Going round in circles

Walking to the third turnpoint
Walking to the third turnpoint

“My day has gone from bad to worse. Wish I’d done what I’d wanted to. Now set myself back hours and hours of walking ☹ not fun any more”

That was the text message Charlie sent me last night, after she had failed to climb on the west side of the Aravis, forcing her to walk back round to get back to the Col de Aravis. The same place she had arrived the night before.

The day had started well at 6:30 on the Col de Aravis. She and the Swiss tandem team had set off together walking to the third turnpoint at the Croise Boulet. This looked liked the best option as flying from the takeoff at La Virgie on the east side of the Aravis didn’t look possible thanks to the low cloud.

As we walked towards to the Col de Niard spirits lifted along with the clouds as it became clear that there was a good chance of flying. From the col I returned to the car as the others headed up to the turnpoint from the where the plan was to fly back to the main face and traverse it as far as possible.

Charlie climbing on the Aravis
Charlie climbing on the Aravis

By the time I was back at the car the first of the pilots had crossed to the main ridge and were making it across the col with the help of the strong lift, most had to use big ears to escape the cloud suck.

The tandem pair took off and made it across and climbed easily, I watched as Charlie headed across the valley and was relieved to see her start to climb on the other side. But then surprised when she came and landed at the car. She had a knot in her lines and was worried that it would cause a problem with the glider in the strong lift and chose to land. She was gutted especially as the other six pilots had seemingly made it over the col and along the next section of the range.

She walked back up to just below La Virgie for another takeoff but by then the wind had become strong, gusty and more from the south so she endured a rough ride that ended up in exactly the same place. It must have been a real psychological blow for her but she got back up and walked back to the col in super quick time, while I whizzed off to get some proper lunch.

At the col she was persuaded partly by me and partly by another competitor that the west face of the Aravis would be working and that would be the best option rather than just walking to Ugine along the east face. I left her heading that way and drove to Alberville in search of tyres for the car which desperately needed replacing, it was on my way back I received the text.

We met at the Col de Aravis this time without the cameras of the day before and quickly headed off for a pizza and bed.

This morning Charlie was in much better spirits and glad to be moving. She seems to be stonking along on her own and says she has just met another couple of competitors so has company again. She should be at the Col de Aparitatz in the next few hours where she hopes to fly from. The plan being to get on the WNW faces for this afternoon and fly as far south as possible.


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