|The ranges east of Kanemi-dake, from an earlier flight...|
|Topping out and eyeing the XC route to the east.|
There was some amount of wind expected, and indeed felt, but the forecast said it should weaken as one goes east (deeper into the range). Most local pilots avoid the range and just head downwind (roughly south) into some friendly flats but unfortunately this route is one-way only and dead-ends after about 25 km. I wanted a little more adventure, and it did not seem unreasonable.
|GFS forecast clearly shows wind weaker on the east side (Kanemi is circled; for scale, the arrows are about 25km apart, and wind speed is in m/s for this forecast for winds at 1000m height).|
And then suddenly, I find myself in severe sink, and so much wind that I am making very little forward progress even on full bar. Convinced it's a local thing, I press on, and a few minutes later I'm hitting roughage and still not making progress. Another minute and I'm having trouble keeping the glider open over my head. Obviously no more bar! But I still think I might make it out if I follow the ridge slope. Another minute and a cravat later, that's out of the question. I spy a tiny clearing in the slope, turn tail and actually nail it - a minor miracle and dangerous too in that washing-machine air. I land on an old forest road, a space just beg enough to lay out a wing. But the wing keeps going and gets caught in a scrubby mess of vines overhead. Happy to be alive, I'm not too upset to call it a day and spend the next three hours cutting down small trees and branches with a handsaw, then picking a mess of twisted vines out of my lines. Too bad I was not in a mood to take some pictures, though, to give an idea of what a mess it really was. At least it was a good upper-body workout!