May 27, 2015

Mt Athabasca Speed Ride and Canmore Paragliding


The Alpine Artist - Jason Kruk - visited the Rockies last week for recreational pursuits that included free flight. Here Jason is seen packing his wing in the shadow of the mobile mountain pad and Ha Ling. We flew the peak for three straight days before heading to the Columbia Icefields and Mt. Athabasca for a speed lap. 

Flying paragliders is a fickle sport and flying paragliders in the mountains even more so. Last week, the elements came together and Jason and I were lucky to find ourselves on the summit of Mt Athabasca (not something I always consider lucky) with clear skies and zero wind. I have guided Mt Athabasca countless times and have always dreamt of flying from the summit. Paragliding is many things to many people, but for me, one of it's greatest appeals is flying off  big mountains.

Until recently, paragliding was illegal in Jasper National Park. Now, thanks to the hard work of numerous individuals and HPAC, free flight has come of age in the park. We opted to bring our small speed wings and I flew a 12 metre Ozone Fazer while Jason used a 13 metre ITV Pil-Pit. The flight lasted a hair under four minutes from the summit to just above the road and I chose not to play the terrain in exchange for maximizing glide.

Flying from Mt. Athabasca was the realization of a dream. Just over two years ago, I crashed hard  and spent a long time trying to recover physically. Last week was the first time since the crash that I found myself in the air without being preoccupied about impacting the ground. For a while, I almost forgot that flying could be fun. 

A short clip from our flights off Ha-Ling and Mt. Athabasca. Much nicer in HD.
                           

Nearing the top on a perfect day.


Mt Bryce from the summit.


Jason setting up with Mt. Columbia in the distance.


Immediately after launch messing with the go pro. What else is new? 


A quick fly-by of the north face before going on glide to the road.