Day 6, 19/7: Welcome in Switzerland Serfaus - Trin (Flimms)
Blue sky as per expected … I was waiting on take off for the good thermals which didn’t seem to come. I eventually took off at 11′30 and had to land on a very steep slope, on the other side of the little valley from where I was. I had to walk up the 150m to go to the top of the ridge with all my equipment on.
Sweaty, boiling hot in all my kitI took off again and started to fly to the W. I found a thermal which enabled me to climb a couple of hundred meters : That helps you to relax, you know ! By starting early in the morning you can make some extra km, but you can miss completely a day if you fuck up and land at the bottom. So the first minutes of flying are always very stressfull.
After this start, the flight was amazing : I flew between 2900 and 3850 (+ 4000m was possible that day) for a 1h50, until the Fluelapass. Here I met Will G who was also in the area and we flew kind of together for a while. We flew above some amazing places. The glaciers, the peaks, the lakes, the colors, the contrasts in the landscape were stunning. That will be in my memory forever.
The only thing I didn’t think about when I took off, was that we would be flying in the middle of Switzerland at nearly 4000m : And it’s not exactly like a classic summer flight, very quickly I was completely frozen. My body was shaking, and the only thing which was in my head all that time, was to try to fly down to a summit and try to top land… Which proved impossible. My flying turned into this chaotic up and down, right and left… I wasn’t flying properly anymore, I was avoiding climbing high (still 3600-3800m) to be able to cross these mountains and I wasn’t making the best glides as my directions were chosen by the possibility of a top landing on any of the peaks I could find. Not easy though as the mountains were more like super high type, super sharp, rocky, with cliffs… I flew like that a couple of hours and crossed the valley of Davos. I managed to fly a few kms W and found a nice area where the slopes were more inviting for a welcome top landing.
It didn’t exactly work like that, and I top crashed in a very turbulent wind. The wind was basically coming from the N side of the mountains (I was to understand why an hour later) and I was flying the S side… Anyway, I put my winter gear on, happy to warm up my frozen body, and took off again… and never flew above 2400m after that. Typical, eh!!!
I crossed the valley to the South and it didn’t seem like I was going to be successful, so I crossed back to where I was coming from but a couple of thousand meters lower… I ended up going tailwind direction East, the wrong way, at 100m above the ground and managed to find a little ridge where the lift was good enough to keep me in the air. After lots of work I managed to find a thermal and spiraled up in it.
Then the most craziest thing I’ve ever experienced happened: As I was spiraling, my glider was sucked by something, a monster which then exploded a couple of meters from me. My glider shot at 90′ forward and dragged me to this thing full speed. The only thing I could do was keep 20-30 cm of brakes on to keep the glider open. The pressure in the brakes was similar to when you do a tumble (for those of you that have experienced that) … The glider, did a full speed 180 on the left, without me making any input and I was ejected upwards. I did a massive convertion, a “chandelle”. I was looking at my glider to pilot it the best I could, when suddenly I could see the glider and the ground. I had started a proper loop without having done anything … Luckily, I stopped near the 90-100 degree angle, so didn’t go higher than the glider, I full stalled and exited it properly. I flew once again into the monster and this time did, on purpose, a turn to make my own exit. That was it: It had been very quick, but at 100-150m from the slope, in such a strong thing, I felt it was something that I wish no-one wouldl ever experience…
I flew back near it and spiraled the outside of that thing (I still had to go up as I was low !!!) and guess what… Glided once again to where I came from. That second try was the good one and I managed to go up and went to the Chur valley, where surprisingly I caught up with Will G who had been doing some walking at the top of the mountain due to the wind.
Yes the wind. What I didn’t know is the valley of Chur in the middle of the afternoon, in summer, is not really a place where a paraglider should be. Now I understood what had happened to me, trying to go up on the lee side of the mountain…
Will and I enjoyed the end of the flight, going down wind as far as we could in this valley where obviously we had to concentrate until the glider was on the ground. Will did his death spiral technique to land, while I used the sweetcorn technique for a safe landing. You know the one where you land backwards in the sweetcorn field to stop you :. We had to do that as some massive power lines crossed the valley a couple of meters beyond where we landed …
“Welcome in Bonaduz, and Switzerland” I said to Will. He replied “Fuck, man !!!! That was hot”.
After having eaten some snacks, to cheer up from all the crazy experiences of the day, I decided which direction to take to the next good launch, where we thought Kasper had taken off before. I walked on my own to Trin, while Will decided to rest for longer. I was still feeling good so I kept walking up hill a few hundred meters above the valley. We stopped at 9ish.
Since the beginning of the competition I had always managed to meet up with Nicky. Also she always managed to drive the van up to places that were really nice to stay. It was really nice to have everything there, making my life more comfortable. I even had time to have a shower at the end of everyday …
Started day on take off . Took off at 11′23. Finish day at 20′45
Total flying 5h50, 108km
Total walking 2h, 600m up, 8.2km
Max altitude 3850m