Going for the Nepali record
Even before coming out to Nepal at the end of 2011 i had already searched through the online contests to find who had flown the longest distances, triangles and of course the highest.
The flights that stood out for me were, Claudio Mota’s Sarangkot-Sirkot-Dhampus-Korchone triangle, David Hannings flight from Greenwall East 105km east (from memory), and seeing various tracks from people getting over 5000m (even though im not really into getting mega high this too became a goal for me along the way).
In early 2012 apart from a couple of solo flights, not including comp flying i was mainly exploring the mountain area just north of Pokhara, don’t let anyone tell you that they were not intimidated the first time they flew high in the back country. I did want to do more solo flying but bills had to be paid and inevitably i worked tandems through the best 3 week period where guys were going +5000m and flying far. Until this latest flight i had regretted working during this period as i knew that a great chance with good weather had just pasted me by and the next time i would see it would maybe be in 2013.
This flight in reality started the day before as i received an ASA en-c Prototype to test fly, having had 2 tandems at the beginning of the day i wanted to take advantage of the good weather and i went up for an afternoon flight with the last round of tandems. I quickly got ready and the glider inflated straight and clean with only a slight hint of it wanting to overshoot. once in the air i found that the glider thermaled great and soon was high enough to head for Toripani, there as i got to base i heard on the radio some people that had flown and top landed on Korchone. Initially i wasn’t planning to spend the night there, i was however curious how the glider would fly in stronger thermals as the ones we have around the main ridge are ok but far from what is needed to test a wing. First long glide over to Lower Korchone was uneventful except for it being a pretty sinky line (no fault of the glider). Once at Korchone i started to get the needed height to ridgeline it to Korchone Proper, by the time i had reached takeoff i discovered that there was already 13 people including a couple of tandems at the site. Seeing this and pretty much always flying ready for a Bivy i decided to top land and join the Party. This glider is fast at trim speed i knew it would take me a while to wait for a good moment to land, almost 40 mins and one low frontal collapse later i was on terra firma. After the initial greetings the tent was up glider stowed away and dinner was cooking.
After not the best nights rest (for me at least) we all awoke in time for the sunrise, for anyone heading this way if you have the weather and piloting skills you should try to head up as there is nothing quite like watching the sun rise and light up a mountain range that stretches as far as the eye can see.
The morning procedures had swung into action, photos needing taking, breakfast cooking, waiting for the sun to de-ice the tent (both inside and out this time) and waiting for the first signs of lift.
First off the hill was Patrice who was on his way to catch an 1130 connecting flight to Kathmandu except for a small piece of lift his flight was a nice sled ride letting him land closer to Pokhara. With everyone getting ready i was the next to launch straight into lift, cloud base was however at just over 3300 around 150m above takeoff. I took a different line than the rest as i wanted to set myself up for the transition to Upper Greenwall while they wanted to get as high as they could slowly beginning to ridge soar the rock faces. As i was gliding towards Greenwall i looked back to see a couple of gliders getting closer to 4000m, with every passing minute the clouds below the pilots were building and it would be a matter of time before they closed in on them.
As i approached Greenwall i was met by two of the Avia Cub microlights on their morning rounds, one of which came in for a quick photo and wave before it was back to business ofr both him and myself. The plan from here was to fly east but with the clouds developing and base looking much nicer south i decided to head towards Sirkot stopping first to say hi to friends doing their morning tandems. Topping up at Toripani and making the crossing south was uneventful, the south side of the stupa ridge wasn’t quite working as i had hoped this early in the day and i had to wait it out while soaring the ridge for 15-20mins until the next cycle would come.
Once topped up with height at Galem it was a couple of quick hops to get to Sirkot, having arrived there quite early in the day i decided to go one more ridge south with some amazing river views to be had there before heading back north.
Flying in the direction of Panchase my lk8000 was telling me that if i manage to hop across one valley to the west i will have a 125km FAI this however would not be the case today as a wave of clouds was approaching shutting everything down as it cast a shadow across the entire western region as far as i could see. Approaching Panchanse i noticed that heading to the north to extend the flight would only be possible over to Greenwall as Dhampus was under 100% cover and Korchone was around 70%. With plenty of height coming up to greenwall i wasted no time thermaling as i was racing the shadows that were chasing me now. From cloudbase at greenwall east i wanted to cross the next valley but half way across decided that i had had enough and didn’t want to risk landing out after a flight like this so topping up for the last time i started my final glide towards the LZ meeting Mac above Stupa as he was returning from his flight south to the antennas.
once on the ground i felt a smile coming on as it started to hit me, that in one flight i had accomplished 2 of the goals that i had set out before i could leave Nepal with no regrets.