7 summits by Microlight

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(UTC + 5:45)
2-1

News release: 16 May, Line break


 

 
Up at four today, in the dark, in a fog, but we set to rigging all our kit in the hope it would not be the same sort of stuff as the last two days and clear quickly. Forecast is for the upper winds to be relatively light, could this be the day?

It would have been better if I had a good night sleep, but there are three ponies on the airfield, two stallions and a mare. Normally they just wander slowly about grazing with the Yaks and Jopkyoks but the mare has obviously just come into season and the two stallions have been fighting and dashing about in a very excited way all day - and all night.

It is slightly disconcerting when there is a thunder of hooves just past your tent, but it is bright yellow so even at night one would expect they would not actually hit it. Equally, my microlight is surrounded by large pieces of wire mesh and a rope fence strung between empty 200 litre kerosine barrels. At half past one in the morning there was yet another thunder of hooves a great crashing noise in the direction of my machine followed by a sort of horse shriek. Expecting the worst, I was out of my tent in seconds, stubbed my toe hard on the rock the eagle sits on in the day and got over to my machine. I was fully expecting serious damage, then what would we do?

Astonishingly it would seem we were very lucky, the rope fence was in complete disarray and the barrels it was tied to scattered across a wide area but there wasn't even one hoof-print on the wing - it seems the pony had careered into the fence, the drums had made a terrific noise as they all fell over, the pony leapt across my wing without actually touching it, hit the fence the other side knocking over more drums but somehow didn't get tangled up in the rope, which was lucky as one end was tied to the trike....

The weather did clear as it became light, but there was a lot of stuff down the valley towards Lukla which Angelo didn't like the look of at all. I was a bit more confident and rekoned we should at least give it a go and so eventually we were off. This was the first time we had done a takeoff here fully loaded with fuel, oxygen, video & stills cameras Etc. - I had been hoping to be able to 'build up' to this with a bit more testing but fog in the last two days prevented this. Anyway, the takeoff was fine but the climb rate was not really as good as we have experienced at this height in the past and it was as rough as anything.

Our strategy is to gain a lot of height overhead here, at least 5000 ft, before heading for Everest, it's only 29 Km away. I circled towards places where I thought there might be more lift than sink but it was all just a mish-mash of turbulence. Eventually about 10 minutes after takeoff I watched Angelo wizz upwards in my mirror, the rope went slack (looking at the video later - very slack....)_and then the weak safety link his end broke when it snapped tight again. We both returned to Syangboche.

So what to do next? Syangboche is more or less at the confluence of two big valleys, the Khumbu valley and the one leading up to Gokyo. We both think that the early morning katabatic winds down both valleys are causing the turbulence here and that it should be possible to get above it. The trick is to find a place where it is relatively calm and there's more lift than sink. The second issue is low cloud. We have been very unfortunate with the weather, I suspect a lot of the Everest climbing expeditions have too, Barty who has been here several times both before and after the monsoon says he has never seen it so cloudy, normally it is completely clear with maybe a bit of cloud in late afternoon. When we landed this morning some cloud had moved up the valley, it was mostly clear at Syangboche but not all the time. Had we been away for 2 1/2 hours as planned we would have been able to land, but it could as easily have gone the other way....

Notwithstanding the turbulence we encountered this morning which wasn't bad in pure microlighting terms but did make towing difficult, I think we have both decided that whatever happens we need better weather than we had today. There is a tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal forecast to pour humid air in our direction all next week which is not what we want - and the monsoon is approaching... Things are not looking good at the moment, but who knows - tomorrow may be the perfect day...

ALPHA emergency parachute
 
 
The FIAT group
 
 
ICARO 2000 Hang Gliding World Champion
 
 
THE NORTH FACE clothing for extreme conditions
 
 
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
 
 
PEGASUS AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
MAINAIR SPORTS  manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
AdventureWeather.com providing Meteorological information to the expedition
 
 
Lyndhurst Touchdown Services.  Supplier of fuel system components to the expedition.
 
 
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines
 
 
BAILEY AVIATION manufacturers of Paramotors and automotive sport acessories
 
 
Neltec flexible heaters
 
 
Industrial Pressure Testing Ltd; Suppliers of Oxygen cylinders to the expedition.
 
 
PARAMINA; Suppliers of Oxygen equipment to the expedition
 
 
Mainair Sports; UK dealer for Warp Drive Propellors
 
 
O-ZEE flight suits.  Suppliers of Bar-mitts to the expedition.
 
 
Gerbings heated clothing
 
 
FLYCOM Intercom and Radio equipment
 
 
Quatar airways
 
 
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17 May 2004
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