Columbia Trip 2015

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Mark Tulloch
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:10 am

Postby Mark Tulloch » Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:33 am

Day 12
Jean approaching base, photo by Manu
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Sunset from the open air mountainside restaurant, photo by Karin
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Mark Tulloch
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:10 am

Postby Mark Tulloch » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:50 am

Day 13 It’s a beautiful morning on the side of the mountain. No traffic, no church bells, just roosters and dogs. It’s a different kind of quiet!
We have breakfast at the same restaurant, like there is any choice! It’s the best breakfast we’ve had in 2 weeks. You definitely can’t judge this book by its cover. Food to match the view!
After breakfast we discuss flying plans and all decide to hike to launch. Apparently it is only a 20 minute walk. 20 minutes up a 20-30 degree incline! 30 minutes for some. We arrive at the top to a beautifully sculpted launch area with caretakers cutting the grass and leaving the flowers! There is a shade area with a hammock and a concession with cold drinks! This is one of the main sites for pilots from Cali and they have it well organized.
It’s just us on launch with perfect conditions. Later in the day other locals will arrive and fly. After a cold drink and catching our breath we layout and start launching. Everyone goes up. Base is around 2400 meters and will rise later in the day to 2800. Eric and I top out and head out towards the LZ where a few clouds are forming. He finds something but I get nadda so head back to the mountain. Ron, Jean and Jean Philippe are all climbing behind launch but I find a strong core out in front. They spot my climb and all come join. As I hit base I head towards Sanata Helena, the mid-point of the first leg of our planned triangle. I get a great line with buoyant air for the first half of the glide, barely losing anything. I hit good lift and start climbing and see the other three following and Manu lower out ahead of us. It looks like a street is setting up all the way to Cerrito, the first turn point. I top out and have such nice clouds ahead I don’t wait for the others to group up but lead out. Again the cloud wisps are forming in front of me close enough to the line I want to follow that I again get a great glide over to where Manu is climbing. I hit the same lift and top out again. Looking back I see Jean and Jean Pierre but it looks like Ron has turned back. I leave Jean and JP with Manu still climbing and shoot for a cloud about halfway to Cerrito. I see it is dissolving as I approach and the nearest other clouds are too far north to head for. I decide to keep gliding for Cerrito, angling south a kilometer or so where there are some big dirt fields. I arrive there with good height still and find strong lift on the edge and radio back to the others. As I climb I see only Manu and Jean Pierre gliding in below me, Jean has headed back. I watch the others below as I climb and Manu works light lift while JP searches all around, eventually landing close to town. I still have no clouds over town but want to reach the bridge for my turn point so when I top out I see Manu still climbing and figure I have time to go north and get back in time to use the same thermal he is in. I make the glide, getting no lift, and get back and come in about 100 meters below Manu. He has a better core and gets more separation and eventually heads south towards the second turn point. Finally I find the good climb and top out and head south too. We don’t find much enroute and glide all the way there and find separate cores, drifting together about the same height on the west side of town. We top out and take one more climb on the way back and glide back from there.
Laura, Ron, Karin and Monique had landed earlier and Jena Philippe grabbed a shared cab back quickly after landing so everyone but Ron went back up and all got high again to add a few more hours to their log books. All but the Canadians are leaving Saturday morning so it’s off to dinner and an evening of packing, cerveza and a debriefing of the tour for the guides. Officially it’s over but we will fly Saturday and head to the airport very early Sunday morning for the long flight home.
Mark on the last leg of today's triangle
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Karin hammock soaring after flying
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Launch from my hammock
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Mark Tulloch
Posts: 41
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:10 am

Postby Mark Tulloch » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:03 pm

Day 14 The car for Ron arrives early at 5 instead of 5:30 and he’s off. At 5:30 the car for Ron arrives and Manu knocks on our door looking for Ron. “He’s gone” I say to a surprised look. One upset driver! Luckily he is the hotel owner’s brother so he grabs a spare bed and waits for the second group. Later in the morning Manu figures out that the back-up option arrived without really being booked and scooped the ride! The taxi takes the Europeans later in the morning but won’t come back tomorrow for us as planned. We’ll have to hire a more expensive ride but c’est la vie. We’ll be on the road at 4:45 Columbia time.
It’s cloudier this morning with a thick overcast. By 10 cu’s are forming in the overcast. Laura decides to walk down to check out a 200 year old house, the famous Casa Maria. I decide to hike to launch about 1 and Karin and Monique follow about 45 minutes later. A group of Brits is out today as well as many local tandem and solo pilots. The tandems are well organized and about 8 of them each do 6 or 7 today. When I get to launch it is getting dark with overdevelopment and those that are high and far from the hill stay in good lift but the mountain is fully shaded and everyone goes to the bottom. I hold off as the town out front about 10km is in sun and yesterday the same thing happened then opened up again. The girls arrive and get the wings laid out. They are switching wings today, they switched harnesses yesterday. I had hoped to fly Eric’s small Diamir yesterday but he preferred not to switch and I also realized that flight that my glider goes really good and it’s in great shape so I should probably stick with it until I fly something that convinces me otherwise.
Conditions improve and I’m off and climbing. They follow and find lift along the spines. My thermal goes all the way to base and its buoyant all around. I fly deeper into the back and get some great shots of the mountains behind the mountains behind the mountain we are flying. I come back out and jump the gap to the north but the clouds there dissipate on my arrival. As I glide back I see them far to the south and higher. I get back to the main spine below launch and find the house thermal. As they come back against the wind they get lower and work the second spine. Karin does some glide tests and exploring in the valley eventually landing at the regular LZ. I’ve got my eye on the launch and top landing there and set up several circuits to scope it out and once the thermal going through launch finally stops I drop it in on the back ledge for a perfect finish to the day. Top land, pack up, grab a beer at the concession, walk downhill to the hotel – Perfect! Monique goes out front and lands with Karin and they walk back up to the hotel. [Karin's version: we hiked back up the 500 meter vertical face of the mountain, through the slippery mud sections like mountain goats, eventually summitting at the hotel where we found the coldest beer in Columbia and an even colder shower.
So that’s it, for now. See you at the re-pack then let’s get out flying!

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