No train no pain

I wrote this nearly two years ago in the lead up to my debut xalps (2015), but decided it was too controversial to publish! So many people would ask me about my training and then give me a really worried look when hearing my response. Losing any sense of humility after a good run last xalps, and not seeing much change to my attitudes since, here it is…

This blog is supposed to be about the adventures I have flying in the mountains, but since being accepted, the xalps has never been far from my mind. When I’m introduced as the crazy xalps guy the first thing I am invariably asked about is my training. In time I’ll whittle down the word count of my response to save my breath, but here is the long answer to what I think about training – without mentioning that horrible word again until the conclusion of the article.

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Bali paragliding from Mt Agung

Dawn on Agung (Rinjani in distance)

Dawn on Agung 3031m (Rinjani 3726m in distance)

I allocated a few days to this mission in tropical Bali amongst the warmest oceans of the world in what was supposed to be the dry season (July). Arriving at Denpasar it was hot and humid and huge wafting cumulus filled the sky, blocking the sun and slowly moving the moisture through the atmosphere. I was tired and sick and I’d just stumbled out of the airport into densely populated Kuta without any firm plans so I found a cheap room for the night literally walking distance from the airport and went to the beach for a swim. Nice waves and the odd bit of plastic brushing past your leg. If I squinted and the clouds were in the right place, I could see the hazy cone of the Agung volcano in the distance from the surf.

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Meteorology unit 1

Since learning to fly my interest has broadened from exploring the mountains to understanding the air. I am now studying meteorology, which is giving a physical and mathematical background to some of the concepts I have learnt, as well as introducing some new ideas. Meteorology can get complex pretty quickly, so it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll try to focus on a few different maps and charts that illustrate a few principles that I found interesting in the introductory part of the course. It’s not necessarily well organised or explained so don’t expect to understand it all in a single reading… but hopefully it provides some insight into what is meteorology is about.

Himawari satellite viewer

Himawari satellite viewer

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New Zealand paragliding record, continued

We thought last summer was amazing but already this year we have been flying further than ever before, and it’s only the first week of January. We’ve had some European visitors (it’s slowly catching on) who have probably wondered what all this talk about the norwester is about (after a scary start to the season), the locals have taken to vol biv as if it’s the next big thing, and it seems like nearly every day is a 100 km day. Until I flew 200 – and then did it again – a first for New Zealand.

Tim’s NZHGPA summary

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Mt Cook in the distance, shrouded in cloud

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Vol biv in South America

Late in 2006 I decided to learn to fly, but first I underwent knee surgery and during my recovery an exploratory tour of South America, always intending to return some day. Having limited information about flying there and requiring some basic Spanish the second highest mountain range in the world offers some amazing potential for adventure. In the last few months traversing the Andes from north to south I went back to the bold unsupported discovery mode I operated on here during my first visit, but with the additional depth of experience that vol biv offers between the obligatory long stints in buses. Having recently got engaged and signing up for a meteorology course next year it’s been a busy time and this trip felt somewhat like a “last hurrah”. I hope to write more about each trip (considering putting a book together soon) but here is a preview, as short as I can make it.

Another dream flight ticked off in the heart of South America

Another dream flight ticked off in the heart of South America

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