Mid-April Extended Weekend

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Mid-April Extended Weekend

Postby sd » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:28 am

Saturday Summary posted in reply below

Sunday Summary (Hike and Fly) posted at:

Sunday Hike and Fly Contest
Sandstone Sunday Hard Impacts and Reserve Deployment
Sunday Morning Update:

Today (Sunday) the broad area offshore drainage should peak by mid-day then a robust seasonal diurnal filling flow should pull up the feed paths to replace rising air. Locally in SB the offshore drainage has pushed the cool surface marine air away from the coast. There is increasing north wind with altitude so there is some stiff North flow OTB along the ridgeline at dawn, but expect that to back down and come from the west down lower as the day heats, and from the NW up higher on the west end of the course. On the east end of the course (past Ojai) the lower level flow will draw in from the SW, but the upper level wind will be from the NNE. It appears that there is potential to get high today, but there is a lot more north wind above 6K. Ojai is more protected in the afternoon from the north wind so it will likely enable climbing to higher altitude. The afternoon wind is stronger toward the west end of the course. Ojai should work late in the day, but SB will likely be overcome by the NW wind by mid-afternoon. The lapse rate is robust, the pressure is high, and there is some wind, so we don’t expect mellow air mid-day.

Monday still looks promising but there is concern about the timing of the return of the quenching marine air.
Saturday Night Update:

Sunday: After a re-evaluation of the weather tonight I concluded the conditions don’t merit a personally punishing hike up to the Nuthouse, so I’ll stay local and likely fly from SB.on Sunday The wind seems to be more from the north and is trending to clock around to come from the NW fairly early (on the west end of the course) so an extended westbound leg from Ojai looks questionable.

Monday: The Forecast Discussion is calling for a return of the onshore flow and associated status, but the skew-t forecast charts seem to indicate we may be able to get over Casitas Pass before the quenching settles in?
Saturday Morning Perception

Robust Flying available through Monday. Strong springtime diurnal flow. Dissipating Marine Layer mostly gone on Sunday then starting to switch back to onshore on Monday with the low-level inversion reestablished by Tuesday. Ojai looks very good today (Sunday and Monday also). SB is trending better later today through Monday. The course is limited eastbound Saturday and Sunday but opens-up past Fillmore on Monday.

Today (Saturday). Ojai looks like the place to be in the afternoon with cloudbase near 12K. You might be able to get there from Santa Barbara launching later, but SB looks inverted down lower with some wind OTB early. This afternoon the local lapse rate trends better plus the wind backs off and clocks around to come from the west in the mid to upper single digits. If you do launch in SB, recommend launching high, perhaps from West La Cumbre if it is later and the west is starting to push through. The course is limited eastbound by offshore flow. Ojai starts out with some NE but the offshore flow backs off by mid-day. No marine air to content with-in Ojai with the thermals going really high. The west might pull in strong enough this afternoon for Bates to work.

Sunday (tomorrow) looks good in both Ojai and Santa Barbara with a lower inversion near the coast. There is some early NE but that should help sweep out the marine air near the coast, then the onshore starts to pull in by late morning. You can likely get to Ojai for SB on Sunday, but with the course limited eastbound the max potential for the day might be to launch from Ojai and run downwind westbound early, then press into the building onshore flow some before turning to go back toward Fillmore where the onshore flow will likely push up-river to about Fillmore. Could be more afternoon wind out near the beach than in the mountains. Bates looks promising

Monday looks like a good day to fly to Magic Mountain from Santa Barbara. Light wind from the west and a good lapse rate.

Tuesday looks inverted again, so get your flying in this weekend. The marine air and morning stratus continue through the work week. There might be some good flying down lower under the stratus? Elings will likely offer a daily window.

I can’t fly today but would recommend Ojai for the sure thing (even if you start late) or SB after noon. The best altitude for the weekend looks like this afternoon in Ojai. I’ll likely try to fly tomorrow, possibly from the Nuthouse, and maybe Monday from Santa Barbara.
Last edited by sd on Fri Apr 23, 2021 4:20 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Saturday Summary

Postby bb_secretary » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:48 pm

See Also Preflight perceptions and other weekend links posted at:

Copied from the SBSA Telegram Chat

Posted by SA at 2:10 PM
The eagle van rallied new eaglets to Skyport, and seasoned pilots up to EJ. The conditions matched Sundowners forecasting. Good day for first high flights for new eaglets, light early, buoyant, and some extended soaring over Parma. Nice launching and landing everyone.

Posted by Jeff Longcor at 3:24 PM
Launched west La Cumbre around 2:30 pm for a playful attempt on The Divide challenge hoping to reach VOR. Right after launching, climbed 5m/s to over 5500ft. Clouds in backcountry were promising but I had minimal kit, very light on wing and encountered 10-15 nw. Rollercoaster of lift and sink to VOR trying to stay high, turbulent at times, made the call not to attempt top landing, missed a thermal, felt 10-15 W below ridge height, lots of sink all the way to the T. Exhilarating, educational half hour flight, thanks Logan for setting up this route.
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Sunday Summary, 3/18/2021

Postby sd » Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:40 pm

See Also Preflight perceptions and other weekend links posted at:
Group Ayvri Web Animation at:

The Peak Hike and Fly Contest was a huge success with 18 of the 20-ish pilots officially entered completing the task. Not sure what the official results are but will edit this post if or when I find them posted somewhere. I heard a rumor that Jeff Longcor finished 1st. There were also a number of other pilots and non-pilot hikers not officially entered that did abbreviated hikes to the Peak from places like the Rattlesnake trailhead.

The launch and air conditions were challenging. It was blowing OTB when the first pilots launched from La Cumber Peak around 11ish. Pilots also launched from West La Cumbre, EJ South Side, and the Skyport. The lapse rate was strong, and the air layered with some west wind down lower and stiffer north wind up high. There was enough coastal wind to the west for Wilcox to work but the wind didn't push down the coast to Bates.

The trees were showing NE driving up from Parma about 9:30. The Rock had some wind from the east. The Skyport was blowing down at 5 to 10-ish. About the same from the north at the Brotherhood. A red-tailed hawk was ridge-soaring the north side of the Alternator. We opted to head back to EJ, which was solid WNW through the gap on the road, but more intermittent up top, which was mostly from the WNW. EJ had occasional lulls with some launchable cycles down lower on the south side. Jorge and I went to look at West La Cumbre and watched one pilot get off. A few pilots were also able to launch from the La Cumbre Peak HG launch. It was mostly OTB but there were lulls with occasional weak cycles from the SW. A number of HGs were setting up at (and later launched from) Cagy Bowl (the road turnout below EJ). Jorge and I drove back down to the Skyport where it was cycling in robust.

Personally, I had 2 flights and hit the ground hard on both. My initial crash was into boulders at the Skyport and the 2nd impact was into cliffy rocks at the east end of Castle Ridge after a reserve deployment.
Last edited by sd on Sat Apr 24, 2021 6:48 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Sandstone Sunday 3/18/2021

Postby sd » Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:43 pm

Multiple Hard Impacts and Reserve Deployment

I had 2 flights on Sunday and hit the ground hard on both. My initial crash was into boulders at the Skyport and the 2nd impact was into cliffy rocks at the east end of Castle Ridge after a reserve deployment.

More Files (Ayvri and Google Earth) for Sandstone Sunday posted at:
Plus Sunday Summary (Hike and Fly) posted at:
and See Also Preflight perceptions and other weekend links posted at:

Sequential Narrative

Took the 8:47 #20 bus from Carp to Summerland where I loaded into Carter’s new ride (Ford Explorer). We loaded Chris Gulden and Dylan Laughlin at Parma. The trees were showing NE driving up from Parma about 9:30. The Rock had some wind from the east. The Skyport was blowing down at 5 to 10-ish. About the same from the north at the Brotherhood. A red-tailed hawk was ridge-soaring the north side of the Alternator. We opted to head back to EJ, which was solid WNW through the gap on the road, but more intermittent up top, which was mostly from the WNW. EJ had occasional lulls with some launchable cycles down lower on the south side. Jorge and I went to look at West La Cumber and watched one pilot get off. A few pilots were also able to launch from the La Cumbre Peak HG launch. It was mostly OTB but there were lulls with occasional weak cycles from the SW. A number of HGs were setting up at (and later launched from) Cagy Bowl. Jorge and I drove back down to the Skyport where it was cycling in robust.

Jorge and I were alone. I offered to assist and go 2nd figuring the conditions were strong enough to build a wall. Daniel Garcken showed up at the HG launch with some guest. After Jorge got off, I went up to inquire about potential spare drivers to get Jorge’s vehicle down. They had 3 drivers for their 2 vehicles. John agreed to drive Jorge’s vehicle, so I drove it up to the HG launch and got him checked out on what and where.

Had a good layout and built a wall, expected launching would be easy. Perhaps my pull was too timid for the weak cycle? The canopy didn’t come up straight, so I had to bring it down off the west side and do a pickup. Not what I wanted because I was dressed for altitude and didn’t want to get wet perspiring, so rather than unhooking I tried to build a wall after a dump and spread, but wasn’t high enough and couldn’t get the canopy to catch air in the dead zone behind the lip despite the strong cycles. I ended up getting out of my harness to configure a better layout a little higher up, above the dead zone, but by the time I got hooked back in and ready to go the leading edge had rolled over. Used all my real estate above the lip but only got a little bit of the leading edge somewhat asymmetrically open. Continued to back down below the lip pump-jabbing the front risers. The canopy finally filled, and I was abruptly snatched a dozen feet off the ground by the vertical air. Fortunately, the canopy inflated mostly perpendicular with the hill.

1st Sunday Impact
Turned around quickly to face forward and started to fly away (perpendicular to the hill) , but suddenly the glider did a flat spin 90+ degrees to the left and seemed to go soft. I was able to arrest the spin but didn’t have enough steering authority or time to turn right toward clear air. The canopy had a soft feeling. I can’t recollect exactly what I did, but I was descending in what seemed like a tailwind toward the big boulders to the east of the setup area. Flared as deep as I could, but the flare didn’t slow me much because I didn’t have energy for rotation despite significant ground speed. Got my feet out and impacted feet first into the narrow gap between the boulders.

Came to rest somewhat upside down between the boulders. I was stable so I took a half a minute to asses. My left heel hurt, but everything else seemed to check out. John (from Daniel Garcken’s party) had seen my impact from the Liminator and came down to assist. He was followed soon after by arriving PG pilots Dave Patterson and Evan. We got the canopy out of the bushes and line checked back on launch. Took my boot off to access my foot issue and it looked ok. I could walk on my toes but couldn’t put weight on my heel.

In hindsight, in those robust conditions with no assistance, perhaps I might achieve more consistent success starting higher up on the launch where the air was cleaner and use an alternate technique with one hand on the rear risers to build and check a wall with some kill authority to avoid getting snatched?. Not certain that would have made a difference because the canopy seemed to be flying away from the hill when it suddenly spun left, so I suspect there might have been some active swirling air?

There had been some HGs airborne getting into the upper 3s a little earlier, but by now all the gliders seemed to be gone. Dave had reported it was building from the NW up at ridge line. With strong mid-day cycles at launch (12:53 PDT), a robust lapse rate, some north wind up high and west wind down lower, I was leery about the conditions.

Dave Patterson counseled that on landing I should remember to lead with my good leg. Unfortunately, my “good” right leg is supported by a compromised ankle with some metal hardware, so I usually lead with my left leg which was now injured.

Flight 2
The 2nd launch went much better with a couple of assistants assuring a good layout and spanwise tension. Climbing while flying straight away from launch. Did one full turn on a thermal core to a couple hundred over but didn’t like the feel and broke off the 2nd turn into a figure 8 because I wasn’t confident I wouldn’t fall out the back of the thermal. Ended up falling out the west side and quickly lost a hundred feet. I didn’t like the air, so I headed out, initially against some draw coming from the SSE. I didn’t crab against the east and angled toward the Holly Hills, but 400 yards ahead I got out of the draw and into the wind from the WSW, so I turned left (SE) toward the Factory’s west spine just behind the power lines.

The mixing air was unsettling. Down to 2700 approaching the Factory spine, I sensed some draw toward the spine and surfed up a ways before turning on a core to climb in nice air to 41 plus, tracking from the SW. Tested north thinking there might be convergence potential along the back ridge high route, but I was leery and fell off to the east when I didn’t find anything right away, thinking perhaps with building north wind potential convergence might be out front and I didn’t want to squander my terrain clearance pushing upwind into the lee of the back ridge on a somewhat windy day.

Picked up 600 at Shadow to get back to 42, then another thousand at Montecito to 5200. The air in the thermals seemed nice and organized but departing the thermals on glide it was mixy north wind up higher and west down lower.

Hit 5500 over Ramero but leaving the thermal I encountered wind from the NE. The swirling down air wasn’t fun. Considering my options. My logic told me that I might have success by crabbing left and powering ahead trying to hold the high ridge line, but my ground speed wasn’t good pointed NE and I didn’t like the air texture, so I fell off expecting to get drawn back in down lower. My ground speed was better tracking ESE, but I was in heavy sink and lost 1600 feet crossing Ramero Saddle.

I considered throwing in the towel due to the unnerving sheer between the NE above and the WSW down lower. Both the glide and the air got better down lower on the Castle Ridge Side, out front a bit over the Castle Points. Down below the NE wind the flow was from the WSW. I told myself I’d top out in one more thermal then call it a day because; my injured foot hurt using the speed bar, I didn’t like the sheer above, the upper NE flow meant the course was likely limited going east, and the wind was forecasted to be much less the following day (Monday). One more thermal would get be out to Viola Fields where the ocean looked calm.

Angled back in toward the mountains behind the front points and surfed up a spine from 3150 to the middle point behind Castle Point 4. After a few figure 8s on the SW face I cleared the top and sniffed out a core. Rode the surprisingly smooth and organized but strong core up over 44 hundred, drifting from the WSW. The thermal seemed to get blown apart at the top of the lift behind Castle Point 5 (the last front Castle Point but one spine short of the additional dead end spine before Snowball’s Daddy) by the NE wind so I fell off and ran downwind toward Viola Fields.

The air was washing machine. I did one 360 hoping to latch on to something organized that was drifting downwind but continued toward the ocean when I didn’t center anything and only broke even. Flying guarded fighting to maintain good attitude control. About 45 seconds and 600 yards into the glide I lost half the left wing in slow motion. The canopy turned left a bit before I completely lost control to start a gyrating ride.

I had plenty of terrain clearance and room to recover but was concerned because I’ve had trouble with Meru in the past getting back under control, once needing 1500 feet to finally recover. I can’t remember the exact sequence, but I didn’t want to fall into the canopy and get shrink wrapped. After a couple of iterations restraining the canopy and letting it surge without success I figured I needed to be more deliberate so I held a full stall for a bit and let it thrash and twist before letting it surge, but it was snaky and repeatedly surged forward asymmetrically such that it would then tuck one side or the other again. I finally thought I got lucky as it surged forward symmetrical and seemed like it might fly, but it had a cravat on the right side and didn’t build enough energy. The canopy was still soft and limpy in a parachutal mode.

I’d been maintaining peripheral awareness of my altitude. With about 500 feet remaining the ground was now approaching faster and the terrain getting more 3 dimensional. I had achieved some degree of tenuous stability, but the canopy was still mushy and cravated, so I expected I’d need another gyration or more, and another gyration was likely pending whether I initiated it or not. I’d been fighting the cascading gyrations for half a minute. I wasn’t confident I could recover in the time remaining. I sensed I still had enough altitude for a sloppy deployment, but I also sensed out was running out of time, so I let go to look and reach for the reserve handle.

Found the handle quickly by feel. Pulled outward and let go. It didn’t have much momentum as I briefly watched the diaper fall downward. Without steering the glider broke into a gyrating turn. I checked on the upcoming terrain and considered I might need to pump the bridle but was then jerked backward as I suspect the canopy opened behind me and initially slowed my forward speed. Fully deployed with about 250 feet to spare.

The terrain below looked nasty. Steep and rocky. I was in lee side turbulence descending on the east side of the spine but was getting drawn toward the terrain in flow from the SE. The main canopy was now fully inflated, downplaning and pulling me out from vertically under the reserve toward the NE. I briefly started to reel in the main, but the accelerating ground was approaching fast, and arrival was only a half a dozen seconds away (reserve ride duration was about 12 seconds / see attached KMZ). There were a couple of big pendulum gyrations. I might get lucky or it could be ugly depending on the pendulum timing. Went into a big high-speed swing that settled out and then started another much smaller swing just before impact. I was traveling from the SE toward a rocky face to my NW. I was conscious that my foot was already problematic and unreliable for absorbing impact. I instinctively rolled my body to hit back first, which was good because my harness has a lot of back protection. Hit with a sharp thud and a hard whack as the back of my plastic helmet whiplashed onto to the rocks. Felt my back tweak, but not break.

Didn’t attempt to move for 15 or 20 seconds as I evaluated my physical state and let the impact shock settle out. Within a minute I sensed I was physically ok with only minor torso soreness and no headache. I was getting tugged by big cycles pulling on both the main and reserve, but mostly the reserve, which was uphill while the main was off to the side. Put out a radio broadcast but didn’t expect a response due to my line of sight on the east side of the spine. I then dug my phone from my belly pack and broadcast a Telegram message to the SBSA Group. Logan phoned me at 1:36 (4 minutes after impact) and would act as the primary contact and relay. I informed Logan that I was physically ok but wouldn’t be able to hike out due to a foot injury from my earlier crash. Logan would contact search and rescue and have them phone me directly.

I continued to get out of my harness. Jorge phoned to see if I needed help. He was back home after landing at Birnam Wood. I told him his vehicle was at Parma and Logan was acting as the primary contact. I then tried to phone Laura, but no answer, so I sent her a text saying I threw my reserve but was ok and Logan was coordinating search and rescue.

Shawn from the Sheriff Department phoned at 1:46, (about 14 minutes after impact) to coordinate Search and Rescue. I stayed on the phone with Shawn for 57 minutes. He signed off after Matt with the helicopter crew reached my side at 2:43 (about 71 minutes after impact). During my wait I took calls from Laura and Logan plus I answered a couple of spam calls because Shawn instructed me to answer calls in case the helicopter crew tried to contact me directly.

During my conference Shawn I communicated that I was physically stable and not time critical with plenty of water but had a minor foot injury that would prevent me from hiking out. I gave him my inReach link and he was able to pull up the track map showing my location and coordinates. Shawn conferenced with his resources to evaluate extraction options. Search and Rescue eventually opted to dispatch a helicopter.

By the time Shawn (Search and Rescue) phoned I had gotten out of my harness but still had my jackets on, so I put Shawn on speaker so I could avoid overheating and continue activities. Got the glider bag out of my harness and consolidated my gear. I considered trying to gather in the canopies before the helicopter arrived, but Shawn instructed me to leave them out to enhance their search spotting task, plus my perch was precarious and I wasn’t confident I could navigate the steep cliffy terrain with my injured foot to gather the Meru (main canopy), which was draped over several charred manzanita snags hanging out over vertical drops.

I stayed within a couple feet of my initial impact location as powerful gust were rolling through and tugging at both canopies. The Meru initially appeared to be undamaged, but the pointed manzanita snags were progressively poking and rubbing, and I noticed an increasing number of broken lines. It was disturbing to watch the clean unpatched canopy with all original lines progressively deteriorate, and I knew the canopy damage was going to get much worse in the pending helicopter wash. I evaluated what I might do to partially roll up the Meru, but the risk of falling and possibly sustaining additional injury outweighed the benefit of trying to mitigate the pending canopy destruction.

Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit Copter 3 Generic hoist down photo

The Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter came direct to my location and spotted me within a few seconds after coming into my view slightly NE of my location while traveling east along the range behind me. They circled several times to evaluate their options and get the hoist ready before lowering Matt down to a boulder above my location. The downwash was scary. I was pelted with debris including large pieces of dislodged manzanita. I was concerned I might sustain an impact injury or get blown off my perch to fall down the rock face. The downwash abated and I could hear Matt making his way down to my position.
hoist down photo

I was hoping they would let me carry my gear bag, but Matt said they were going to execute a dual hoist (both of us at the same time) so I could only bring my small belly pack, which I had already loaded with my vario, radio, and wallet. I turned my tracker off and loaded it also, then put on 2 of my 3 torso layers but opted to leave a new down vest.

Matt thought we could hoist from our present location, but the downwash was too much, driving the reserve canopy down and over us. We were in jeopardy of getting blown off our perch, so he opted to abort without grabbing the winch line. My foot injury was to the heel. I could walk on my toes and told Matt I could go uphill on all 4s to get above the reserve, so we clawed up 50 feet to the same boulder that Matt initially landed on.
Matt & Tom orange-ish jacket above boulder / ready to hoist up

Hoist operator winching Matt and Tom

View toward Polo Ridge and Padaro from Copter 3 hover

The 2nd hoist attempt went much cleaner. We were spinning about 10 to 15 RPM. It was nice to get a broader view on the surroundings. Mat and I were facing each other. I hollered “this is fun” and he responded with a big smile and thumbs up. There were 2 other crew members in the helicopter (plus the pilot). They landed at Viola Fields. Matt walked me to the fire and AMR (ambulance) crews who were waiting in the shade.
Copter 3 landing at Viola Field Carpinteria

I phoned Laura and she came to collect me. Dave Bader (who lives across the street) also came over to check in. After vitals and an EKG, they released me to Laura’s care.

I monitored my injuries for a day then opted to go in for an X-Ray on Tuesday because my foot injury seemed to be getting worse rather than better. The foot X-Ray showed no obvious bone fracture. After fitting out with a boot cast and crutches, my confidence increased and a day later I sensed I was over the hump and mentally relieved that I was getting better and not worse.

I also have some torso / rib cage injuries. I had fallen while working at the Skyport the prior week and taken a stabbing impact to my chest. That injury seems to have been aggravated by the torso impact. I didn’t have the doctor check my ribs because I wanted to keep the cost down and they don’t do anything for cracked ribs anyway?

Gear Extraction
Logan and Dave Patterson headed toward my glider on Wednesday to attempt a gear extraction. Logan was on a motorcycle dirt bike and Dave was on an e-bike. The plan was to bike in along the ridgeline via the Divide OHV trial, but access to the trail was blocked by a road closure on Camino Cielo at the top of Cold Springs Trail due to construction so Logan was not able to continue with his motorcycle but Dave was able to navigate around the obstacles with his lighter e-bike. The e-bike portion of Dave’s expedition started out about 10 AM and he got back to his car about 8 PM (after dark). The retrieval task was physically challenging, but he successfully extracted all the gear by himself.

Dave kited the Meru at Elings on Thursday then gave it to Rob for further repair evaluation. It reportedly has a number of holes and broken lines. Dave brought the rest of the gear to my house on Friday for dinner with our Lauras. I’ll take the reserve and harness to a park in a few weeks for evaluation.

It had been over 20 years since my last reserve deployment on a Sunday in January 2001
I was throwing my reserve more frequently in my earlier paragliding years with a total of 9 deployment attempts over my varied flying phases (2 skydiving, 2 hang gliding, and now 5 in paragliding). I’ve flown in some textured air over the past 20 plus years and grown confident that I could recover quickly from any gyrations I might encounter, until I started flying the Meru.

There are tradeoffs in wing options. Speed and glide performance increase “reach” which can sometimes expand our envelope or get us out of trouble. The tradeoff is that the high aspect wings can be more challenging to manage.

The Meru is a high aspect “2 liner”. On balance I like how the Meru ground handles and flies. It is the best performing glider I’ve flown, and the handling is mostly easier than the IP6 and IP7 I was flying previously (also 2 liners). The specific handling characteristics are beyond the scope of this rambling, but it short, the problems I’ve been having with the Meru is its behavior when the tips tuck under and recovery from cascading collapses. The canopy tends to tuck and collapse “softly” in slow motion, but the tips seem to stick under and often need to be pumped out. In full blown collapses the canopy is sometimes hard to get flying again due to snaky thrashing and asymmetry. I’ve had a number of “episodes” recovering from big collapses where I’ve ridden through multiple gyrations rather than just one or 2. I’ve lost confidence that I can recover quickly so I’m often scared that I might lose control and not be able to recover in time.

Being scared is another subject beyond the scope of this reflection, but I often counsel others that we need to listen to our intuition, so my perception of an increased potential for ugly outcomes is motivation to explore ways to realign my balance.

More Files (Ayvri and Google Earth) for Sandstone Sunday posted at:
Plus Sunday Summary (Hike and Fly) posted at:
and preflight perceptions posted at:
Last edited by sd on Sat Apr 24, 2021 6:41 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Sandstone Sunday Files

Postby sd » Fri Apr 23, 2021 4:00 pm

More files from Sandstone Sunday
Narrative Posted at:

Tom's solo Ayvri Web Animation Link:

Tom's 2nd Flight Google Earth KMZ File (Reserve Deployment)
(31.05 KiB) Downloaded 57 times

Tom's 1st Flight Google Earth KMZ File (Skyport Crash)
(1.08 KiB) Downloaded 54 times

Sunday Summary (Hike and Fly) posted at:
and preflight perceptions posted at:
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Gear Retrieve Adventure

Postby DavePatterson » Sun Jul 11, 2021 3:48 pm

A writeup of my gear retrieve adventure. This writeup plus some images is also at (url pending?)

Retrieve of Tom’s gear, 4/18

The original plan was for Logan and I to meet at the end of East Camino Cielo (Romero Saddle). I was on Chris Gulden’s eBike and Logan would have his moto; the rough plan was that I would have a pack big enough for the canopies, and he would carry Tom’s big bag with the harness. The road was in fact closed about 4 miles west of there. I started around 10, Logan was going to meet me later - he would be much faster than me on the moto.

There was road construction (hence the closed road) and they wouldn’t let me pass; however they said I could walk the bike around, over a small hill. This took about 15 minutes. Logan could have travelled the same route physically on his moto, but the legality of taking a moto off the road is more dubious. I was not sure if Logan would make it or not; I also knew there were other OHV roads to the east, but wasn’t sure if Logan could connect from the north side of the range. In any case I was kind of in “mission mode” and kept going.

I had never ridden an eBike before, and most of what I knew about mountain biking came from watching youtube videos of the RedBull Rampage, so I was a bit apprehensive about the bike. It turned out to be easy once I got the hang of Chris’ bike, although I dinged up his pedals several times clipping them on rocks. In my mind this bike trip was going to be the crux of the adventure - this was not at all true.

Cloudbase was about 3000, and so visibility was erratic at best, and often poor. I massively underestimated the bushwhack down to the glider, and in fact started on the next spine to the east; I eventually descended into gully between (W fork of Santa Monica creek), and scrambled up the other side. There was some poison oak in the creek, and I think I avoided it but wasn’t 100% sure [writing this 3 days later I got just the tiniest bit]. I got to within 50 meters or so of Tom’s glider (based on his last inReach point), but couldn’t see it; visibility was poor at this point, and my progress was very slow. Eventually clouds lifted and I found the glider. Logan messaged me saying he could not get through, so I was solo. I also realized that if I just took the canopies back up to the road, nobody would ever find the rest of the gear - even with the canopies visible, finding it was not easy.

At this point my poor planning was starting to show: I had almost no water left, had only a soaked T-shirt for warmth, and my phone (and only compass) was dying. Tom, it turned out, had planned much better than I had for this adventure: he had lots of water for ballast, a compass on his flight deck, and a puffy vest that made all the difference. He even had a battery pack for my phone, although I foolishly did not use it.

It took quite some time to get Tom’s damaged gear in the bag. Both canopies were heavily damaged from punctures from burned manzanita. Folding a wing into a concertina bag on a 4th class slab is not easy! One of many times in the day that an extra set of hands would have helped.

The bag going back uphill was quite heavy, and the terrain very rough; almost every step required a “strategy” to navigate loose soil, dense brush, and steep slabs, and visibility was getting worse again. It was comparable to a mile-long hike on terrain like the first scramble up from the river at Sage. A few times I found short (30 meter or so) or game trails and it felt like I was running on them by comparison. Eventually I got to the OHV road; I couldn’t ride the bike with the full pack (which included at 15 pound extra battery for the bike), so I split the load in two, and shuttled them back to the paved road and eventually the car. I did not realize that my inReach had stopped updating, which led some back in town to worry about me. I need to learn my instruments better.

Lessons learned from the day: A mission like this really demands 2+ people; plan for poor visibility; often the best strategy is keep going.

The whole day felt a bit like a video game where I constantly had to “level up.” Huge thanks to Logan, Sangwon, Chris Gulden, and Tom for their remote support throughout the day. My favorite solo adventure in years.
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