Flying above Fil de Cassons
Soaring above the ridge, photo courtesy Tom Payne

Last flights of the season

Yesterday was probably the last flying day of the season and what a way to end the year. A big group of us hiked up the tortuously steep trail from the Naraus lift at Flims to Fil de Cassons, a lovely gentle ridge that the forecast predicted might be soarable.

By the time I got there, people were already easily staying up and top landing on the shaly peak.

It was one of those dreamy autumn days where the world looks photoshopped, the peaks faded into silhouettes in the glow of the sahara sand that had blown in, and the orange autumn grass contrasted with the endless sky above.

We danced around one another above the ridge, 3 dimensional dodgems on the crowded windward face, then follow my leader into the weak thermals that blew in. After some play on the ridge, I managed to work a weak thermal up to 3000m and glided towards the nearby Piz Dolf and the Trinserhorn.

I worked one of the ridges for a bit, gliding meters above the snow field before climbing steeply where the wind met the vertiginous face. Another wing, which turned out to be Olli, was climbing out at the other side of the cirque, so I headed over and got above the ridge. I turned to soar up to the summit and saw Olli top landing on a tiny patch of stone by the summit cairn, with the wind fighting his wing to the mortal cliff behind him. It was a ballsy landing, and he pulled it off expertly, but I felt no desire to join him, so I circled for a bit, enjoying the spectacular view up the ridge and piecing together the jigsaw of peaks.

Olli over Trinserhorn

On a good day you could have climbed over the Surenjoch and landed in Elm, but it was too weak today, and the wind would have put the crossing in lee. So after enjoying the sky above the peak, I pushed bar and headed back to the ridge to play.

The sun was descending into the haze of the sandstorm, and the thermals were all blooming giving an early magic hour where climbing was easy. Even on full bar I barely lost altitude on the way back.

But then as the light lost it’s saturation , the lift began to die and we all got closer and closer to the ground as we fought to stay in the narrowing window of lift.

As the last wings took off from the ridge, and the lift had left us scraping above the ground, I headed down the ridge towards the cliffs of Piz Aulta, and glided gently down to Flims to land as the sun cast the valley into shadow.

Thanks to all of the great group that were there for such a fun day, and in particular, Tom for the photo, Renato for predicting the conditions and suggesting the launch, and Evgeny for driving.