Freesteel Blog » Schlommerdreieck!
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 at 8:38 am
I did it! I f***ing did! The mission to fly from the Loser to the Dachstein and back as mentioned in my Skywings article last year.
It was third day lucky. First day was a practice day, which somehow got me to Grimming and back in a four hour flight.
Second day I went for it because of a very good alptherm prediction, and fell out of the sky from 3000m to ground level in Bad Mitterndorf in a matter of minutes by attempting to punch through huge valleys of sink on my Sport2 due to stupidity, ignorance and nothing else. I misjudged the winds and there were no clouds to remind me where the thermals were — ie not in the valley.
On the third day alptherm gave an even crazier thermal forecast, the like of which I’ve never seen for this place.
I wonder what that german writing at the bottom says. Probably nothing important.*
I held back as two topless gliders took off at 12:30 and one of them went down. I knew 1:30pm was my magic time. The alptherm values are in UTC (add 2 hours for local time), so it really only starts cooking on at hour 1pm, before which it feels like there is a pause in activity.
And I went straight up to 3000m where the valleys and mountains are just minor details and threaded my way from cloud to cloud.
The sky gods sent the cunimbs onto massifs beyond all four corners of the flight and while the Dachstein gruppe remained miraculously clear.
Then it was off the the Grimming, arrived from the thermal hotspot to the east but unfortunately below its peak and was too intimidated to do any circling near this blasted mountain.
Luckily there were paragliders flying here and there to guide me and stop me from wussing out whenever it was feeling too extreme.
Was it a bad idea to go higher? There was a speck of a floppy paraglider up there in front of the cloud. Is it okay to fly over the 3000m peak of the Dachstein? There were two paragliders right down low over it.
How is it possible for something this amazing to continue? Just a set of simple wings on my back in this crazy place. This is an enactment Niven’s third law including commentary, which may predate the invention of hang-gliding:
3) Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’re having fun.
You will not be stopped! There are things you can’t do because you burn sugar with oxygen, or your bones aren’t strong enough, or you’re a mammal, or human. Funny chemicals may kill you slow or quick, or ruin your brain … or prolong your life. You can’t fly like an eagle, nor yet like Daedalus, but you can fly. You’re the only earthly life-form that can even begin to deal with jet lag. You can cheat. Nature doesn’t care, but don’t get caught.
I got there. There were big anvil clouds to the south darkening the whole horizon. This is the way I am going, across this sea of rock and snow back to Altaussee.
It was like a solid glide for 20 minutes, then a thermal off a corner buttress so I didn’t have to squeak through the Obertraun valley, then another 20 minute straight glide to the Trisslewand that had a huge cloud hat on that worked. There was nothing else between.
I decided to come down before anything went wrong and was actually able to phone the cavers sitting in base camp to tell them to look to the sky. They couldn’t hear me, so I texted them instead. Texting while flying is about as dumb as texting while driving, but the air was quite open at 2200m.
Becka cycled up and helped me carry down from my favourite landing field behind the campsite. I celebrated with a beer. It still gave me a headache. Back to earth. This is now the state of the campsite. The noise is awful.
* Translation: At the moment thunderstorm and precipitation symbols can’t be shown due to technical reasons.