South Side of the Point Of The Mountain. I can't actually remember when I was there last, which is silly considering it's a great paragliding resource for me. However, it will be a very familiar sight (and site) in my training leading up to the X-Alps, for a lot of reasons. It's a 200 foot high hill that most people love to soar in the mornings, and it's taught a countless number of new pilots how to fly.
In the winter, with a gentle south wind it can be flyable all day, which is was happened this week. Jim happened to drive by and saw a few wings in the air, so we quickly grabbed our stuff and got out there at 3 in the afternoon. It was a warm winter day and although I hadn't done any top landings for a while, it is like riding a bicycle. So I set out to see how many I could do before the wind died off!
Conditions were perfect, light and floaty and just enough to keep me in the air but I could land anywhere. Sidehill, top, it didn't matter. I was flying an Ozone Octane, not because I wanted to do Acro but because it's a solid wing that can take a beating on the gravel at South Side. It doesn't kite that well but it surely likes to fly, and I was able to do foot sliders for hundreds of feet along the side of the hill. As the wind got lighter I side-hill landed and ran back up the hill while still flying my wing...anything to keep flying rather than landing at the bottom.
I was just able to get my goal of 50 flights in before the wind gave up, and it felt really good to be able to jump out and do something like that. With a little more time, maybe I'll try for 100, but my real goal is the site record, set by paragliding legend Ken Hudonjorgensen. In one day, he was able to do 333 top landings. That's more flights than most people get in a year, or maybe a lifetime!
South Side will be great prep for me, not just for top landings, but for top- to-bottom hiking laps. That will give me plenty of chances to hike up, unpack my gear, enjoy the 30 second flight to the bottom, then pack up and do it all over again. This will help me really dial in my gear choices and know how to pack it fast and furious for the race!