December 1st 2021 Figueroa Flight Report

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December 1st 2021 Figueroa Flight Report

Postby Garcia » Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:41 pm

Ah Figueroa Mountain, what a special place this is. This was my second flight from there that put me into the front range of Santa Barbara. And this was a memorable experience as always.

Let’s start with the forecast. After a busy weekend of tandems and teaching the week previously I had set my sights on an adventure in the backcountry. It's always easier said than done, and you have to have the forecast line up damn near perfectly. I was very hopeful for Tuesday working out and when I woke up at 5 AM I saw the latest update put all the models down the drain for any backcountry plans. Even though that day we got over 5000 ft at La Cumbre peak, which had a bit of West in it. Fig may have worked that day, but the heights over the higher terrain (McKinley 6200 and San Rafael 6500) Did not look much more than 7000 ft, which is relatively low for that deep in the backcountry. Although, I have flown from Fig to Sage all under 5000 on a previous flight.

I guess the last few weeks have really felt like September here in SB, not so much our normal winter flying. Flights from Pine to the Beach, Fig, we are spending more time back there than usually for this time of year. At any rate, with Fig you want to see some E down on the surface for it to work. The W will always be pulled in from the ocean by the higher terrain, to what extent is dependent on the day. Some days are more than others. I have found that the optimal time to launch from Fig is usually around 10:30 - 12:00, I think some folks got up for a second round after top landing that may have launched after that time frame but usually the W is strongly in at that point, making the climbs broken and unorganized, just like it can do down low on the Santa Barbara range,

When I pulled the sounding this morning from Skysight, I was seeing tops at Fig around 5000 at 10:30AM and increasing as the day progressed, and then the higher peaks showing almost 12k. Some pilots were deterred by my plans because of the E wind that the NAM 3 was showing this morning, almost 25 to 30kts at 3k and 5k feet. When I woke up at 5 AM I checked the La Cumbre talker and saw that it was reading 16 - 16mph E, which corresponded more accurately with the ECMWF. Showing much lighter E flow in the mid altitudes and higher up than the NAM, I was optimistic that a flight to Santa Barbara would work out again.

The highest I saw was just over 9 at McKinley peak and to tell you the truth I kept losing the climbs because I was getting lost in the view. It was beautiful views of the Channel Islands, Carrizo Plain and the amazing backcountry that we have so close to us. Cedar hit maybe 9600? It was the deepest that I had pushed onto terrain when flying from Fig. Normally I stay a bit more out front which you can see in the first half of my flight. I was extra cautious today with as light as the climbs were, I was hesitant to dive in on terrain low, fearful of 1. Climbs would be broken by the wind in the back of a venturi, and 2. Not knowing what the East wind was truly doing. Thankfully Cedar dove right on in at a relatively safe altitude and reported 9k and some light E. When there is a Santa Anna event you have to respect it, the E gets blocked relatively well by our range, but if you push far enough, you will run into it.

For the most part wind was light out of the SW, mainly draw headed into the large peaks. Cedar was leading the charge most of the day and he reported lots of SE as he tried to cross to the front range. He did not want his flight to end so opted for an out and back, which was the right call to extend the potential of the days allotted air time. Mitch did this as well and landed in San Ynez. I had been flying alongside Austin Cox for a couple of hours at this point and he coaxed me into going deeper on the higher terrain, thanks for the motivation Austin! It was a great flight with a great friend. We arrived at the Little Pine ridge around 8k and pushed up it and Austin found a really nice seam. In hindsight I should have pushed further upwind before making my move, but I lost the line and headed out around 8600 to cross to VOR. I was over the Los Osos campground with 6500 or so and ran into the SE, and oh boy did I run into a wall. 2:1 glides at full speed with -2m/s sink or more. I crossed just behind the painted cave. I looked at the La Cumbre wind talker and it went from 4 and calm an hour earlier to 17-23 mph at 119 degrees. School boy error on my part. I squeaked in and finally relaxed at 2900ft when I saw the first 7:1 on my vario in a very long time. A little bit of luck, a new Trango X Race, and commitment got my final glide in, back to the car and on time to my dentist appointment. Austin Cox came in 3000 ft. above me, he chose a much wiser line than I had and it paid off.

Robert Fitzgerald, Chelsea, Sarah Lockwood, Robert Yuwiler, Matt Senior, Austin Cox, Cedar and Mitch Riley all flew. Each has their own adventures to tell. Fig is an amazing place and has really opened up a whole new section of local flying for me. I have flown OTF (over the front) twice now. Twice from Fig to Sage and countless other times of just site flying Fig. I hiked Little Pine last week with Lorimer and we had a nice adventure back there too, with nothing more than an extended sled ride. I guess my point is, I have been putting in the homework on that area and it's paying off, in my forecasting and my flying.

Fig is a great spot and I am happy to drop you a pin. You’ll need good side hill, top landing skills, a good attitude, an understanding of how wind moves in small and large valleys, and again, a good attitude.

Thanks again to all my friends who came out to fly a random ass hill a little bigger than Elings.

Ayvri: ... 6k09f69det

XContest: ... 2021/19:25

Xcontest Cedar: ... 2021/18:57
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:53 pm

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