DON’T BACK DOWN, BACK UP!

 

This one’s reprinted from about three years ago, and yes, it’s a true story.

One breezy winter day we had no chance of any usable thermal activity and the only slope angled suitably for ridge lift seemed too far up a narrow canyon to safely approach nose first. Time to improvise.

First we flew across the canyon’s mouth, drifting sideways. When we reached the opposite wall we turned back out and began a series of long crabbing figure-eights at minimum sink speed, recrossing the canyon each way and turning slowly into the wind at either side. It took a while (most things do, don’t they?) but gradually we drifted backward, downwind, up the canyon to its head without ever pointing our nose in that direction.

Common ridge lift in moderate wind seldom carries more than a thousand feet above high ground, but this venturi stuff tossed us almost twice that. High enough for courage to dive over the top and down the other side, through wicked sink into well marked wave miles downwind of home. From there we concocted a neat little cross-country, joining other wave elsewhere and returning to our local area from the north after departing to the south – on a winter day that was otherwise ‘unsoarable’.

Unless you fly right.