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20141225_153526A Merry Christmas and a happy new year from

Erik, Katia, Penny and Max.

“Time is like a flowing river, no water passes beneath your feet twice, much like the river, moments never pass you by again, so cherish every moment that life gives you and have a wonderful New Year.”

 

Are paragliding competitions good or bad?

I used to hate paragliding “comps” (competitive events), but started to enjoy participating in them since I was at the”Serial Cup” last year in Slovenia.

The main reason why I did not like them is that you had to fly a hot glider and the guy with the biggest balls had the best chances. This statement can easily backed up with the accident statistics.

At the last years “Serial Cup” it was fun, safe and very educational as the tasks where designed for average pilots flying average wings.

Following are some questions which cover what I like and not like about competitions.

Why are we going to competitions?

I think to have fun, meet new people, measure your self (same category of wings, tasks and conditions), experience and share the same with your peers.

What do I not like about competitions?

Can easily push you flying in conditions you normally would not fly in. It also can make you use equipment you should  not be flying and can make you a nervous pilot.

I just came back from the Canadian Paragliding Nationals in Pemberton.

I only could join the event for a couple of days as I needed to head back to do my part for the upcoming www.LakesideEvent.com. Pemberton is a great site and has super nice people. Thanks again to everyone for your hospitality and kindness. I loved it and and I will be back again.

Now thinking about the Nationals a couple days after, the only part I did not like too much (and this has nothing to do with the site and organizers) is that the Nationals are advertised for everyone, but the tasks are designed that only by about 10-20% of the participants make goal. Less then a quarter of the pilots were using the high end “D” wings which do have a definite advantage to finish the tasks and a big part of the remaining pilots get discouraged. It was interesting to observe how many people measured themselves in what they fly and how a lot of others where not so proud to state they would “only” fly a “B” rated wing.

I think the overall concept of Paragliding competitions need to be evaluated.

Right now we do have a hand full of pilots training for competitions and using the best available equipment, then we have the “wana be” comp pilots flying wings they should not fly and then we have the average to good pilots flying “B” rated wings.

If I would compare this to the car racing world, this would mean our competitions are done by Formula 1 pilots, “wana be” Formula 1 pilots/wings, “standard sports car” wings and pilots.

Seeing it from this perspective, this does not make a lot of sense.

I am all for the “Formula 1” races (wings/pilots) and they should compete at the “Paragliding World Cup” series only and the rest should focus on the main group of people the organizers are advertising to.

With this statement, I like to stress that I am in full support of the organizers of the current Canadian Nationals in Pemberton, but I think we need to re-think to who we want to cater our only official Canadian Paragliding competition to, in the future. I think we have a lot of recreational Canadian pilots who like to go to a competitions to learn, have fun and maybe to evolve into the professional paragliding circuit.

 

For the last 4 years I have now guided several Dolomite Paragliding tours for www.BlueSky.at. Susanne and Stefan decided to offer a Canadian Rockies Paragliding tour this summer and within a short time the tour was sold out.On June 14th Nathan and I headed to Vancouver to pick up the BlueSky group (15 pilots incl. Susanne and Stefan) from the Vancouver airport. The group was a mixture of couples and guys from any sort of life and varying from a wide range of ages (up to 72 years).The first stop was Pemberton. The weather was not favorable for flying, so we spend the 3 days doing the tourist thing in Whistler and checked out the new launch site Jim and Corinne (and local pilots) are setting up for the coming up Canadian Nationals. The next stop was Vernon. We got some nice flights going from “King Eddy” (near Vernon) and at “Coopers”(in Lumby). The 3rd stop was in Golden followed with an evening flight at Mt. Seven. Part of the group stayed at Hugo and Brandy’s place and at Sandor Lake. We got one day of good flying conditions in Golden and spend then a day for Lake Emerald, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise and other attractions within the Banff and Yoho National Park. The last stop was in Invermere with a flight from Mt. Swansea and other local activities. It was a great 2 weeks, to get more details about the tour, simply check out the

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pictures below.

Click here for more pictures from BlueSky.at

It is already March and very soon the flying season will start. In April we will start to do our first xc flights

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from Panorama Mountain Resort and once the road is open to Mt. Swansea (beginning to mid May), flying will be at its strongest season.To keep us up to date on Reserves and getting some reserve tossing practice in, we headed to Calgary last weekend and attended the “Reserve Clinic/Repack” with Muller Windsports. They had a great turn out and it was super to see people we have not seen for a long time. Something that came to mind when discussing what radio channels to use and how to react when someone comes down on a reserve, was my SPOT. I suggested to use a SPOT and to have the “Golden flying website” add a page where every pilot can register their public SPOT URL. With this system, pilots flying XC can be located and one can see where he/she is currently flying or hiking and their “OK” or “HELP calls. Strangley enough I received a very negative response to the SPOT, which left me a bit confused, as it seems to me, an obvious choice in locating pilots. At the completion of the clinic, Bruce Busby, who was one person who thought it was a great idea, discussed this option further with me. He is considering presenting it to the HPAC board to see if this could be implemented on the HPAC website. The SPOT is great to locate someone for a rescue, but how many times do we worry about others as to where they are and if they need help or not? Now if this gets implemented to the HPAC website, everyone could see where pilots are, if they are okay if they had to land way back in the mountains, or had to use their reserve, or simply need a retrieval after a long flight. Thanks again to Vincene for hosting this great event and thanks to Bernand for repacking both Penny’s and my reserve packs so quickly, in order for us to get back to Invermere so soon for another event!

 

 

The DiscoveryChannel came to Invermere to report about “Gigantic” things. We thought that gives me some good reason to get some more airplane hour under

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my belt. The WhiteWay (19 km) is going for a Guinness record as the biggest maintained ice rink. Nick Bernzin and my self started the idea and and connected the right people to make it happen several years ago. Who would have thought it would get this big? You can see the episode form the Daily Planet at http://watch.discoverychannel.ca/#clip619031 Here are a couple pictures we took from the air.

Happy New Year / Einen guten rutsch in neue Jahr

We wish you all a healthy and successful 2012.

Wir wuenschen allen ein Gesundes und erfolgreiches 2012

Thanks for everyone of who could make it for the presentation. I got told there where about 160 people in the room and it seamed no one was bored with our plus 2 hour presentation.
Andy and I had a ton of fun and even learned more about the race while doing the presentation.
After all, what really counts to have a great time with your loved once, friends, learn more and pass on the positive energy.
Thanks again for everyone to make this such a great event.

October 25th 2011 at 20:00 Uhr
xAlps 2011 Presentation with Andy Froetscher (Italy) and Max & Penny (Canada) in Munich

For the Paragliding Club “Bodenlosen” in Munich we will do a presentation about the 2011 race together
More details at
http://www.bodenlos.de/aktiv/2011_10_25_Xalps.php 

Bion 37 - flying with the kidsAfter the xAlps we spent some quality time with the family and bought a new Bion 37 (Tandem from Nova). The kids love it and I am very impressed with the handling and performance. After a couple flights with the kids (and Penny flying beside us) we headed down south to Tolmin, Slovenia for the “Serial Cup”. I normally do not fly competitions at all, but this was a great opportunity to combine a couple things at once, such as meeting Brigitta & Dushan, getting to go to Slovenia and meet other new people. The campground Gabrje (at Gabrje) is new and has it’s own landing site and is beside the river (Soca) and below Mrzli.vrh (1306 m high peak). The river is cold, but the kids and Penny didn’t seem to mind, and with such hot days, they were in it every day! Mrzli.vhr is a great mountain to start the day, and there is nothing better to start it with a 1100 meter hike ending at a huge grass field to enjoy the 1st flight of the day. I was lucky with the weather and time to be able to hike it 3 mornings. One morning, Dusan and Idris ( from the UK) joined me, which made this even a better experience.
The comp was very well organized and it is very different and pretty cool to have everything organized for you.
Photo by Hans ter Maat This starts with: when to get up, when to get into the bus, where to fly and when to launch. And to top it off, you fly with a lot of very nice people showing you where it works or not.
The only problem I had was that I enjoyed flying way too much and it took me a while to get into the racing grove. At this cup there where a lot of pretty serious people and in a very short time it was very easy to get behind. First I felt a bit ashamed to be on the slow end but realized pretty quickly that only 1/3 of the pilots were flying up to DHV 2 wings. Now I fly the Mentor2, which is a great and fun wing, but when you race mostly on speed-bar beside the other DHV2 and 2-3 wings, you can see the difference. I was much slower. After I looking down to Tolmintalked to a lot of the other pilots racing very seriously

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about the flights, such as the Adriatic cost line, and certain peaks and other landmarks, I realized that most did not see and experience the flight like I did. Most of them could tell me how beautiful it was before the race started and after that they only saw their instruments and the other pilots, and did not even look around to enjoy the beauty and scenery away and beyond. Well, I guess that is what a race is all about. I think if you have flown here (or anywhere) a couple times, it is easier to get into this “race” mode.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this “organized x-country flying” where you do not need to think about the weather forecast, where to go, how to get back and you meet and party with a lot of new people.
The meet was great, we could fly every day, the organizers and campground staff were great and the rest of the family had a blast as well. Penny would have liked to have flown more, but she did manage to get a few in. We will be back when we are in Europe again.
After the meet we headed down south to Rovinj (Croatia) to spend a couple days at the Adriatic sea on the beach. It was like a different world and just fantastic. Rovinj is a must see town and we really loved to walk through the little streets and checking out the little stores and buildings. When we were heading back to Germany, we agreed to come back again.

Katia and ErikThe hardest part during the race was being away from the kids. Since we arrived back in Germany, we have spent a lot of time at the local beach, found some time to relax, as well as enjoyed a couple of hike & fly trips. Next week we get a new tandem wing (Bion from Nova) and most of the flights will be with the kids again. They can’t wait as they haven’t flown for a while. To the race itself, it was an amazing experience. Yes, the weather was not good at all and we had a bad start. Right from the beginning we were behind a day, which was hard to catch up unles you managed a tricky and risky flight. Martin Muller, who was behind with us, pulled off an amazing flight, and he managed to get back in the lead group. In total we flew 414 km, hiked 714 km and hiked 55 km in altitude. Without taking a lot of risk, we managed to finish 14th. By the end, we still had healthy feet, our legs were in good shape, we were still feeling strong, and we had had lots of fun, made a lot of new friends, learned a lot of lessons and gained some incredible experiences. The most amazing part of the race is the mind over matter game. There are so many mental aspects you need to deal with, such as the bad start, competing with the last group in the race not to be eliminated, hiking for endless hours in rain and snow, hiking up high mountins and dealing with the 50/50 chance to fly and keeping a pace you can handle for at least 2 weeks. The weather was one part what made the race harder, and the route turned ot to be way harder then expected. The Dachstein turnpoint was way harder then anticipated. If it could have been flown, it still was hard due the restricted airspaces (this is where Ogi got disqualified and 5 others had 24 hour penalties). No one could fly around the turnpoint and everyone had to deal with crazy and difficult hikes. The big difference in routes was the option of taking the longer way in distance and an easier via ferrata (climbing routes) or the shorter distance with a very difficult and power drainging via ferrata (Simone Scharte). We (Matin from Argentinia and me) got up to the turnpoint late and decided to stay up on the glacier with the hope to get to fly off in the early morning. 5:00 am, the wind was only about 25-35 km/h, but the valley botton was coverd in fog and we had to wait. Once the valley fog lifted we had about 70-80 km/hr winds. So we ended up climbing down Takeoff under the Dachsteinabout 800 meters the via ferrata and ended up taking off below the gondola cables. This flight was unexpectedly incredibly smooth and it was fantastic to soar up the Dachstein rock faces and heading more west along other peaks. I had to cross a valley to the south and I got cought in the stronger Foehn (Chinook) winds and was forced to land half way up the ridge I wanted to cross. I packed up fast and hiked to the top and looked for a managable takeoff site to get airborne again. The takeoff was in very strong winds going up and down , forward and backwards between trees until I managed to get out to more open space. The flight ended up further than expeceted and I decided to hike up another 600 meters to get another 8 km covered in the air instead of walking. After this flight, we ended up walking and hiking in the rain and on the way to the top of the Gross Glockner pass I met up with Andy Froetscher (Italy). The weather got worse and we ended up in 15 cm new snow on the trails. After we crossed the “Hochtor” at our break we decided to call the race doctor as Penny’s knee started to look worse. The doctor sent her right away to the Lienz hospital to get it checked out. The doctor in Lienz diagnosed the knee as a sports injury (even though the x-rays showed nothing!) A couple days later, her whole leg was swollen, and she was forced to go to the hospital in Bruneck, where they treated her for a bad infection caused from a bug bite. Penny was put on penny at her officeantibiotics and later in the race the race doctor drained out the infected liquids from her knee. At this point, Penny was beside herself thinking that she might have to quit the race. She could not walk. We lucked out that I stayed at a hut that night, and Penny could keep her leg up down in the valley, and the next day once I had landed, the rain started and she didn’t have to walk with me on the road, so she got a little bit of a break. We had to make a decision about whether we could go on like this, as she couldn’t hike with all my additional gear and food up the mountains, which is her “main” job!! The antibiotics kicked in though, and although her knee was not “normal”, she was back to hiking and in better spirits. Today Penny is all back to normal and keeps her running a bit on the easy side.   Anyhow, after the “Hochtor” Andy and I hiked towards Kals and stayed overnight on the Glorer Hut. Staying on the hut was the right choice, we got some great food and had a bed for a good rest. The next day we mananged to fly down to Kals in the early morning. The flight was great, but the landing in the Kals valley was rather challanging due the strong north winds. After talking to some weather guys we decided to hike up over 1000 meters for a flight into the Defreggen tal and then to Toblach (valley before the Dolomites). This decision was not easy as the winds at the landing site peaked at over 60 km/hours. Sure enough, once we were up, the winds were only around 15-25 km/hr. Andy and I got some good launches and thermaled right up to 2600 meters. Crossing the Matrai valley into the Defereggen valley was not a problem. The problem was the it started to overcast fast and shutting down the thermals. I decided to ridge soar into the valley as far as I could and started to hike to Maria Hilf to cross the next mountain ridge by foot. Andy was a bit more patient and could fly half way up the pass. After I hiked up the pass, the weather cleared and I was able to fly into the next valley finding some great thermals bringing me up to 2700 meters. I tried to fly accross the next ridge but had to land into the upper slopes and hiked up higher to get airborne again to fly to Toblach. From Toblach I hiked to the bottom to the Drei Zinnen, where we met Andy Froetscher again and stayed overnight. 3 ZinnenThe next morning we hiked up to the Drei Zinnen turnpoint. Andy decided to fly off and sunk out near the Misurina lake. I decided to pack up and hike more into the wind and flew back the route we hiked up. I decided not to fly out to Toblach as I decided to walk towards Cortina and hike accross the Dolomites to Brixen. On the way to Fanes de Sennes I stayed on the “Sennes” hut for a great meal and a good nights rest. Penny had to go back down and drive around the mountain to where I hoped to land the next morning. The next morning ended up to be a race from the fog and low clouds. I managed to get airborne from a 2600m high alpine launchsite resulting into a dream like flight between clouds and fog part way up to the Würzjoch pass. Hiking past the pass was in pouring rain. Just before Brixen we managed to get a another short flight in down the valley from where we reached Feldthurns in a couple of hours. Max in the snowThe next day we opted to hike up to the “Klausen” hut and hoped to fly down the other side. I ended up in a snow storm and on the other side they even had to shut down the gondolas due the strong winds. Once down, I had not choice to hike up the other side to Meran 2000, the weather got nice but we had at least 80 km/hr Foehn winds resulting and a hike down to Meran. Andy (Italy) Steve (GBR1) Richard (Braz), Oriol (ESP) and I all met up at Mutkopf (Meran) to fly into to the Stilfzer Joch. Amazing that after 8 days, we were all there together, and Martin (Argentina) was not far behind. We had a great flight around a lot of clouds and it seamed that my Mentor2 (DHV 1-2 wing) could perfrom very well with the 2-3 rated wings. I ended flying the furthest with Richard and Oriol. We packed up and rushed up to 3100 m to get airborne again to keep on flying to Piz Palue. The flight was awesome and we could thermal out a couple more times until the overcast shut us down. From there we hiked to the Pass da Val Viola where we stayed overnight. The next day we hiked south of the PizPalue into the turn point radius and flew down to Lago di Poschiavo. From there we kept on hiking to Sondrio. The weather forcast was very wet for the next day so we decided to split from

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Richard and kept on walking until 11:00 pm. The next morning the forecast was still calling for rain and we started to walk fast and strong to Como Lake. During the morning the weather looked better then forcasted and everyone seamed to hike up for a flight. It turned out they could not pass me due the weather conditions and I managed to hike another 2000 meter up to Pass de Jorio. We were luckey enough to get to a take off site from where we could launch at 8:30 pm and fly towards Biasca. Too bad I could not take off any earlier as I had to spiral down over 800 meters to land 2 minutes before the 9:00 pm night time flying restriction. I kept on hiking until 11:00 pm and layed down beside the road in my paraglider for a nap. Penny still had to hike down the mountain and then drive around the mountain, around a lake, through a couple of valleys, only to to get me at 2:15 am to the spot I was sleeping. She got me up to sleep in the van, and then we were up again an hour later to get ready for a 4:00 am hike to Biasca and then 2000 meters up for another flight. Penny managed again to hike with me. Once I got to the top the wind was from behind (north/east) and it was not easy to take off into the wrong direction. If I would sink out, i would have to do a lot of hiking to get back on track. I was able to scratch my way north and on the end of the ridge to find a thermal from where I managed to cross the ridge and fly towards Airiolo. This all was very tiring and I could feel how I started to fall into some short naps during the flight. Gladly the flight was ending soon and I could rest a bit. While I walked towards Ariolo, I started to get hallucinations and realized that I was simply too tired to proceed. I tried to call Penny, but her phone was not working and I had to keep on going which was not a good experiance at all. Once I met up with Penny, we both had a nap for 40 minutes and things got better. That night, I was able to hike halof way up to Nufenen Pass. After 3.5 hours of solid sleep I hiked up to the top of Nufenen Pass and after a couple launching attempts (wind from behind) I managed to fly down to the Wallis. I had to land before the restricted airspace and hiked passed the controll zone and hiked up again over 1000 meters for a take off spot. We took it easy as I was pretty tired from the day before. This was just perfect in timing as the conditions turned on later that day from where I managed to fly almost down to Visp. I had to land short of Visp due very strong valley winds, but this flight saved me from a 35 km walk. Robert,Andy, Penny, MaxIn the mean time Andy Froetscher (Italy) was working hard to catch me. He seemed to always be about 10 km behind me for the last 3 days and tried several moves to catch up. At the last flight the valley winds got very strong and I managed to fly 5 km further then Andy to the next ridge where I could climb up high and was able

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again to be ahead of him. It might have been the timing that I flew further, but I think part of it is the Mentor2. The glide is amazing, but more so I stayed in full speed bar even if it got rough and when the wing collapsed I just got off the bar for a short moment. Now most 2-3 wings would fly faster but in rough conditions most can not use the extra speed they have. During the whole race I was very pleased with my wing, which allowed me to take off and land in very challenging terrain. After the flight I headed up to the Matterhorn turn-point with Andy following behind me. Just before 11:00 pm I called Andy and told him that I would like to finish the race with him and share the 14th position unless the conditions were flyable, then we would fly for the 14th position. Andy was all for it, the next day was completely overcast, we called Christoph (race director) and told him our plans and met up at the Matterhorn turn-point. Penny was prepared like always and hiked up with some cold beer for the finish. What a way to finish – way better than running a couple km ahead just to claim one better spot. Sharing an accomplishment is more rewarding especially when you raced so many days together. Penny, Max, Andy, RobertAfter the finish we had a long shower at the campground and headed to Monaco for the party. It was great to meet with the others and to share the stories. Stories and experiences seem to be the most important part, more so than the ranking. This also got confirmed at the awards by Hannes Arch. This is also what we could hear from so many other people who followed the race for these 2 weeks. They got addicted to the online “Live Tracking”, photos and videos. Overall a great experience and entertainment for everyone. I would like to mention a couple thank you’s to the people and companies who made this all possible: Nova Wings and team for the tips and the Mentor2 Andreas Boehl and Flight design for the use of the CT to check out the route and the for giving me weather updates. Oma & Opa to watch the kids for the 2 weeks. Hannes Arch and Ulrich Grill for putting on the event, and to their whole team The Columbia Valley businesses and friends who donated services and products for the fundraiser (see details at https://flyingmax.com/xalps/sponsors-and-supporters/) And to all our friends and family who have given us so much support