Almost Vol Biv

Vol Biv is quite appealing to me. Flying and camping all rolled into one. In theory, you just add camping gear into your harness and off you go.

The first step is simply figuring out how to get all your gear into the harness. Space is limited. I have relatively light camping gear which packs down pretty small. My paragliding gear is also relatively light though by no means ultra light. Normally my flying bag weighs about 12kg plus food/water/clothing. Swapping out a bit of foam for 3-4kg of tent/sleeping mat/sleeping bag plus a stove and food meant my bag felt heavy. It was probably pretty close to 20kg when ready to walk up a hill.

I headed to Talybont for a test run. The hour walk up was noticeably tougher with the extra weight. Space wise it was not too bad, I got everything to fit including some luxury items (a beer, an aeropress, 2 man tent). The weight of the harness with everything packed in on launch was very noticeable.

It was a very light day, with thermal cycles coming through. It was not possible to soar the ridge. Gaps between cycles were often long. Tricky conditions. My first effort ended with a slope landing. The walk back up in all my clobber carrying the wing was brutal in the heat. The second effort went better, I climbed above the ridge and started to quickly gain height. Just when I thought all was good I lost the climb and started sinking back towards the ridge. I top landed to wait the next cycle. The third effort I pushed forward to find something but ended up at the bottom pretty quickly.

I packed up and after a bite to eat and a drink I climbed back up to launch. Unfortunately my fourth effort went very much like my third. After a moment of disappointment I got myself together and headed to the stream. I found a plunge pool and went for a dip to cool off. A little sunbathing whilst sipping my beer made for a pleasant afternoon.

Before long I made the decision I might as well spend the night and use the gear having hauled it around all day. First job was refilling my hydration bladder with water. Water filters are a bit of a faff but are key to spending time outside. Next up the stove came out to boil some water for dinner.

I found a nice flat patch for the tent and got set up. You always feel more tired when out all day so it was an early night for me.

I woke up to heavy rain. It was still early so there was no rush to get up. One of the joys of a larger tent was being able to pack everything except the tent up inside the tent to avoid getting things wet. The aeropress came in handy to further enhance my leisurely start to the day. It was clearly very windy up high and there was no chance of flying. I made my way back to the car. Seeing as I was there, I figured a morning trail run was the best way to go so off I went.

With a re-work of the gear and packing I think I can make things more comfortable. So I will be trying again soon!

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