Today we hooked up with Nicolas Hayes at breakfast. We discussed the options on how to get over to France and further northwest towards TP4. There were two different passes to choose from to get across to the French side. Nicolas knew some pilots in the area and we got some tips on where to go.
We geared up and started hiking. As we started the ascent we saw Greg Hammerton hiking towards the other pass. We discussed our options a little, and concluded it would probably not be that much different. This pass or the other. Potato potato…
As we approached the pass over to France the wind increased rapidly and was funneled through the pass. Major rotor on the French side. Our plan to launch high on the lee side and catch the early thermals on the east facing side was impossible to execute, and we had to walk quite far down (below the inversion) and into France before we found an acceptable area to launch. Unfortunately for us we saw Greg on the livetrack. He was able to launch, climb high, and continue towards TP4. In hindsight it was of course a much better choice of route. More protected from the wind compression, and less hostile terrain on the French side.
Anyway, Nicolas and I were finally able to launch and continue towards Luchon. Some weak thermals made us extend the glide past the airport in Luchon, but no further. Stable, and surprisingly strong valley wind from the north. Headwind. Hard to make progress by flying. The only good option was to walk to the end of the valley and see if we were able to continue flying towards TP4 there.
As we walked we calculated our speed, the elevation, and the deadline at 21:00 to see if we could make it to the top of Pic du Gar. Tight, but we decided to give it a try. It would be great to finish the race in the air. Both our teams helped us with supply of food, water, and whatever required for us to keep going. Nicolas had his father and brothers supporting him. Great people, and really nice to get to know them all!
At the peak our options to launch were not as good as we expected. In the end we decided to give it a try from an area of tall stinging nettles. A weak breeze, and we both took off at the same time and glided together towards TP4. Since Pic du Gar is at 1900 meters the glide was long, and lasted for 25 minutes.
We landed 5 minutes before the deadline. A good way to end the day, and the race, even if this was not a great day for us.