It’s now Saturday evening and we are all sat here relaxing at the beautiful Finca at Ansermanuevo, enjoying a rum while looking out over the infinity pool to the lights sparkling in the valley below.
The last day at Piedachinche involved an easy morning with another leisurely breakfast and a chill out and swim before loading up the gear and heading off to launch. With conditions looking good we set a task to the North, keeping the crew close to the main highway to make retrieve easier as we had to drive to our next location. Early on the thermals were weak and the first pilots away struggled to make much altitude and began to go down. As the later pilots launched the thermals were stronger but a strong northerly had kicked in so the climbs close to the mountain were character building to say the least! As we pushed out towards the first turnpoint, the headwind made progress extremely difficult and we were all grounded without making the first turnpoint…….bugger! Nik did very well, managing to push on ahead of the rest after a really nice low save, one of those satisfying moments when the feet are out of the pod for landing and the next minute you are climbing away with a huge cheesy grin. Also,a big well done to Thee and Frank who both did their first cross country flights after some commendable thermalling from launch, good work dudes.
After all pilots were retrieved, we headed up to Ansermanuevo where we transferred to the jeeps for the crazy drive, all hanging off the tailgates or sat on the roofs as we thundered up the mountainside. Once unloaded we settled into our rooms then straight into the pool with a well earned cool beer.
We got up to a beautiful sunrise this morning and a fantastic breakfast spread prepared by the wonderful staff. After morning briefing we took the short drive up to launch and got prepped. We set an out and return task but the northerly drift was going to make things difficult, a day for tactical flying. Thee and Frank went early, closely followed by Tony and Andy, all of them managing to get early climbs before pushing out to the flats to start the task. Once again the thermals were weak and scrappy making any distance difficult, but Tony managed to push on Northwards after some good work in the climbs. The rest of us were away shortly after and formed a good gaggle ready for the push North. I held with the gaggle of Nik, Matt and Mike while Lee pushed on ahead to mark the next climb. After topping out I led the guys on the glide to the next thermal where Lee was climbing strongly with a big gaggle of vultures. It put a grin on my face to see them all cruising out to the flats side by side. Despite some faffing by the chuckle brothers we managed to contact the next climb and worked hard in the weak lift. Unfortunately Mike dropped out at this point and made a nice landing by the main road after a valiant effort, while Nik, Matt and I pushed on. We could see Lee and Tony ahead, with Lee trying to get to Tony to help him out as he had been working the route on his own up to now. Matt and I managed to hit another climb, working it with more than a dozen vultures which was just brilliant. Nik pushed on but was unlucky and had to put down in the the same field where Lee and Tony had landed a few minutes earlier. Matt and I topped out and pushed on for a few more km before dropping in by the main road. Although no big distances were flown, it was a fun flight as we had to work hard for every foot of altitude and the vultures were stunning as usual.
Andy, Thee and Frank made a second flight later in the afternoon, Andy having a jolly little time flying the route we flew earlier and landing on the road where Matt and I had, which was a great effort as he had no other pilots to help along the way. After a few beers in one of the brilliant local bars in town, we headed back up the mountain for a swim and a chill out. Laugh of the day was at Niks expense as he managed to headbutt the bottom of the pool as he dived in, though thankfully neither the pool or his cranium were badly damaged in the collision!
More fun and games tomorrow……….