23 Dec December Adventures
Over the holidays I went to visit family and friends in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s been years since I’ve really been in cold, snowy weather, so besides enjoying the festivities, it was also an awesome opportunity for some snowy adventures! I shoveled a driveway for the fist time in my life (haha), went snowshoeing for the first time, and had the opportunity to go snowboarding at Solitude, which turned out to be one of my favorite ski resorts yet. True to the name, the crowds were sparse and there was never more than a 30 second wait for the lift. The runs were fun and challenging and the views were beautiful! I definitely recommend a visit.
Besides snowshoeing and snowboarding, I also went paragliding in the snow for the first time! This proved to be a challenging day of lessons learned.
After corresponding with some local pilots I arrived at South Side, Point of the Mountain late in the morning, when the wind was forecasted to pick up. It never did. The day vacillated between completely still and small puffs of katabatic wind. The wind was too light to cause any turbulence or rotor though, so along with a few other pilots I decided to spend the day working on forward launches and spot landings.
Even though I’ve been paragliding for several years now, I still spend a lot of time kiting and I generally pride myself on my ground handling and launching skills. Ha! I was about to get schooled. At my home site, we have a large, clear launching area that slopes gently downward, allowing plenty of room to run and maneuver, making even forward launches fairly straightforward.
This didn’t do much to prepare me for two foot deep snow, and a flat launch with a sharp downward drop at the edge. The first few times I attempted to launch, my wing frontaled at the edge and I found myself face planting into the snow.
I didn’t understand. I was good at forward launching! Why couldn’t I do this? It was frustrating and I had to take a few minutes to refocus and think about what was going wrong. Due to the lack of slope and the deep snow I knew I wasn’t moving as quickly as normal and I realized I probably needed to drive forward harder, being more aggressive with my torpedo position. I also needed to be more attentive to the pressure in my wing as I took that final step over the edge, as the sudden drop almost amounted to an unintended jump. Armed with these thoughts I tried again and finally, success! A great launch!
My flight was short, but I was still happy! It’s always great just to be in the air, and sometimes even more rewarding when you have to work for it. I flew several times that day, leaving with some spot landings in the back of my flight log and some lessons learned at the front of my mind.
I think days like this are one reason I love paragliding and other adventure sports so much. These sports are a constant challenge. No matter how skilled you are, the opportunities to grow and learn- whether its about conditions, your glider, or even yourself – are never ending. Along with the awesome views and the fact that we get to fly, I think this is just another great part of the adventure!
Happy Holidays Everybody!