Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 4 Zugspitze

Day five started with a pleasant walk up to one of the only grassy launch options I could see in the surrounding hills. Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, was 68km to the west and beyond lay the Lermoos turn point 4. I top landed after a short technical flight, was overtaken, and then got back in the air and raced onward to reach Lermoos in fifth place at about 3pm. See the 8 minute video

Early on day 5 I was in fifth place (SUI1 and FRA2 off map)

The first flight was quite crucial given the lack of relaunching options, and it was really technical. There was about 15km/h of northwest wind blowing and after launching on the southeast side I tried that side before finally coming back to find a climb on the original face. Working my west along the ridge I had to push bar to edge my way along in front of broad spurs. Finding a climb I found very turbulent air, which I believe was a low level jet which was in the process of mixing out with the early morning thermals. In any case I felt I would be flushed if I pushed on into the lee, so I landed on the ridge.

Walking along the ridge the race chopper paid me a visit, it was quite exciting once I was comfortable that it wasn’t an unwanted rescue helicopter! (Photo by Sebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool.)

During my walk I saw the others flying and they in fact flew straight past (Benoit FRA4, Pal HUN, Ferdy NLD). What a way to get me motivated. There was no sign of any turbulence any more and I hurried to find a launch, although it was tricky to get off the shallow grassy slope.

From here the flying was great. I was on my own again and saw the Zugspitze like a beacon in the distance, with good clouds on the way the direct route was obvious. I flew fast and regained fifth position once I’d reached the turn point (although Benoit had moved into the top 5 in lieu of Nelson). It was really enjoyable while it lasted – I’d have to land to sign the board before my flight to Italy.

Day 5 tracks for NZL, FRA4, GER2, FRA3, HUN, NLD, CZE

The video (scroll down) features subtitles:

0:00:04.560,0:00:08.100
so last night we stayed in this little
hotel just here

0:00:08.260,0:00:11.900
and now I’m on the road trying to catch up with Nick

0:00:12.220,0:00:16.640
so walking up the hill now eating some of the mum’s fruit salad

0:00:17.220,0:00:22.140
so we’re just going to head up that hill just behind the trees there

0:00:23.160,0:00:27.210
and he’s basically seen a bit of a
grass patch there or there

0:00:27.210,0:00:31.700
[yesterday] it was awesome to land at the turn point; and then after the turn point

0:00:31.700,0:00:34.600
I rushed up the hill in the first patch of grass I found, I launched

0:00:34.600,0:00:37.940
and smashed it up here a fair way which is great

0:00:38.140,0:00:40.960
I’m going to be really annoyed if we cross a stream

0:00:41.140,0:00:44.340
close to the top because there are probably five or six litres in my bag

0:00:44.520,0:00:49.170
at the moment which Nick is going to use
as ballast to keep his paraglider

0:00:49.170,0:00:53.780
at upper end of the weight which
apparently makes it a little bit more efficient

0:00:53.780,0:00:57.940
anyway, birds are singing and
I’m off to climb up

0:00:59.020,0:01:02.080
to hopefully thermal up and get away

0:01:02.880,0:01:09.540
ideally I’d get to Lermoos [turn point 4] early / mid-afternoon

0:01:09.580,0:01:15.020
because it’s only 9:10am now, and then continue on towards Italy

0:01:18.360,0:01:21.720
Oh I dropped another bomb, sorry about that

0:01:21.920,0:01:23.540
it might help the wind

0:01:24.940,0:01:28.780
I’ve got grass tied to the
lines to stop it falling down the slope

0:01:29.560,0:01:35.760
I’m taking a little bit of a chance with the
thermals but I can’t stay here all day

0:01:36.620,0:01:38.640
otherwise the valley wind will get me

0:01:39.200,0:01:40.540
I better go

0:01:44.200,0:01:50.320
looks like he’s… well he’s in the air so
obviously the hope is that he’s going to

0:01:50.330,0:01:53.560
get onto a thermal pretty quick and gain some height

0:01:53.560,0:01:55.920
I’m a little bit nervous because…

0:02:03.240,0:02:05.560
looking good so far

0:02:09.080,0:02:11.560
but it looks
like he’s off to an okay start

0:02:11.560,0:02:14.840
he’s already already a few meters above me

0:02:15.400,0:02:18.600
meanwhile Ben was hoping he wouldn’t have to walk up the hill again

0:02:18.980,0:02:21.440
pretty hard to figure but I guess Nick is

0:02:21.440,0:02:25.780
probably about 50 meters below me so
obviously he hasn’t found the

0:02:25.780,0:02:30.010
magic thermal just yet and I’m not really sure…
I’m not experienced enough with it to

0:02:30.010,0:02:32.280
know whether or not I should be really
nervous at the moment but

0:02:32.280,0:02:34.020
I’m feeling a bit uneasy

0:02:35.280,0:02:38.280
I’m pretty much directly over launch now

0:02:38.520,0:02:41.560
and I’m pretty stoked to be finally getting up

0:02:41.560,0:02:46.280
I went out to this side of the hill, and there’s quite a breeze coming through

0:02:46.280,0:02:51.520
only 15km/h or so but it’s only early in the morning, and the thermals are pretty weak

0:02:51.980,0:02:55.260
you can see these clouds are just starting to work

0:02:56.680,0:03:00.060
I’m just soaring the wind now, it’s a bit more comfortable

0:03:00.060,0:03:02.820
I had to push the speed bar to get around

0:03:02.820,0:03:08.060
we’ve got a few landing options but very few [for] relaunching.. if I get up there…

0:03:10.080,0:03:13.760
so, the last one [hill] on this ridge is where I launched

0:03:14.100,0:03:16.140
on the side you can’t see

0:03:16.140,0:03:19.360
and it’s super technical pushing along the ridge

0:03:19.520,0:03:22.060
and now I’m getting up (hopefully)

0:03:23.760,0:03:25.540
super turbulent here

0:03:27.440,0:03:30.620
it’s going to be hard to get in front of this baby

0:03:30.620,0:03:34.300
I don’t know if it’s going to get better through the day, or what

0:03:47.660,0:03:49.240
this will be perfect

0:03:56.600,0:03:59.760
I think that’s pretty good result

0:04:00.500,0:04:03.300
I didn’t want to rip the wing on the rocks

0:04:03.660,0:04:07.880
maybe as the day goes on the wind will ease and mix out a bit

0:04:08.600,0:04:09.560
we’ll see, but

0:04:10.800,0:04:14.540
looks like I could have lost a little
height quick or worse then

0:04:14.900,0:04:18.280
so I’m pretty happy with my position

0:04:18.280,0:04:20.780
actually.. just spotted a couple of paragliders

0:04:20.780,0:04:22.740
really low down there

0:04:22.740,0:04:26.920
I tell you what, I reckon having the helicopter is a good motivation

0:04:26.920,0:04:31.160
and another motivation is
finding a track

0:04:31.160,0:04:34.900
it was pretty hopeless bashing through the juniper

0:04:34.914,0:04:37.760
right I’ve just seen everyone fly past

0:04:37.760,0:04:42.030
so that little turbulence before maybe
it was just that wind starting to mix in

0:04:42.030,0:04:46.780
and they don’t seem to have much trouble
up there

0:04:46.780,0:04:48.820
I tried to wait for a puff of wind

0:04:48.820,0:04:52.560
but really this launch was too shallow and I didn’t make it

0:04:57.220,0:04:59.560
oh this is ridiculous

0:05:06.560,0:05:08.600
this time I waited for a better thermal cycle

0:05:08.600,0:05:11.720
and used every last inch of height that I could

0:05:11.800,0:05:15.340
meanwhile the others were flying on further ahead

0:05:22.520,0:05:23.840
I’ll give it a go

0:05:31.900,0:05:33.340
better than last time

0:05:47.600,0:05:50.400
so my launch is that flat spot in the saddle

0:05:50.860,0:05:52.620
it leads down, and, yeah..

0:05:54.340,0:05:56.900
I had to wait for a favourable breeze

0:05:56.900,0:06:00.440
there’s a couple of guys on the summit, just on my wingtip

0:06:00.580,0:06:01.840
what a day!

0:06:04.020,0:06:06.340
straight at the Zugspitze!

0:06:09.740,0:06:13.140
I’m thinking of taking a direct line towards Zugspitze

0:06:13.180,0:06:17.740
it’s not along the rocky limestone cliffs.. but I’ll do that another day

0:06:18.900,0:06:21.640
looks like a pretty good set of clouds

0:06:23.700,0:06:25.480
.. the whole family

0:06:38.360,0:06:41.000
well I’m glad I caught up…

0:06:41.540,0:06:44.580
… but I’d still rather be on my own!

0:06:44.700,0:06:47.260
so I’m here with Manu [GER2]

0:06:49.340,0:06:52.780
as I’ve been flying along here, I’ve been thinking,

0:06:52.800,0:06:55.680
bloody hell! I walked a long way last xalps!

0:06:55.680,0:06:59.500
from [to] all the way over there, the turn point is still 34km away

0:07:00.500,0:07:06.160
all through there… pretty much as far as you can see

0:07:06.920,0:07:08.520
absolutely ridiculous

0:07:10.040,0:07:12.920
yep, this certainly beats walking

0:07:16.780,0:07:18.840
what a pilot you are, eh? sorry!

0:07:19.700,0:07:24.580
you know, some of your [Wedge tailed eagle] cousins in Australia are real pricks!

0:07:30.180,0:07:32.460
full speed, in the wrong direction

0:07:36.920,0:07:40.180
this guy has come to get me back on the rails

0:07:44.500,0:07:47.080
I misjudged the wind

0:07:48.160,0:07:49.600
look at these bluffs!

0:07:52.200,0:07:55.200
[getting through this col is] a bit risky.. it’s under 12km [to turn point 4]

0:07:57.820,0:07:59.320
Zugspitze!

0:08:17.560,0:08:20.180
thanks guys!

 

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About sharemyjoys

Nick Neynens
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