Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 9 Matterhorn

The main obstacle on day 12 was to cross over the highest part of the Alps and tag the iconic Matterhorn turn point on the way. Taking off early to ensure I was in the game, I had to land in the Matter tal (valley) and wait a little before having another go, carefully making sure I found a thermal to avoid the valley full of cables. Tagging the Matterhorn went well from there but I wasn’t lucky enough to cross the divide in the air, so Pal (HUN) and Basti (GER1) got a lead on me as I walked over flattish wet snow in the midday sun back to the Italian border. From there I was poised to fly back into France. 

The early hours of the morning I spent traversing around the valley, finding my way past bluffs in the cloud. Reaching the pass the views opened up.

Near the pass where I had my first day 12 flight

Obligatory Matterhorn shot

I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.

0:00:04.460,0:00:07.520
so with that strong wind yesterday…

0:00:08.700,0:00:13.060
you wouldn’t expect that today there wouldn’t
really even be enough to launch

0:00:14.320,0:00:17.020
it’s very light.
I’m hoping I don’t snag a line on these rocks

0:00:17.880,0:00:19.720
I’m even thinking maybe I should move

0:00:25.360,0:00:28.740
I flew into the Matter tal,
where it wasn’t working yet. Not quite

0:00:29.340,0:00:31.340
I’ll wait a little bit longer, walk up the top of here

0:00:33.540,0:00:36.540
and, as expected, because I’ve been here before

0:00:37.720,0:00:39.480
it’s a scary place for cables

0:00:39.880,0:00:41.480
there’s one that goes down that way

0:00:43.780,0:00:46.060
there’s what looks to be ravens, circling [in lift]

0:00:48.920,0:00:50.220
I’m so nervous

0:01:29.540,0:01:31.380
that point there, not much happening and then
all of a sudden, bang!

0:01:33.040,0:01:34.660
pretty feisty little thermal

0:01:36.480,0:01:38.120
stay in it at all costs

0:01:44.560,0:01:45.360
so let’s go!

0:01:56.880,0:02:00.160
I’ve just been chatting to Phil [from Australia]

0:02:00.880,0:02:04.640
the [paraglider] that lives right down here, in Zermatt

0:02:04.880,0:02:08.340
he said, “stay high, stay out of the valley wind…”

0:02:08.720,0:02:14.160
“there’s north fohn and you probably can’t get high enough
but see what you can do” (low cloud base)

0:02:17.680,0:02:21.000
so yeah, that’s where it’s at.
Nice view of the Matterhorn

0:02:37.380,0:02:38.980
pretty iconic mountain

0:02:38.980,0:02:43.260
I haven’t seen the Matterhorn from quite this angle
it looks so steep

0:02:45.880,0:02:46.920
exaggerated

0:03:07.600,0:03:08.880
Monaco is a bit far…

0:03:10.080,0:03:11.100
see how far we can get

0:03:14.040,0:03:15.520
yeah it was a long slog up that glacier

0:03:18.740,0:03:21.020
fairly flat and it went forever

0:03:30.640,0:03:32.560
south face of the Matterhorn

0:04:26.700,0:04:31.160
typical Italy. The mountains are so high
and the valleys are so deep

0:04:35.020,0:04:37.500
yeah you want to stay up high don’t you

0:04:37.720,0:04:41.320
this hill is supposed to be the best thermal in the Alps

0:04:41.600,0:04:43.600
and it’s the bloody worst one!

0:04:44.160,0:04:46.540
the westerly is really stuffing things up

0:04:48.800,0:04:50.640
there is some climbs, but..

0:04:57.880,0:05:01.000
it’s essentially westerly in the Aosta valley

0:05:03.660,0:05:06.960
[westerly] coming down from Mont Blanc

0:05:07.620,0:05:10.180
so I should have come here a lot earlier

0:05:10.780,0:05:14.620
yeah I haven’t really been getting into this flight so far today

0:05:18.800,0:05:22.960
it was just a bit raw in those big mountains
and I felt a bit tired

0:05:24.560,0:05:28.360
you can see a vulture,
and there’s chamois running around

0:05:28.360,0:05:34.120
[a friend] just sent me an email too, he said
“enjoy the last bit”, probably quite good advice

0:05:46.620,0:05:50.060
some easy miles now, nearly 50km/h on trim

0:05:52.000,0:05:54.180
with the valley wind rather than upper headwind

0:05:56.100,0:05:57.220
and very buoyant

0:06:01.740,0:06:04.220
I’ve had the yawns a bit today in this flight

0:06:04.420,0:06:06.600
but this is pretty awesome really

0:06:10.580,0:06:13.760
because of this westerly really, I’ve gone a little

0:06:13.940,0:06:17.560
more on the Italian side than I probably should have

0:06:18.240,0:06:21.680
would be good to stay on the French side of the divide

0:06:30.000,0:06:30.800
amazing

0:06:47.260,0:06:49.720
Italy is just mind blowing

0:06:49.960,0:06:52.300
oh you’ve got to love it and you’ve got to hate it
don’t you

0:06:55.120,0:06:58.000
these mountains are just too big! Enormous

0:06:58.260,0:07:00.180
the ridges just go forever

0:07:03.600,0:07:06.160
I guess the thermals are so good in these mountains that

0:07:06.740,0:07:10.100
the valleys have got subsidence from the thermals

0:07:13.100,0:07:15.320
the thermals in the mountains are as good

0:07:15.760,0:07:17.940
as the inversion in the valley sucks

0:07:24.840,0:07:26.280
over 4000 metres again

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About sharemyjoys

Nick Neynens
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