17 July 2005

Sunday morning - Pointe de Ressachaux

We're a bit in a rush today, as Michael and Olivia have to be back in town for twelve o'clock. The destination is La Pointe de Ressachaux, near Morzine.
Lys Martagon
We leave the cars near the landing, a sloping field outside Morzine, and start walking up. The slope is very steep at the beginning, but Michael assures us there's a gentle slope higher up. The forest and the angle of the slope keep us in the shade and spare us from direct sunlight, so the climb is relatively cool. After about 45 minutes strenuous uphill, we get to a group of chalets, and the path is flat... for about 5 minutes. It then resumes at the same angle for another 45 minutes before we reach the top. The South-Westerly announced by the met office has not materialised, and there are fairly steady gusts sideways on the slope. We lay our wings and get ready to take off.
On the right of us, much lower, is an impressive range of rock faces and we hope we'll catch some thermals there to prolong our flight.
The tandem flyers take off first, as is the custom. Then Maurice attempts a take-off, but a sudden gust from the side unbalances his wing and he has to abort his run a few meters below me. I wait for a long time, and finally take off in zero wind. The length of the run surprises me somehow, but after a final push I feel my wing lift me. It's the thrill and the joy of being airborne again. I cross the valley below to get to the rock-face as soon as possible. I can see several tandem wings there, but can't recognise anybody from our group at this distance. A few minutes later, I can see that Michael and Olivia are just at the top of the faces, heading for the landing spot.

I decide to follow them, gliding parallel to the cliff faces. The air is quite turbulent above those cliffs, I decide to maintain a straight flight, foregoing flight duration for a calmer glide and follow them to the landing spot.

We're in a rush, so we leave as soon as our wings are folded. Fabienne and Gwen have landed before us, and they're not in a rush, so they decide to stay and have another flight above Morzine. Unfortunately, the conditions deteriorated and they had a mishap on landing that will keep Fabienne in pain for a few months with a broken pelvis, and Gwen for a shorter time with torn calf muscles...

Technical data: Flight duration 0:20, Take-off altitude: 2129m, Maximum altitude reached: 2129m, Total climb during flight: 134m, Max rate of climb: +2.0m/s, Max descent rate: -3.8m/s, Landing altitude: 800m.


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