Friday, July 17, 2009

Final preparations

I had a couple days to get everything ready for the kids and Penny. It was about time to see them again. Thursday morning they arrived on time and a different adventure has begun. It took the kids a couple days to get adjusted to the time change. Good x-alps training... waking up at 2:00 am, singing, playing and going for early walks (with the kids). We spend 5 days in Kempten and now we are in Fuschel am See at a camp site. Thanks to Oma and Opa to help out with the kids. They will look after them while we are in the race. Right now we are in the middle of briefings and final preparations for the race. You can find more updates and sign our guestbook at

Max, Penny, Katia and Erik

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gross Glockner and Watzmann

After I left Sillian, I drove the Gross Glockner Road to Zell am See. 28 Euro's to drive the pass - that's crazy! I drove to the little lakes east of the Gross Glockner which, if taking this route would bring us through the turning point. The weather, bad already, got worse, and with the low cloud, there was no sign of the Gross Glockner. Once I got to Zell am See, I drove to Kaprun and checked out the west side of the Gross Glockner. While asking for directions at a restaurant I met Michael (working for a company building cable lifts across valley's). Michael offered me to drive up to the dammed lakes, and minutes later we drove through a "private" 7 km long tunnel up to the lakes. From the lakes you can hike over to the Weiss See and then fly down to "Kals am Gross Glockner". Going this way will get through the turn point, but although it is shorter, it is very alpine and not along a road, allowing very few landing options.
After this little adventure I headed back to Saalfelden via Zell am See. Here, I received a SMS from Michael Pohl (Team Nova Pilot) stating that he would meet me at 8:45 at the train station in Lienz to go flying. So I turned around and drove back to Lienz, but this time via the "Tauern" tunnel.
I got up early (5:00 am) in the morning and decided to drive into "Kals am Gross Glockner to check out the area where you would come out from the Weiss See. This area looks great with a lot of landing possibilities if needed. Also once you get out and land in the valley, there are are great hiking trails across the next range down to Sillian.
8:45 Saturday morning I met Michael and we decided to take a taxi up to the Hochstein. The weather indicated that we would probably just have a glide down into the valley, so instead of rushing we enjoyed coffee and cake and chatting at the Hochstein hut. After this we hiked about 30 minutes to the Hochstein summit. While we took our time, we could see that the sky was trying to open up. After about another 90 minutes the sky was was only about 40% overcast and the sun could do her job. We launched to the north-west (due the main wind direction) and climbed up to 2800 meters resulting in a little cross-country flight of about 25 km to to Sillian. This was a great flight, nice thermals and good fun. Michael tried to fly back but got stopped by the rain which had been following us on our flight. From Sillian I took the train going back to Lienz and joined Michael for supper. We evaluated our flight and discussed our options for this area in the X-Alps. Thanks again to Michael for spending the whole day with me.

On Saturday evening last week, I headed to Zell am See via the Tauern tunnel. I camped in Zell am see and drove the next morning to Koenigs See to check out the Watzman area. It started to rain and I checked in at the closest campground to the Koenigs See. I asked a couple questions and within 5 minutes Alois arrived and greeted me with my full name. I looked at him and wondered from where and how I would know him. A lot of people do know my first name but not my first and last name. Well, it turned out that he is a huge Xalps fan and he knows everything about everything and everyone.
The day was still early and I decided to hike into the Wimbachtal and up to the See Horn. This 24 km long and 1500 meter elevation proved to be an option for the Xalps if the weather allows to fly somewhat.
I got back late to the campground, showered, and had a couple beers with Alois and Richard, also a huge Xalps fan. Wow, I got treated like a king, and was given an incredible rate for staying, eating, drinking (more then I wanted) at his brother in law's campground. The next day started with light rain and escalated into a lot of rain. I then packed up and drove to Fuschel am see to meet Nick Warren from Zoom productions. Then continued on right away to Aschau to see Till (Team Nova Pilot) to pick up his Garmin 60CX which includes all the hiking and topographical maps from the xalps tour. This is awesome and will make it easier to navigate rather than always trying to find the right trail over the mountians. I would also like to thank Garmin again for lending me the Garmin Nuvi for the supporter van and a Orgegon to see the topographical maps as well. I am sure, if I would not have used the Garmin GPS for driving and hiking, I would have had a lot of frustrating moments to navigatge throught the alps all by my self. This tool will also be a great asset for Penny during the race.
After the visit with Till I rushed to Kempten (my home town) as I knew I will have Internet access for my Monday evening conference call.
The next couple of days is to get ready with the appartment and the arrival of Penny and the kids. Can't wait to see them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Dolomite's

Monday morning in Flims. The signs in the sky indicated another no fly day due over development. The campground I stayed at had wireless Internet and I thought it might be a good idea to cleaned up the van and wash my cloth. After this, I headed back through Davos, Fluele Pass, and the Ofen Pass to Bozano. Time was running out and I had to find a place with Internet by 9:00 pm for our Monday conference call. As mentioned before, in Italy it is kind of hopeless to find a WiFi Internet connection so I headed to Sillian (Austria). There I found a place and stayed at parking lot overnight.
Next morning driving through the town I saw some wind flags of different paragliding manufactures and pulled in. In this parking lot I met Lloyed (from Australia) and his supporter Lewis getting ready for the day. After talking to them we decided to hike up to Sillianer Hütte (1400 elevation hike) and fly from there to Sexten and then hike from there to the 3 Zinnen Hütte (1100 meter elevation hike). On the way up we must have missed a sign and ended up on a dead end. Here it goes again, making your own trail. Anyhow we found the trail and when we got up it started to rain. So we had a soup and after the rain stopped and we where able to take off and glide down to Sexten. For our Canadian paragliding friends, Sexten is the home town from Hugo Tschurtschentaler who lives now in Golden running a B&B with his wife and doing Tandem flights from Mount 7.
Lloyed could not do the hike up to the 3 Zinnen as he has some problems with his calf and needs some rest. So I hiked up with his supper Lewis and we had a great view to the huge rock faces the Dolomite's offer. The best part, besides the huge rock faces, was to see that there are plenty of landing sites up at 2300 meters once you fly in from from the Sillian Huette into the Dolimite's. From the Sillian Huette it rather looks like flying into a ocean huge towering rocks and nothing to land after or within the rocks. Now with this hike things look completely different.
In the evening we drove back to Sillian to the "BlueSky" shop.
This is an amazing place with a lot of happy and friendly people. Susan and Stefan certainly do a very good job to make you feel welcome. I certainly recommend to stop by at their shop before you head into the Dolomite's or when you are flying in the Pustertal. They pretty much carrey all kinds of gliders to test fly and buy and offer a huge stock on harnesses and other flying gear. Besides coffee, beer, a huge amount of information they also offer repair services. Lloyed, Lewis and I gives them a big thumb up. Check out their website at Thanks again Stefan and Susanne for your hospitality and keep up the good work.

Wednesday morning we drove into the Dolomites via Toblach to Lake Misurina. This is the other side of the 3 Zinnen and from there you can fly and head to the Marmolada via Cortina. From Cortina there are 2 passed you can drive to the Marmalada, one is the Passo di Falzarego and the other is Giau Pass. The Giau Pass is smaller and is the pass you would fly through to the Marmolada. We drove over the Passo di Falzarego to check out this area and from there I headed to the Marmolada.
I got there at 4:00 pm and I decided to do a fast hike up to the 3343 meter summit. I was lucky and could catch a kind of chair-lift (but you have to stand in) up to 2600 meters and from there I hiked over the glacier, a rock face (100 meter elevation secured by steel ropes) and the rest over the glacier again to the summit. It was fantastic and I was rewarded with great views and surrounded by thunderstorms. I only stayed up for 5 minutes and was getting down as fast as possible as I did not want to be coughed in one of the storms. 7:30 I was back down in valley and met up with Lloyed and Lewis. We then drove to Bozano to check out the site Alex Hofer flew the "South Route". It was a very interesting trip with several options. Thanks to Markus from the Roen Stube, we got all the information we needed. Markus even drove up Lloyed to the take off site to go for a flight. I hiked up and watched them take off just before the thunder storm moved in. Lloyed and Lewis just made it down in time and we headed back to Sillian.
I drove back via the Marmalada over the Giau Pass and it really showed very clear how to fly the route.
Today I hiked up about 400 meters from Sillian to have a little flight and then I will head to the Gross Glockner.