Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keeping up with my 7 year old

Taking any opportunity to walk a lot is all part of preparing for the X-Alps.  Whether that means walking to launch when going out flying, walking to and from work or just heading out at the weekend to get some km's under my belt, it is all part of the job.  I was therefore more than happy to volunteer to walk in a sponsored walk with my 7 year old daughter, Lucy, on Sunday.  The sponsored walk was called the 'marche de l'espoir' and takes place each year in Geneva.  The course loops around the right bank, taking in the botanical gardens.  The complete loop was 6kms, but everyone was welcome to do as much or as little as they wanted.  We'd indicated to people sponsoring her that she could cover quite a long distance, perhaps 10 or more kilometers...

We started at 11am with a great release of ballons (see photo) and afer a lap and a half stopped for sandwiches.  Lucy was showing no signs of slowing.  After lunch we set into out third lap with vigour, and as Lucy had collected 2 'bonus kilometers' by answering quizzes on the way around, I thought we were on track to complete the card they'd given Lucy to collect stamps at each kilometer passed, which only had 20 boxes.  We finshed the third lap, collected the last stamp on the card at the finish, but then Lucy announced she wanted to go around again!  So with a second card stapled to the first we set off again on a 4th tour, completing a grand total of 24km (or 26 including the bonuses).  No idea where she gets it from!  All good training though...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Test flying from a mole hill

Well, not a mole hill as such, but a hill called 'Le Mole' close to Geneva.  The testing part refers to a prototype harness being developed by Kortel.  As far as prototypes go this one was very early in the life cycle of such things, but still very impressie in both design and weight.  I'd picked it Saturday morning from Max in Cluses, and then, together with Tom Payne, set off to walk up 'Le Mole'.  Now despite the rather insignificant name, it is actually quite large.  From the valley floor we walked about 1300m to the summit in a little over 2 hours.  Small by alpine standards, but to put it into context for anyone from the UK that is equivalent to walking up Ben Nevis.  From sea level.

It was pretty windy at the top, and concerned about it increasing, I threw out my gear, connected the 'work in progress' that would represnt my harness for the flight down and took off.  Rather magically, the clouds were below us, so we flew out over them in rather strong winds (which, slightly concerningly felt a lot like mountain wave) before descending into the valley.

So, how, you ask, was the harness?  Well initially I couldn't work out why I seemed to be facing at an angle of 45degrees to the direction I was flying in, but after I found one of the adjustments had slipped during take off and corrected it, it was rather good.  It felt completely different to my other harness (the Delight from Sup'Air) and therefore took a bit of getting used too.  Can't give anymore away, it is after all a protoype!

Interestingly the next evening this peak was covered in snow which fell on Sunday night down to 1500m.  The seasons are changing!

Tom Payne preparing to launch with Mount Blanc in the background

Looking towards Geneva with the clouds below