This year we decided to combine the yearly visit to Germany with a trip to Slovenia and check out Tolmin and Kobarid. The cities are in the Julian Alps, the eastern extension of the Dolomites. As the name suggests, it’s a limestone/dolomite range. The Soča river in the main valley is well known in the kayaking world for its turquoise whitewater. The highest peak is Triglav (2864m), closer to the flying sites Krn (no idea how to pronounce it… 2244m). Cloud base never got above 1800m for us and we didn’t see much of the big mountains. Nevertheless the flying was nice and good enough to go cross country (+60km for Pete with a little cross border flight into Italy and +40km for yours truly) from the Tolmin launch called Kobala. Sadly a front rolled through the Alps and strong west wind put an end to the good conditions after only two days. We didn’t get to launch from Stol (the launch near the town Kobarid) but got to check it out from the air when we flew over it from Tolmin on the days before.
Too much wind in Tolmin had us search for other flying sites. The go-to bad weather spot is Bassano in Italy on the southern edge of the Alps. But since many pilots are looking for a fly-able site it makes for dense traffic and fish bowl style flying. Just like on our first visit a couple of years back the fishbowl was very murky and the air so hazy that we could barely see the ground. The south wind may be the culprit as fellow Canadian pilot Daniel suggested. It didn’t help the crowded feeling that many pilots had their own opinion where the best lift was and different interpretations of ridge-rules. After getting tired dodging other paragliders and hangliders I tried my luck out front and found a nice thermal expecting everybody to rush over to join. To my surprise I was still alone after a 400 meter climb. Even the pilot next to me kept circling patiently in his zeros below.
On the way to back to Munich we stopped at Werfenweng near Salzburg to fly Bischling. A fun flying site! It’s like small Dolomites with limestone cliffs and towers of the Tennengebirge 5 km across from launch. Although it is a popular site most of the pilots are students in training who launch, land and return. That makes for good entertainment over a coffee from the restaurant next to launch while waiting for conditions to turn on.
Some of the great things about flying in European are gondola access, restaurants at launch and landing, lots of flying sites; but the crowds can be a bit annoying. And with the end of the tourist/hiking season many gondolas shut down or operate only on weekends, so it’s a good idea to check before making plans. There are no lifts in Tolmin and Kobarid (or in Bassano). Vans drive up to launch from the LZs. The vans can be busy and it helps to call ahead to reserve a spot. For weather forecasts we used Wetterfex.com.
Looking west from Kobala
Tennengebirge from Bischling Launch
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