This week has been a bit of an up and down week. After my fantastic long run last weekend I managed to strain my calf muscle slightly on tuesday morning running into work. No big deal, but some enforced rest has been in order while it heals. As cycling did not seem to aggregate it my training was reined back to cycling 20km a day.
So with training out, it was fortunate that the weather allowed us to fly. With an interesting forecast (read: difficult to interpret) Tom Payne and I decided to go to Plaine Joux just outside of the Chamonix valley. This was due to it being one of the few sites in this area of the Alps that is sheltered from the forecasted Northerly wind. The only trouble was, when we arrived around 11.30am, the take off was in cloud and the whole valley was clouded in. We decided to continue up to Chamonix to see what it was like there, and indeed it was sunny and the base was higher (around 2000m) but the Northerly wind was already in evidence and the tandems were not out flying. It seemed, mometarily, that our attempts to fly may be thwarted. We tried retail therapy in Chamonix, but frankly failed at that too, so set off back to Plaine Joux landing, where we picked up Pascal Maillard and set off up to take off, which was now thankfully clear of cloud. Things were definately looking up as gliders were starting to launch and there was blue sky and sunshine in the middle fo the valley. By the time we pulled into the car park behind launch the first glider popped up above launch. Game on.
We took off hastily, fearing the northly may bring the wind from behind. Once in the air the conditions were interesting, in some case the thermals were actually visible as columns of rising wispy cloud. Still with the base at 1500m there was not much height to play with so it was delicate flying as we picked our way west to the lower slopes of the Varan. Conditions were improving and the flight back was staright lining in lift. I top landed back on the take off (useful practise to bring the glider into a tight spot like this), while the other two lead off across the valley and down towards Les Contamines. Soon back in the air (with warmer hands and a lighter bladder) I set off following. Again the flying was a little delicate with only a few hundred metres to play with and the added fun of a high tension power line traversing the hillside just below the cloud (best not to end up on the wrong side of that). Climbing lazily by the ski pistes of Les Houches, we watched the avid skiers pick their way around the brown patches in the slushy snow. Finally, back across the valley and up to take off, I top landed again, and again, and again (well practise makes perfect...). In between there was time for a little photo session courtesy of Tom, also now back on launch. Here I share with you my pick of his photos. Enjoy.