It was a huge disappointment to miss the Santa Cruz Flats comp this year. Kind of a dichotomy of feelings when the weather proved to provide the best year yet over the desert and agro lands of AZ. I was both bumming to miss racing with my friends in such stellar conditions and at the same time, really stoked for them while I enjoyed watching and reading the results and hearing the stories as they unfolded. Congrats to Jeff, Dustino and Mitch. Lights out flying boys. I’d certainly be lying if I said I wasn’t proud that they were all in T2c’s and Coverts. Well done representing guys;-)
The reason behind my absence is that I was given a rare and exciting chance to go on an expedition to climb in the big mountains of Western China. Trying to balance quality time with the family, getting Coverts done for pilots around the world, training hard, tandems, teaching lessons and the endless logistics and bureaucratic red tape involved in a big trip to the Himalaya made it an obvious choice. I couldn’t do both, nor could I pass up the opportunity to fulfill the dream to try for a first ascent in one of the Greater Ranges. I am really hopeful that we will find wide experience and personal growth that will help with a solid head space for the Spring Comps. After all, it’s all about progress. We will be climbing in the Daxue Shan and have secured permits for two peaks of interest. I’m just hoping for reasonable conditions to allow us to get on a nice line and maybe even do something memorable.
Speaking of progress, while making the last batch of new harnesses, I patterned a new, bilateral pocket which runs down both thighs. They almost double a pilots ability to store bags and pads in a Covert. Also, with the two pockets packed up, the outer shell behind the chute(s) has a much cleaner look and better tension. I’m really encouraged with how nice it makes the shell look (on top of easing the pack job by a lot). You can now easily pack the harness bag on one side, most pads on the other and pack your glider bag in either the big bag behind your knees or in the hollow boot, leaving the other empty. I’m hopeful it will be a well received addition and improvement to the design.
I did manage to sneak up to Canada for a 3 day blaster to do a “warm up” climb in the alpine with Chris, my partner on the China trip. We climbed on Mt Andromeda, up a route called “Andromeda Strain”. It was a great day in the mountains and cool to move light and fast up a beautiful line in the Rockies.
Flying hang gliders and climbing in the mountains is so inspiring to me. What I learn and how each experience becomes part of me helps shape my appreciation of work, family and friends. I feel so incredibly lucky to build harnesses for happy pilots, to fly WW hang gliders and to see the world in a way that allows for cultural perspective. If your at all interested, please stay tuned. I leave on the 11th of October and will be posting updates when we are back in Chengdu and out of the mountains.