22 Jun 10

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Today's forecast of lighter winds and increased temperatures over yesterday's brought a mood of optimism to the audience. It was to be Mike and Angie's last day, so it would have been excellent for them to leave on a high.  

Just before today's grid was launched, we were treated to an exhibition of ultralight glider launching techniques. The ultralight was tied to a microlight by means of a rope hanging from the back of the propeller, and the combination became airborne in a very impressive  20 metres. 

Ultralight Gliding

Hongrie worked well today and it was an easy hop to Authon. Auribeau, however, was still rather coy in supplying useable lift so I ended up back on la Bigue for a repeat of yesterday's performance. Once on the Coupe I was able to run the parcours northwards and devise a plan. Cloudbase looked better over the Barcelonnette valley than it did towards Guillaume, so I took a climb at les Trois Eveches and headed off to the Grande Berard. Cloudbase was around 10,500ft, making it easy to reach the north side of the valley above the tops (always a wise move in this valley), and I continued onwards towards the col de Vars.   

Near col de Vars

The panorama was sublime. Due to the recent poor weather, rather a lot of snow had fallen over Alpine ranges, and the combination of pure white snow, dark rocks and sunlight striking through a cloudbase barely over the summits was enough to make any normal person's head spin in wonder. I continued past St Veran and the col d'Agnel towards Mont Viso, which today was mostly hidden by cloud. Cloudbase was now 11,500ft and climbs were easy to find.  

Col d'Agnel

Mont Viso foothills

From Viso I headed north, past Rochebrune, beyond which cloudbase was even higher. I managed to get within spitting distance of the col d'Etache and decided to call it a day at that point. A chute of cloud filled the col and bases looked lower in the Modane valley, so that will be a pleasure better left for another day.

Back at the tete de Peyron, I took a straight glide over the southern edges of the Ecrins to Dormillouse via Guillaume. Fully expecting the parcours to work well I was a little disconcerted to find myself sliding down to Seyne, but I managed to get a good climb when it mattered and I was soon back on course for the lac Sainte Croix. 

The Serremontdenier was not working  particularly well, but there were enough small spurts of lift to get me to the Pont d'Aiguines and back to the main ridge without concern. Then it was a direct glide home and the end of an excellent day.

Dinner was at the refurbished Iris de Suse (now rebranded as the Lou Castču) in Misons village. It used to be run by a very strange man, the bonkers offspring of d'Artagnan and Basil Fawlty. I can now report that normality has been restored, and the new restaurant is back on our recommended list.


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