Saturday, June 8, 2013

McGee to Lee Vining, 32 miles

There was few pilots looking for the big flight from 9-Mile this weekend, but weather did not cooperate with mostly east wind and north after Boundary peak. Since big flight was not in the cards I decided to do some exploration to the north of Bishop and joined Kia, Will and Dave who was camping at Rock Creek Lake campground with a big group of climbers. We launched from McGee:
McGee paragliding launch
Launch is small grassy hillside just below the road, you need to sort all the gear on the road, so strong cycles does not pick up your wing. I launched at 11:05 right after Dave. Original plan was to fly south toward Bishop, but wind was already from south east, so after we established above McGee we headed north west toward Mammoth Lakes. Will and Kia flew locally. Big thanks to Nadia (Kia's friend) for driving the car from the launch. After Mammoth Lakes there is a 10 miles "no landing" section until June lake. Dave was leading and reporting some head wind over this section and potential of top landing and long hike out, but this is his home site and he was confident. On another hand it was my first flight in this area and I had no idea where nearest roads may be if I land out. I try my best to gain some altitude over Mammoth Mountain and it was only 13K with surface altitude around 9-10K, so I bailed and decided to fly around. "Flats" covered with forest as well, but there're few landable fields along highway 395. It took awhile to push upwind toward 395, but when I got there things improved significantly. I finally got to the cloud base at almost 17K and was coursing at 70 km/h with nice tail wind. Dave made it through the tough section and landed near Grant lake. I enjoyed the view of Mono lake during a long flats crossing toward the Lee Vining. I had an option to cross slightly more to the west to connect with mountains sooner, but it was a longer route and I choose direct line. I did not get any good thermals near Lee Vining and wind changed to north east, so I landed at the small airport. All the crew was there already waiting for me.

After lunch we went for glass off flight from Bazooka (also called Lee Vining on Leonardo). Excellent grassy launch overseeing Mono lake. Here is Dave soaring on his Ice Peak 6:
Bazooka (Lee Vining) paragliding launch
We try to fly back, wind was already from the north, but flight was only 30 minutes, pretty mellow conditions. We did not even get over the ridge. Kia and Will landed at the airport. Dave attempted to jump back to the mountains where most of the clouds was with some starting to overdevelop and I try slightly more front line, but we both landed near Grant lake.
Clouds over Grant lake
Waiting for retrieve on highway 158

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