Freesteel Blog » Julian and the Grimming

Julian and the Grimming

Friday, August 16th, 2013 at 7:15 am Written by:

I was going to do some 5-axis machining theory today, but the sky gods had other ideas. Way back at the start of expo I had this notion that, since you couldn’t expect to do much more than a maximum of three hours of flying in a day, it wasn’t going to disrupt things too much. But the fact is when you actually do fly like this for three hours with your head in the clouds, it’s hard to give a damn. I was flying like a demon today, and now I can’t make myself care about programming.

The Grimming is a crazy gnarly mountain on the south side of the valley as you go east from Bad Aussee which is the gateway to the Schladming valley and the tall side of the Dachstein. And I got above it, which is a dream come true.

There were enough thermals today for numpties to get to do awesome things with a lowish cloudbase at 2700m. Did I say I got to cloudbase? Five times. That’s more than all the times I got there in eight years of hang-gliding pre-1997 before I gave it up in frustration. That’s the power of this new GPS-powered thermal sat-nav. It’s a flight computer that says when you need it to:

“Hey, diptstick, you left the lift over here. Now get back and get into it, and stop fannying around like you think you know where you’re going — which is on the deck if you don’t get a grip right now.”

Flying over Grundlesee lake having finally got away from Loser. Grimming is that dark lump on the horizon I am looking at.

A view of Grimming from the cloud level before I dived for it’s left hand side, and nearly bombed out along its shocking southern face before I found lift all the way past on its right hand end.

This is the GoogleEarth track of that fly-by into the Enns Valley. One of the rules of successful XC flying is you don’t worry about the retrieve drive. While it is a short distance over the mountain range, the road goes the long way round. After getting up, I went back over Grimming to see the top.

It’s difficult to capture just how jagged the face of Grimming is. It’s all crumbly jagged pillars, like a Greek temple in ruins — except their pillars started out as pillars. Here it was solid rock at one time that looks like it was caught in a hailstorm of boulders. It was too easy to imagine screwing up round here and planting myself like a car crash in some inaccessible notch. For weeks the people of the valley would be able to look up in the sky and see this little patch of orange on their mountain, and nobody would ever be able to get it down.

At 3:30pm all the sailplanes around Austria began to converge on to me. I think their airfield was in the valley. There were stumpy ones, and sleek ones with white wings as skinny as helicopter blades. Their pilots were enclosed in comfy perspex bubbles.

Meanwhile, my hands were getting a little cold. I packed a pair of fingerless gloves down my front. When I got them out I realized they were a complete joke. Try putting on a tight pair of gloves while carrying a tea cup and saucer.

When I get home I’m going to make myself a pair of bar mitts. And get a harness that fits. This one is way too short and I hope I can do a lot more of this.


I looked up this area on the paragliding map, which is the finest application mash-up of meaningful, actionable geographic data I have ever seen, and go this orange spot denoting a thermal hot-spot.

The cool thing was I reached it all by myself without knowing about it. I think this was a lot of luck. In fact, the whole route was pretty jammy, according to the locals as they normally hop through the mountain ranges without taking that risky short-cut across the valley.

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