my way over the top.

I got enough altitude to continue my glide towards TP3. I reached Mt. Corronco low, but I was able to soar up the south side in quite strong wind. Tagget the turnpoint in the air and continued towards TP4. In the air I hooked up with Nicolas Hayes from Argentina and we flew together most of the flight this evening. We landed together in a narrow valley close to Mt Aneto, and both teams decided to stay at the local hotel for the night. Luxury, and a nice way to end an eventful day with both bad times and good times.

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