Pyrenees reconnaissance for X-pyr

For the last few months I’ve been looking forward to the upcoming X-pyr race, crossing the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Here are some photos, maps, and thoughts about the race, following the road trip with my Aussie mates last month. The adventure starts on July 13th – the same day Holland will win the World Cup!

Over Collorada (TP 3) looking east

Over Collorada (TP 3) looking east

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Flying Mestia, Svaneti, in the high Georgian Caucasus

I had been watching the forecast for weeks, waiting for an opportunity to go out to the highest mountains of the Caucasus in the Svaneti region of Georgia. Even so on arrival everything was very damp and it was another couple of days until I was treated to some fantastic flying in big mountains. Mestia was a pleasant town to stay in readiness for the right conditions in the unstable spring (late May) weather patterns.

Looking south (Mestia hidden) from slopes of Ushba

Looking south (Mestia hidden) from slopes of Ushba

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Flying over Lagodekhi in Georgia’s northeast

After returning from Kazbegi the unsettled spring weather returned and after several days getting myself far too comfortable in Tbilisi I thought I better return to the mountains to restore some sense of credibility! Just a short overnight trip but a good stretch of the legs to get from the plain right up to the peaks, as well as a nice flight on each day to enhance the experience.

The Caucasus mountains near the Russian and Azerbaijan border from Lagodekhi

The Caucasus mountains near the Russian and Azerbaijan border from Lagodekhi

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X-berg, X-pyr, ex-lovers

Having really enjoyed X-berg, and subsequently signing up for X-pyr, I  am really excited about this kind of event and I’ve thought about having something similar on my home turf in New Zealand. Looking at maps and planning possibilities is half the fun of this kind of event. Similar to vol biv but with a few extra rules to define the purpose and make it a competitive challenge.

A climb over Paradise from under 2000 feet amsl

A climb over Paradise from under 2000 feet amsl

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Flying Kazbegi in Georgia’s Caucasus

After a reconnaissance long weekend trip with the Tbilisi ex-pats it was time to head out on my own and fly the big mountains. Needless to say I was a little intimidated. Tim asking about emergency procedures, reading about Dave Turner‘s LM5 falling out of the sky, and being warned of venturing into Ossetia or Russia, which both happen to be downwind of the “very strong winds” at this time of year. I was tired after an early start and then waiting around at the Didube bus terminal, but I was invigorated by the views as we climbed toward the Jvari pass on the well travelled road to Kazbegi (Stepantsminda), a few hours north of Tbilisi.

Above Jvali pass (2400m) looking SE towards Gudauri

Above Jvali pass (2400m) looking SE towards Gudauri

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