Friday, May 05, 2006


Jerome Maupoint, author of the beautiful paragliding book "Stolen Moments" is in town shooting for a week or so. Yesterday we flew Swansea near Invermere, fantastic day, four hours of turning circles above very snowy peaks. Light winds, good lift, it was about as good as it gets in the spring. Josh flew the Zulu, I flew the new Boomerang Sport.

My favorite part of the flight was playing over the top of a ridge down near Fairmont--the tops of the ridges still look mid-winter, big whipped cream rolls of snow everywhere, plus the snow mellows the thermals out a bit making it more reasonable to fly close to the ground, a rare treat and something I normally avoid like the plague in the Golden-Canal flats area. It wasn't even too cold at altitude, but I was dressed in Himalaya-style clothing in anticipation of suffering. Thanks to Tobias and the nutter mountain bike crew for the lift up the hill too.

The Sport is one silky and intuitive glider. It normally takes me a few flights to figure out a new glider, but I felt totally at home on it after only a couple of hours of thermalling. I flew several DHV 2/3 gliders a few years back and liked them at first, but ultimately decided DHV 2/3 gliders mainly offered the performance of a 2 and all the danger of a 3. So far the Boom Sport provides enough feel of the air for me to keep it inflated, without requiring nearly as much attention as the full comp Boomerangs. The Sport feels more like the Boom III than the Boom IV, especially on the speed bar where it seems to "firm up" and remain stable. We had to use a fair amount of bar to get back to Swansea, my 5020 said the performance stayed relatively good on bar. The "feel" was good too, the Sport stays pitch stable when cutting through chop upwind, that's where the difference between a comp glider and a DHV 2 is usually most apparent. I'll write a bit more about it after I get some more hours on it.

I'll post some photos later, we're out the door to have at it again today. I love spring flying!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Atlanta, back home

Houseboat on Lake Lanier, Bruce photo.

Atlanta: wore me out.

It’s been a great couple of days here in Atlanta, with a lots of new experiences. Giving a “alpine start” show at 7:00 in the morning was a first, but I didn’t see too many people nodding off, and I’m still thinking about my tour of the hospital with Dr. R, it was educational.

A week ago I was climbing cracks in Indian Creek, Utah, where I had to shake the sand out of my sleeping bag with bloody hands before bed; in Atlanta I’ve had to eat the mints on my pillow to get into the thick sheets of the Ritz Carlton, real hardship, but I’ve managed. Plush hotels always feel mixed to me--very nice, but the reality is that my sandy sleeping bag was at least as luxurious as the Ritz, and the morning caffeine went down easier with a view of red rocks and the possibility of a day grinding yet more skin off my hands. Luxury for me has nothing to do with thread count or valet service; luxury is waking up with an easy mind and a wide-open day. Still, the mints were tasty...

Wednesday’s outdoor activities were curtailed by rain here in Atlanta, but in the evening I went to the Climbing Shop/ Wall Crawlerz gym and met up with one of the owners, Tim, to get a boulder session on. I’d also had a box of the new Scarpa shoes shipped there, I always love opening big-ass boxes of new gear. The new Scarpa climbing shoes look wicked, definitely the best rock shoes I’ve seen out of Scarpa in a long time. I’ll write some more on that once I’ve used them a bit more. Tim and a few locals beat the hell out of me in Wall Crawlerz for a few hours, it’s got great bouldering and a motivated crew of locals. The high humidity (the locals said it was low…) conditions destroyed my skin quickly, but good fun. Went out for beers with Tim and Dr. Dan from the AMC and his family, Atlanta is a rocking city at night in comparison to Canmore, good fun.

Thursday was a “perfect” three-sport day. I hooked up with a couple of the “Bad Apple” paramotorheads, led by Bruce. Bruce has a really nice houseboat on Lake Lanier, we ended up flying his motor near the lake and having a great afternoon of it. Perfect smooth 400fpm thermals, warm air, hell yeah! Thanks to Bruce and Worth, that was one fun afternoon! From there I drove over to Stone Mountain with the idea of getting a run and quick solo up the 500-foot rock dome on. Stone Mountain is Yosemite-style granite dome about 20 minutes from Atlanta, I’d always wanted to climb it, and figured there would be some good trail running around the base. It was a bit weird when I got to Stone Mountain—no climbing anchors, no trails to the base of the wall, weird. I ran around for about 30 minutes trying to find a way to get to the base of the cliff, but was thwarted by bush and poison ivy. Eventually I worked my way into the cliff and soloed an easy but fun slab line in the perfect evening light. Strangely, there was a line chipped into the cliff at about 100 feet off the deck, but there’s also a huge chipped carving in the middle of the main face so I didn’t think too much of it. As I topped out and hopped over the mesh fence a guy came up and said, “Ah, there’s no climbing allowed here, you can be arrested for that! Didn’t you see the “no climbing line?” Oh, so that’s what the line was… It all worked out OK, but I think it’s insane that climbing is illegal on public lands. The top of the dome has almost alpine-style vegetation (and a tram), it's definitely worth a visit. Finished out the day with another session at Wall Crawlerz with Tim and the Thursday night boulder crew, some strong youths there! I was left barely able to hold my beer glass.

Back home in Canmore now, thanks to the many good people who helped out in Atlanta!

Workouts: Steady bouldering in the gyms (thanks to Tim, Zach and Wall Crawlerz), one day on the rock, lots of Yoga and running. Finally getting some finger strength back, it sure does take more time than it did when I was 21.