August 8, 2000 Eurofly day 7

A beautiful tour of the foothills of the Alps
linking four valleys to an emerald lake.
A wonderful day of flying a Paraglider.

By Jay Carroll


It was to be an overdeveloped day in the Chamonix valley. So we all drove one hour southwest to Fly from the Grand Borland Ski area in the so-called foothills of the Alps. The drive was scenic and the day perfect as small clouds popped early.  
We were in the right spot! a town festival filled the sky with cows.

A pleasant chairlift ride to launch over wild flowers and
grazing cows.

Thermal Breezes carried
the sound of cow bells
to a sky full of dancing

The leeside thermal was difficult to launch into but propelled pilots directly into a cloud above launch.

I couldn't resist this wall across the valley so I flew back North to it, As I got closer rock climbers cheered me on as I traversed over their heads on my way up to cloudbase.

At cloudbase the route to the west lured me to explore past the end of this rocky ridge then to cross a difficult gap. This crossing left me low miserably skimming the tree tops in light lift. But like they say misery loves company and here I found the majority of our troop scratching this shallow treed slope. After some tiresome scratching I was able to get up to the end of this ridge to a sloping rocky summit. Here, I met Pete Reagan and we both popped through a gap into a steep valley behind. I was first and crossed North to a rock face deeper into this valley. Pete took a more direct line South for the mouth of the valley and ended up meeting a headwind that grounded him. I continued to climb out of this valley passing several caves joined by goat-like walkways and cable ladders. I jumped this ridge to cross North again over to another valley which I traversed and ascended to the West.

High over this ridge I discovered that it was terminating to a headland above a large open valley to the West. As I neared the end of the ridge, I met a strong headwind that took me down to the treetops just squeezing around a windy shoulder. Spooked as the trees swayed below, I was able to ridge soar up to below an ominous west facing cliff band capped by a big dark cloud. This was the zone all right, just 150 feet above, a sailplane ripped along the cliffs rim just below cloudbase. I nervously soared up to the cliff considering the wind and this other kamikaze glider now porposing the cloud. At the far end of the cliff I felt turbulence and quickly turned away. There seemed to be a barrier near the top, I continued to soar lower on the cliffband and studied that spot as the sailplane disappeared to the north. Luckily two ravens started to tumble and play there and mapped it out for me, I approached and maintained speed to punch into a vortex of strong lift, the vario screeched to 1400 up and I was soon climbing up and around the edges of a very big cloud.

I had a big crossing South over the roadway to the closest mountains and this lift made it possible. At the height of my climb I could see past these mountains to a shimmering lake and gliders to the west working back towards where I was headed,Wow too cool, that must be Lake Annecy! I just barley made the glide across the mile wide valley, a headwind drilled me back low to tree tops swaying in the breeze. I ridged up the quaking treed slope to a long white cliff band that took me through a small elevated col. Here the valley winds were blocked and I enjoyed smooth rim soaring above this hidden remote verdant valley. This idealic valley converged into a small pass, punching a gap into the rock ridge to my West that had separated me from Lake Annecy. It was like my own little entrance portal to Annecy. The air was smooth and friendly so I popped right through this narrow gap, It was if I had come through a cave emerging out over the lake. Whew! man that was a threshold, Gliders filled the air to the west and I began to core thermals in that direction. Soon I was surrounded by Paragliders who were climbing out from the popular Plain Fait launch below. The first gliders to reach me whooped and hollered, perhaps wondering where I had come from and pointed on, luring me to cross the lake with them.

The rock gap I emerged from and lake below,

Up again the route across the lake beckons

A relaxing Glide over the lake was reward after a day of tense flying. The Final ridge over the lake was smooth and light but provided enough lift to get back across the lake to LZ

The Lake swoop and LZ with beer!!

The LZ at the end of the lake provided a smooth touchdown and a Beer tent!!! A welcome indulgence after five and half hours in the air over many kilometers of inspiring terrain.
As Glass off ended Gliders crowded the LZ making great entertainment for Beer gulping. When our vans reached this LZ, my pile of beer cans and I had grown to a happy sloppy state. A few chuckles later I was scraped up and ushered into the Beta van to return to our Chamonix nest three hours away.
Ha! How much better does it get??