Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

August 7, 2015

Red Bull X-Alps 2015: Day 7

It was clear on the hike up this morning that we were in the Dolomites.  Those jagged peaks could belong anywhere else in the Alps.   The plan for the day was to get to the turn point high on the mountain, to fly down as quickly as we could.   From there it would be another short hike up to a midday launch where hopefully we could fly into Switzerland.

The plan went well for the first part.  It was another steep climb up to the Turnpoint, but not nearly as hard as the day before.  Plus the scenery was really amazing and that tended to help distract me.  I even found myself running a few steps along the trail.  I was jealous of the hikers carrying via ferrata gear, though...wishing I could be doing that along the race as well.  I guess I want it all!

The Turnpoint was deep into a bowl in the Brenta.  Sunshine was creeping up the north faces at 9 am when we arrived, but launch was still in shadow.  It was tempting to think of waiting an hour or two to climb out from there, but....instead we launched and flew down, back to Madonna de Campiglio as the Turpoint was sort of an out-and-back.

I was pleased to get a nibble of a thermal already, but most just a nice glide back into town.  We didn't get as far as we hoped, though, and our LZ's were really limited.  Unfortunately the good ones would have required going backward from our destination.  With tired legs it was difficult to think about that.  Stephan put it down ahead of me in a square I couldn't think of landing in.  I made a few half-hearted circles in lift but it was just too early.  By then I was sweeping over town and my best option, of worse ones, was putting it down on the main road through town!  Luckily there was a break in traffic, whew.

Still the race was on to pack up and get up to the next launch.  Winds were forecast to increase with the day so we needed to make headway west while we could. A tram from Madonna went up to a nice launch (with windsocks even...a luxury).  Stephan and I, still together, walked up what seemed like a short walk after the last couple of days.  We even made time to take a dip in a very cold lake along the way.  It was worth it as the heat was getting insufferable.

Jarek and Stephan's supporter Konstantin were waiting on launch to fly with us.  Conditions were about perfect so we didn't waste time.   It was surprisingly hard to climb out, so Stephan and I were able to get up together, while Jarek and Konstantin lagged behind.  While they were supposed to lead us out, we didn't need to wait for them either!   What followed was an absolutely amazing flight along high mountains, glaciers, blue lakes, and wispy clouds.

The clouds were starting from the ground, flowing up in nebulous columns all around us.  We were able to surf the edges and have a very nice flight to Tonale pass.

Then the west wind kicked in.  It was blowing hard enough we sank low by the pass and almost landed.  It was a struggle climbing back out, and for hours, it seemed we tried to make headway but got no where.  With the direct line leading west, I found there was nothing to do but land in the valley and hope for a better flight the next day.

Of course to get to another launch, I needed to hike back up, and do it quickly.   No time to waste as I needed to get all the way back up to 2000 meters that night to find a camp spot for the morning.  While my supporters had a nice dinner, I was getting lost in the deep, steep woods near nightfall.  Eventually I made it up to what was the nicest camp spot of the race.

Early morning start
A trail crack on the way up to Turnpoint 5 
Still a little snow...the first I've seen on foot along the route.  

An iconic location for Turnpoint 5
My LZ...really!
Cooling off enroute to the second launch
Flying over glaciers on a stellar day

Left outside in the cold...or should I say...heat?

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