Posts Tagged ‘xAlps’

The application deadline for the xAlps is coming up soon and the big question is, are we going to apply again to represent Canada in the race? It often crosses our minds, especially during the race, why are we doing this. What pushes us to train so hard, spend our “holiday savings” on it and dedicate so much time and energy in preparation and during the race? There is something very special about the xAlps, and something that no one will really understand unless they are part of it. However, one of the reasons for participating in it, is the adventure, which I share with my partner (Penny). The other is the mental aspect of the race, and to be able to do things you dream of. Many of which are hard to do on your own. Also the whole atmosphere of the xAlps, which includes everyone from the organizers, volunteers, supporters, sponsors and competitors. They are all like family or brotherhood, and everyone we have met over the years have played some sort of roll in our life, whether it be during the race or afterwards in a continued friendship or mentor. We are very proud that we have been accepted/invited 4 times to this amazing race, to experience the adventure, and to meet and make so many new friends.

Since the 2013 race, many new things have happened in our lives. Last October, I started a new business ( with a good friend, Aaron Cameron, which has taken off in a big way. It has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time. Furthermore, I have

decided to get back into Ultralight flying and teaching, and we are looking to get a float plane to explore the mountain lakes around here. Also on the agenda for next year is a holiday to Penny’s “homeland”, South Africa and experience the African life with the kids. Penny has recently also finished a refresher in open water sailing and she wants to go on a sailing trip with the kids for a couple months too. As you can see, with all this, and focusing on the new business, we will not have the time and dedication for the preparation and participation in the 2015 xAlps. For this reason we have chosen not to apply to represent Canada in the next xAlps. This decision was no an easy one, but in reality you only have so much time in day and instead of spreading ourselves too thin with all these plans and projects, something had to give. Thanks again to everyone who has cheered us on and supported us over the years, and who keep following our adventures through the available social media. Max, Penny and the kids

The xAlps finished Friday July 19th at noon. This is 12 days after the start and was the minimum time set for the race. Crigel Maurer set a new record and finished the race in just under 7 days and it took more then 2 days longer for the next guys to arrive in goal. From the start, I felt pretty good and was very happy with my pace and performance until I had to do an emergency landing past Innsbruck (by Seefeld) into restricted airspace and I received a 48 hour penalty. I could have done a tree landing (in very rough conditions) on top of a ridge to avoid the penalty, but I decided to land 500 meters lower, and to my disadvantage, safely in a field. The good part was that Christa Vogel and Juergen Kraus (flying friends from the 80’s) lived near by and we could enjoy visiting them and were treated with their amazing hospitality. It got even better as the kids just showed up for a visit and stayed with us for the 2 days. It was fun to invite all the other competitors for a snack or meals while

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they passed us, or landed in a field close by. After 2 days of watching 13 pilots pass us, we had to refocus and get back into race mode. Thanks again for the mental support from Stewart Midwinter to be able to start my own race and adventure from that position. We came from the very back of the pack (only 1 hour ahead of the last person) and fought ourselves into position 23. I was enjoying being in a close pack with such a great group of people/pilots and I was always close to my good friend, Andy Froetscher, who finished 17th. I was hoping to finish the race with him or better. Overall, it was an amazing race with very good flying conditions. We experienced a lot of set backs due the lack of local “area” knowledge. It was very frustrating thinking you know where thermals “should be”, what ridges and terrain would work better than others, only to find myself flushed down from 3500m to the ground and ended up having to hike up very high mountain passes more often than the “locals” The good weather also brought a lot of windy and dangerous conditions as well. We had flights in plus 50 km winds, in rain and thunder storms, but at the same time we had some long flights (one over 150 km) flying over glaciers and very beautiful terrain. We had hikes in areas we never would have gone to and met such a wide variety of people along the way, some who we’re sure were the start of a long friendship. All this would not have possible to do without the support I received. Thanks again to Mik Broschart for all his technical support, and who drove with his “fancy” RV and made it possible that Penny could walk and fly most of the route with me. Penny did an amazing job as a pace setter, along the flats, up the mountains, and because she figured she needed more of a workout, she’d run back down to the valley!! My stats for hiking was, 6 km/hr, 471 km distance and 40 km elevation gain. I would say that Penny did at least 90% of that, plus going down, cooked dinners, cleaned most of the dishes, checked weather, and was up earlier than Mik and I everyday to have breakfast ready, and everything ready and prepared for the day ahead ….. she is more then living up to her name (Powers). I would also like thank everyone who cheered us on and supported us throughout our training and during the race, A photo gallery will follow soon.

Wow, where is the time going??

Last week I met up with Penny and the kids in Germany (Kempten) and just before I could even think about the blog, the race is in less then 14 hours.
We had a great time in Kempten and I had some very good family time with some training and flying, but since Monday, we have been in Fuschl am See, for the last meetings and preparations for the xAlps.
The whole experience here with all the athletes, supporters and the whole xAlps crew is just fantastic and hard to describe.
We have some great support here this year, and I’d like to thank Mik (our 2nd supporter) my family and friends who have come and joined us here for the start of the race, and others who have supported us prior and for the race. Dave who was scouting out the route, Thomas and Silke from Autohaus Fersch who gave us an amazing deal for the car we used to scout out the route and travel around with the kids, the Invermere people, companies and pilots, the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada, Frank and Tracye, Chris and Kari and so many more I’d like to mention, but time is running out. We\d also like to thank the great and super helpful xAlps crew, you guys are doing an amazing job.
Please follow the links below or check out the

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video to see what we have done so far.

For the next 2 weeks, check out and see live what we and everyone else is doing and our current updates are at

Big thunder and heavy rain woke us up in Chamonix. At least we got a good thunder concert as we could do nothing else around Mt. Blanc. We contacted

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Clement and Bruno (from Supair) if we could come for a visit to Supair’s headquarters in Annecy which is just an hour from Chamonix. They had time and made us feel very welcome and wanted as much as possible feedback of the new harness. In the mean time Bruno added and adjusted small bits and peaces on the harness he wanted to do anyways. I had some issues with the shoulder straps of their backpack which resulted into pain in my shoulders and Bruno knew right away what it could be and added more padding and changed what needed to be done. Wow, what a service, thanks a lot again Bruno and to your team. Clement (manager in Sales for SupAir) is also a xAlps competitor and was very helpful to give me valuable information of the Chamonix to St. Hilare section, thanks again Clement, it all made sense wen we saw it the last couple of days.

After the SupAir visit, we headed to Villard sur Doron stayed overnight and the next day we hiked up to Mount Bisanne. This site is known as a very popular XC starting point, but when we got up, it was still covered in clouds and once the clouds lifted, we had a good north wind which is from the wrong direction. After spending some time up there, we hiked down a couple minutes and launched in some week lee thermals and managed to fly down instead of hiking down 1200 meters. After we packed up, we headed to St. Hilare and checked out the route Clement was telling us. We planned to hike up Dent de Crolles (2062 meters) which is just above St. Hilare, but the cloud base was just about 100 meters above St. Hilare (900 meters) and we could watch the first para gliders playing in the morning sun (9:00am). After watching this for 20 minutes, we decided not to hike and start flying. My first flight was about 2 hours and I flew part of the route back to Les Marches and back to St. Hilare, top landed had some lunch, adjusted the harness a bit and got ready for another flight. Cloud base raised up to 1400 meters but it was still not enough to cross the valley to follow the xAlps route. After my 2nd attempt crossing the valley, I managed to thermal up some small bumps on the other side and could work all the small bumps and ridges to the south west passing by Grenoble. Cloud base never got higher then 1800 meters which made it impossible for me to follow my way-points which were leading me into the higher mountains (about 2500 meters). I ended up at a ridge soaring site on a high plateau by Lac Mort, top landed there and contemplated to hike about 10 km south to a open grassy mountain. Instead of hiking, I launched again and tried to fly east and to work myself out of this area, which resulted in a landing down in the valley. Overall I had a great flight and spend more then 6 hours in the air trying out different things. Today we plan to hike up another mountain and head down south towards Monaco.

Floehn in Flims, just as the weather forecast stated. Dave and I still decided to hike up to Naraus to check out the area. Once we got up, we were able to sneak in a flight to get back down to Flims. The conditions were strong and it was no problem to get high over the rock face (just behind the launch site) We played around in the area, which gave me a good opportunity to take some pictures of my new harness in the air. After about 45 minutes of flying we landed in Flims and then headed to Interlaken (Meiringen) via the Oberalp Pass, Furka Pass and Grimsel Pass.

In Andermatt we stoped for a Coffee at a Internet Coffee and met “Banz” (owner of the shop), which turned out that he used to live in Invermere and is very well connected with Daniel Zurgilgen and Lusti. At the same time “Banz” gave us pretty much all the xAlps route info for this area we came here for. We found the best route from Chur to Interlaken and from Interlaken to Zermatt. Thanks again “Banz” we had a great time and really enjoyed meeting you.

More photos of the flight is at

Today we hiked from Davos up to the Strela Pass and once we got up there we could feel the Foehn (Chinook) blowing in. To bad as it would have been great to fly around the famous Davos area or fly to Chur. Dave hiked back down to Davos and I kept going to Chur and hiked for about 27 km for the day. It was good to practice these longs hikes with the new SupAir backpack, like everything, it all takes some time to change from

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what you are used to. It was also good to see how well my insoles from “The Orthotic Group” are working for long hikes and on the pavement. These insoles did not change anything on my posture or what ever, but give me support at my foot at places where I got week over all these years of hiking. During all the training and now here in the Alps, I really want to give them my thumbs up and thanks again to Chris Wilson who got me on those.

The poles do show some wear and tear now, they are great, but the handles wear off pretty fast as you can see and I hope I can get them exchanged soon. Tomorrow we plan to go flying from Flims, if the Foehn/Chinook is not messing up our plans again.

Today we checked out the turn point Sulden.
We explored the option in how we could fly out from there and shortly after we started to hike up Piz Chavalatsch. Dave flew from there back to the car and I headed

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to the OfenPass. This was my first flight with the new Supair harness and I was glad I spend the extra time yesterday to get it all set up. The harness felt great and all was working the way it should be. I was happy about that as the thermals were strong and in no time I was up at cloud-base (at 3200 meters). Shortly after I realized that I had problems penetrating to the south due the strong south wind.

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I lost about 1000 meters to gain about 3 km. I kept working to the south and drifted slowly to the OfenPass and then landed.
Once Dave caught up, we headed to Davos and plan our next flight from there.
I have some more pictures posted at 

What a fantastic day. Dave and I started the day with a 1500 meter hike up to the Stanser Joch. This site overlooks Achensee and down the main Inntal valley. Once we got up (1:00pm) we watched already other para-gliders and gliders go by. We had a quick lunch and got ready to get airborne. The conditions were perfect and I could sky out right away. Once I got up, I flew along the Inntal valley passing by Innsbruck to Seefeld. From there I did a huge valley crossing to get to the Zugspitze area. I arrived there low with about 400 meter over the valley floor, but was able to find a small thermal and managed to climb out to 3000 meters. Once up there I could fly to the Zugspitze. At my first attempt to get to the Zugspitze turn point I got low and had to come back for a second time to get into

the 100 meter turn point radius. I sure hope I can make this turn point same way in the race, otherwise this would end up in a huge hike.

After the Zugspitze I headed back out to the Inntal to fly towards the next turn-point Sulden. I flew for about another 40 km and landed between Imst and Landeck. On the way to Landeck I decided to turn around and land next to a big highway gas station to make it easy for Dave to find me. Dave had a 3.5 hour flight himself and landed close to the car. He is super stoked as this was

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his longest flight he ever had. We drove back to Nova and hope that my harness has now arrived. My Mentor3 light is still not finished and I might get a Mentor 3 large today as well as I flew the Mentor 3 medium for the last couple of days. Hello to everyone and we will keep you posted as long we have an Internet connection. More photos at

The weather forecast was for no rain and low cloud base. My wing (Mentor3 light) will be delayed for one more week, my harness from Supair and a SD card from Brauninger should arrive on Thursday at the Nova headquarters. Therefore we started our explorations from the turn point Wildkogel. We started from the east side of the Wildkogel and had a nice 1200 meter hike up. The wind was from behind blowing up to 15 km/h. We managed to get airborne and after we landed in the valley we headed to Gerlos and did another 1000 meter hike to the Kreuzjoch and from there I managed to fly to the Zillertal.

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Today I picked up Dave from Munich. First things first and Dave made sure not to be hungry for today.
Now we can start with scouting out the xAlps route in person (not just Google Earth) and get organize the last bit and pieces for the race.
The weather forecast looks good for the next week and we will start

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our tour from the Nova headquarters in Terferns heading to the Zugspitze and then to Sulden.
I will have my Spot turned on so you can follow us where we are and if anyone is in the area, please stop by to say hi and if possible share your local knowledge with us.

Here is the link of my Spot page