A short vol biv in Nice

I’ve been gaining an appreciation for the other side of spring. There is a significant amount of trashy unsettled days among the epic stand outs. I spent a full four days in Nice between trips before finally a good sunny day got me on another vol biv. Only getting the forecast in the evening I was a bit slow to move and ended up starting walking directly from the house, forgetting there was a car at my disposal!

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It was just over an hour to get to launch above Gattierres. As I ascended the smoke from various fires had began to acquire an inland lean. I launched before midday, following a climb as it drifted back and trying to pick which side of the ridge to position myself. I got it wrong, with some leeside lift getting me over the plateau I landed on a 4wd track and continued to Mouton d’Anou where at least a dozen vultures soared. A similar number of French walkers watched me launch in the stiff breeze, luckily on my first attempt. I was in a limestone field and had to be light on my feet.

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I made a small crossing but try as I might I couldn’t get above 1200m and decided not to make a marginal glide over high tension electricity lines, landing amongst prickles and thorns between two parallel lower tension electricity lines instead!

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Then I followed another 4wd track to the sealed road and followed that for 3km to Cousegoules. Here a track took me to, voila, a paragliding launch! (luckily I dropped the pack to look just around the corner and spot it, rather than launching in the rough where I was).

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Finally the day became easier and I took a thermal straight up and followed the high ridge to Greolieres, a scenic evening flight among high cliffs. I decided to land high near one of the peculiar flat grassy spots scattered among the limestone fields. Touch down was a disappointment, I hit hard, a minor (but taken very seriously) ankle twist and scratch to the thigh.

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The next morning clagged up, initially some broken stratocumulus from the north then thickening altostratus. Gingerly walking on my left ankle, cautious not to roll it on uneven ground, I found a small patch of grass and luckily the wing again performed and I was off in a very light breeze. A sled ride to Cipieres, landing short to talk to a pilot. Probably should have had coffee with him, he works for xc magazine, but pressed on towards Gourdon. Barely a car to be seen and the ankle seemed fine on steady flat ground so I continued toward the cliff, about an hour and a half. Watched an Aspen4 pilot soaring and chatted to him for a good hour when he top landed.

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As soon as the sun appeared slightly brighter and we had a few puffs up the face I was off. Some thermic lift but barely lost any height crossing the Gorge de Loup. Up to about 1200m after the crossing which felt marvelous – I did want to fly home but hadn’t thought it a realistic possibility. The clouds to the east were lower and I scudded under them, hoping I wouldn’t have to land (the crux of flying in this area).

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Finally a victory climb on the home hill before landing at the nearest patch of grass to home. A fight to get down and a small applause before I introduced myself – cousins of an old work mate. Then a ten minute walk home, ending on a high. Very cool to do a round trip with five flights and in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t hitch an inch despite sticking my thumb out once or twice. It was a gloomy afternoon with cloud lowering below the hill so it was pleasing to have used the day.

 

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About sharemyjoys

Nick Neynens
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