Friday, December 16, 2016

A typical weekend

Last weekend, we left Amakusa as we usually do in search of good flying conditions around Kyushu.  Consulting a detailed weather forecast, on Sunday, Mt. Kirikabu in the north-east corner of Kyushu looked promising, whereas on Monday it looked like one could fly from the amazing caldera rim of Mt. Aso in central Kyushu.  So that was the plan.

Part of Leanne's track from Kirikabu (knob on right side).  We practiced various return routes from Haneyama (left side).

Mini-XC with Leanne.
Great scenery at sub-freezing 1700m!
Kirikabu turned out great, with unusually thermic conditions and a relatively high ceiling of 1700m.  Leanne suddenly expressed a desire to train for vol-biv for our upcoming NZ trip so we flew back and forth between Kirikabu and the higher ridgetop of Haneyama, 4km away.  In the end we did 3 laps.  It was fun!

Kirikabu is one of the best areas in Kyushu for wintertime conditions.

We spent a frosty night camping at Kirikabu and early in the morning found us standing on the caldera rim, admiring an excellent view of Mt. Aso.  But the sky was too cloudy and no wind was forthcoming.  The wind forecast looked better at our home area of Kuratake, so we began driving homeward.  Sure enough, Kuratake was on, with a typical tricky wind-shear situation:  there was just barely enough wind to make tricky ascent from launch, but a few hundred meters higher one had to be extremely careful not to be blown back.  We flew about an hour, until it started getting dark.

Monday morning at Aso.
Driving back to Amakusa: Mt. Unzen volcano beyond Shimabara Sound tidal flats.
Ridge/wave soaring at Kuratake.  It doesn't really look windy, does it.
For good measure and training, I ran the half-marathon from the base of Kuratake to our house.  The mostly flat course took me 2 hours and 48 seconds.  I thought I was going to make the 2 hour mark but it was difficult running in the dark and cold rain that began to fall.  Better luck next time!

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