Another task has been set, the intention to synergize upon that which has been taught thus far. But before any flying can occur, laundry awaits.
With everything washed and hung to dry, I grab my flying kit and head out. Just shy of 0900 hrs I spot Marko’s truck and hop in. The daily flying routine on replay.
Not long after 1000 hrs we arrive at the El Penon launch site. The crowd has grown significantly since the beginning of the week. Word has it that the surge in pilot count is due to the arrival of a sizeable Norwegian contingent on tour. More thermal markers.
Paying the group little heed, I pull out my wing, sort lines, and hook everything up. Laying the balled up wing + harness at the back of launch, I set about programming into the vario the way points I had written down the night before in class.
Launch->Diente (the s/w point at the end of the plateau upon which Crazy Thermal resides)->La Pila (on the flats to the s/w of Diente)-> Penitas (behind launch to the north east)->Sacamacate->Cerro Gordo->Valle.
Meanwhile the gaggle establishes itself out front.
Airborne and embarking on the days task.
The flight to Crazy and subsequently Diente are a non issue. Marko makes the call to have us turn around at this point and abandon La Pila due to uncooperative conditions – the atmosphere has become increasingly stable over the last few days. Climbs are fewer and further between. We risk bombing out if we push out on the flats this early. We could go into a holding pattern at Crazy, hoping for conditions to improve. But we are burning daylight and there are several turn points left to tag.
Next up is Penitas. But to get there we need to head back and climb out over launch. The air around launch can be turbulent around noon, by this point in the afternoon it can be a proper rodeo. I admit that some of the roughest sub 1.0 m/s climbs one could possibly find will be around El Penon launch mid afternoon.
3000 m. Over the back we proceed to Penitas. We are told to keep an eye out for the horseshoe shaped stable, it can be a good thermal trigger. Once in the valley we fan out instinctively, hoping to maximize the chance of finding a climb that will allow us to bench up to Sacamacate. I manage to climb enough to jump into the next valley north, only to have it shade over with convergence clouds. The combination of shade shutting down thermic activity and the convergence forming around me makes for some of smoothest climbs I have chanced upon since arriving. The climb rate is too slow to keep up with the rest of the crew, but in all honesty I am quite content to just boat around waiting until word is given that people are ready to be collected.
Back to Valle we venture, classroom bound.