...or fly when the others are scared because of the weather…
Our camping site is so awesome that I’m now jealous of it. Next to a burbling icy cold brooklet with beautiful scenery of rocks taking my breath away and Marek is close to tears as he doesn’t have the gear with him and there’s no time for climbing. As I’m walking up the mountain, not really awake, I jump from rock to rock, catching up with a Spaniard breathing heavily like puffs from a steam locomotive. He can’t speak the imperialistic (English) language very well so the discussion isn’t wort a dime.
It’s a pity that it blows quite heavily trough the saddle I’m about the cross and reach the ridge… maybe too heavily. Well, saddle, morning… it’ll get better, I think naively…
But the saddle is like a gate into another world… plateau… and on the right and on the left I see rocky scenery and wind is pushing against me. On the rocks, just by the way, some vultures are sitting and croaking at one another. Now and then some of them get bored, take wings and soar to the eastern slope and at nine they climb not much of a thermal with the crosswind and disappear.
As I’m walking I’m looking for some water source… well, none, as usually and I have only one litre left and one and a half hour until the take off.
I have two options for the take off. The first one includes taking off from a rocky cliff with the wing in the lee and actually down the hill since the summit is vertical from the south and in falls immediately, although with the grassy part but full of sharp limestone razor blades perfect for cutting the wing lines. The other option is quite a nice but pretty steep meadow not far away, but it’s right above the ridge, which won’t do any good, I mean, once there will be a thermal from SW, then from SE, that’s not good. Since there’s plenty of time I unpack my staff, the trekking poles serve as a construction and my primaloft is hung between them and creates emergency shade. Because you know, besides water there’s nothing here, not even a bush, just rocks, stones, stones once again and few clumps of grass here and there. Why do I mention it that much? You know, I walked around like an idiot because it was always the same story. I saw a place bit farther that looked better than the one I just arrived at… few clumps of grass were hiding all the rocks from my view. So I made next ten steps and saw that it’s not much better. But, look, that spot seems to be better… so I walked and walked and all my hopes for a better spot for my Avax were in vain.
At half past eleven I unpack the wing but I’m not sure about that… those few clumps of grass are lying on the ground like nailed, the birds of prey are soaring at 1/3 the wing area and as soon as they spread their wings fully, they disapear somewhere behind the ridge… :D It’s simply blowing like from the asses of all thirty-seven Hannibal’s elephants that were passing by to Rome years ago, all at once… fortunately they are now six feet under but still kind of breathing too heavily. After few tries and few close encounters of the third kind with rocks, I manage to get the wing into the flight mode, and in the last moment it drops down like a stone. That wouldn’t have finished well, I mean, it would be way too bloody.
What to do next? It looks like my livetrack isn’t working; there’s almost no signal even for my phone so I gave it a thought. Finally, I decide to traverse approx. 1,800 m along the ridge in the right direction. Why? I don’t feel like walking down the valley to take some water and lose 1,000 m of altitude and right away climb 500 m up another ridge. So I’m breaking my legs walking along chamois trails, gravel, rocks and other comfy staff. I just watch my steps, as once I almost slipped on a gravel field and only then I noticed that the slope can be something like 45° steep and after two meters of gravel there’s a precipice steep like hell, so if I have really tried it, I would have finished like minced meat for sausages.
Well, never mind, I have to go on and concentrate more, not just walk. I reached a spot where the wind was not that bad, there’s even some grass, not only rocks, but what’s even better is that I’m hidden behind a ridge, which calms down the wind a bit, and the lower altitude is also an advantage. Of course I’m scared like hell; all my determination was consumed by the one-hour attempt to take off in 12 m/s. My heart sank with the thoughts: what if there is no chance with the headwind? Behind me, there are slopes, cliffs, precipices full of sharp rock, but the main thing is that I’ve never seen them before, only from satellite :D I can say for sure that I won’t be able to land, for sure not behind the main ridge… How it is blowing up there? I can only guess with certainty that is almost uncertain...there’s not even a single could, which could help me to figure out the speed and direction.
Not for the first time and not for the last I leave the ground with just one wish… Did I guess it correctly, didn’t I!?!
I’m taken upwards straight ahead like smoke through the chimney, taken by the thermal towards the bright blue sky. When I look at it now, I can say that it wasn’t that bad, sure, the thermals were strong, the wind as well, but nothing that couldn’t be managed somehow. You know, the determination or the general mental toughness is like any other muscle; it can get tired or exhausted. I climb a bit, try as hard as possible. While jumping over the first valley, besides thinking about that bullshit I’ve just made, I’m watching the narrow valley behind me full of trees and rocks. Good for me, I’m not about to land. On the next ridge I’m a bit braver and climb into maybe 2,700 – 2,800. I try as hard as possible to get to the next beautiful rocky ridge, the last one before the jump backwards into the mountains to get the TP3, Anayet. Two-and-half-thousand-meter-high mountain not far from Candachú. I climb a strong thermal along with a glider into maybe 3,500 and it disappears like a shot and I’m getting nailed down to the ground. Well… I flew over to another mountain from that altitude, climbed a bit… took a deep breath and let’s go with the wind backwards again. Groundspeed around 70 km/h. Great! The thermal right before the TP makes LEGO out of me; I do everything possible and impossible. If I was standing on the ground, one would think that I’m practising for Spartakiad… I’m watching the wing and listening to skydrop all the time… when it’s over I have 8plus meter… in the half turn it gives me 3.5 m/s down, that is 10 m/s difference in just 3 seconds… mmm… I’d call it a Spanish washing machine. I swear to myself that after turning Anayet I will land, it’s not worth it… now there’s only one thing on my mind, to escape without getting killed. Looking backwards: it wasn’t that bad, but I was shit-scared and that played a role. Well, what to add… I pushed my limits, again...
I barely manage to catch a glimpse of a certain giant, Pic du Mudi du Osssau. What a monolith of pure rock, that is something! I guess it has something like 400-500 m and is towering from a grassy plateau like a king from ancient times. I’m woken up from this romantic dreaming by Avaxiáš underneath me… Heyy, watch out! When I manage to get it into the correct position again, happy as a clam, I’m watching towards an open and pretty landing-friendly valley. I land on a beach, with shaking legs, trembling voice and bleeding nose. I put myself together and continue running along a dam. Legs relaxed a bit and with adrenaline in my blood I can continue bravely on the ground. After maybe 10 km I see three locals flying, well I should rather say, standing in the air high above the valley. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have got much farther, and if… I would have had no place to land. I overtook few guys; I’m alive and healthy… What a beautiful day!
In the evening, Guiseppe is trying to land flying backwards on big ears and full speed, Zlatko rather landed after few meters.
We set up a camp underneath a 2,000 m high mountain, from which I would like to leapfrog in the morning because there will be a front, so I want to be up as soon as possible and fly at least something. We are caught up by the organiser, they want some videos J
Evergreen of the contest cuisine, pasta with everything you can imagine and let’s go into my brand new sleeping bag. Sweet dreams!
I walked approx. 27 km, climbed 700 m and flew around 35 km, not the best performance, but I didn’t kill myself J
The first three guys are far, far away, flying in weaker wind, and so they finished just before TP7 today. Maurer even managed to fly down into the valley…NEXT DAY--->