Sunday, 9 October 2016

Flying Canazei

A long and winding scenic road took us higher and higher, past the famous Mt. Marmalada, to village of Canazei, located in the Italian Dolomites. Not surprisingly, the higher we got, the colder it got. Colder than usual for this time of year though -- below freezing at night. 

The next morning we checked out the landing zone and drove the even steeper long and winding road up to the launch area. Although we took our gliders and we'd seen two pilots in the air earlier, we didn't hold our much hope for a flight as the winds were quite high. We were right! High winds coming from a variety of directions. But there were still two more pilots trying to launch. After a couple false starts, one of the them eventually took off a bit precariously and the other finally rosetted up his wing and made the smart decision not to fly. 

We wandered around up high for a while admiring the views. Seeing all the ski lifts almost made me want to take up downhill skiing again! We spent the afternoon in the warm hotel lobby, drinking tea and trying to catch up a bit on photos and blog posts.

The next day we took the first (8:30 am) tram of the day up to the launch. It was definitely a lesson in getting ready to go as soon as you can because you never know how quickly the conditions will change. Andrew, me and Cheryl launched first and had good launch conditions. The wind started to pick up and Mike and Guti were still able to launch but Steven and Nick did not. (Jeff and Dan weren't there as they'd gone to a nearby town to change the name on Dan's rental car so that Jeff could drop it off in a couple more days' time.)

Even with big ski gloves and dressed with every single layer of clothing we had, it was still cold! I was most thankful for the wind pants. We all did about 15 minute sled rides (albeit bumpy!) and our fingers were almost frozen by the time we landed. It was the only flight that I didn't take a single photo! I do have a bit of video so hope to share that at some point.

This was the end of the trip for Cheryl, Mike and Jeff. They stayed for another night in Canazei and Mike managed to get a second flight. The rest of us continued on the second part of the trip to Slovenia and Croatia.

For me, still being a relative beginner paragliding pilot, Canazei and the surrounding huge mountains were intimidating. I'd love to come back here and spend a few days to get more comfortable with it. As with pretty much all the sites we've been to on this trip, the views were spectacular. There's also lots of great hiking and climbing around here.

Trying to launch in high winds. The guy on the left launched and the guy on the right finally packed it in

Cold but beautiful morning frost.

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