Thursday, 2 October 2008
Paragliding in the Italian Dolomites
September 28th, 2008.
The Dolomites are one of the best flying sites in Europe but they are only flyable for six weeks a year. There must have been over two hundred gliders on the Col Rodella take-off with paragliders, hang gliders and rigid wings setting up everywhere. Pilots were fighting for a space to launch and out in front the house thermal looked frantic with sixty plus gliders circling in close proximity. It was quite frankly a zoo.
The task for the day was a simple 23km circuit flying over some of the main peaks of the area, the Sasso Lungo, Sella Group and Marmolada. Although it was a stable day the conditions seemed unusually turbulent and it quickly became evident that the sunny south faces were in the lee as the north wind had strengthened quite a bit. Kelly came on the radio asking us to be careful as he had already witnessed a hang glider tumble and a paraglider pilot almost falling into his canopy, not good to hear. Adam and I pretty much did the route, both getting to the Marmolada and both getting drilled in the strong valley wind to land a couple of kilometers short of the main landing field in Campitello. Flying at over 3000m gave some spectacular views of the Dolomites.
September 29th, 2008.
The Rosen Garten was our first objective today. It was even more stable than yesterday but with much less of the troublesome north wind. However, we did have strong temperature inversions and climbing out was tricky. Only Adam and I managed to break through the inversion to get above the main peaks and needles of the Rosen Garten. Later both Kevin and Adam managed to find that elusive strong climb and get back above the Sasso Lungo and then stay above the inversion while the rest of us slowly tired of the traffic beneath it, finally giving up for a nice beer at the landing field.
The next few days we had a lot of high level wind with a low cloud base and so cross country flights were definitely out. Instead we went for a boat about above the aerials west of the Col Rodella launch a few times.