26 Jun 10

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Ecrins Encore

Alan and Wendy decided to call a rest day and kindly offered Ariane and me the use of the Duo, which we gladly accepted - our first week with the Duo hadn't really fulfilled our expectations. We launched onto the Gourras and soon realised it would be a technical day (in other words, hard to make any sense of the conditions). The thermals were broken and difficult to use, the mountains worked, but not very well, and it was taking so much time to get anywhere. 
The conditions on Guillaume were typical of the day. We arrived at 6500ft and spent 30 minutes crawling up towards the summit. In the end I lost patience and decided to head for Prachaval, aware that there is a peculiar hot-spot just before the Guillaume massif drops into the Clotinailles valley, on the wind- and sun-shadow side of the ridge. Sure enough, that worked, and we were able to cross into the St Crepin valley over the col des Terres Blanches. 
Another slow climb over Vautisse spurred us on to the tete d'Amont which required still more below-the-tops scraping before we were high enough to get to the Glacier Blanc, Ariane's primary objective for today's flight. By now the thermals had become more pilot-friendly, as they often do when one is well over the mountain tops, and we were able to relax a little and take in the spectacle. 

Our return was very much like mine from the previous day: a top-up at Pelvoux, a run along the spine of the Ecrins searching for a gap in the clouds, and a long descending glide into the Gap valley. We visited the pic de Bure and the valley du Jabron, but cut the flight short after it became evident that storms were on their way. Another good flight - thanks Alan and Wendy!