Thursday, November 3, 2011

xAlps 2011 Presentation with Andy Froetscher (Italy) and Max & Penny (Canada) in Munich

Thanks for everyone of who could make it for the presentation. I got told there where about 160 people in the room and it seamed no one was bored with our plus 2 hour presentation. Andy and I had a ton of fun and even learned more about the race while doing the presentation. After all, what really counts to have a great time with your loved once, friends, learn more and pass on the positive energy. Thanks again for everyone to make this such a great event.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

xAlps 2011 Presentation with Andy Froetscher (Italy) and Max & Penny (Canada) in Munich

October 25th 2011 at 20:00 Uhr
xAlps 2011 Presentation with Andy Froetscher (Italy) and Max & Penny (Canada) in Munich

For the Paragliding Club "Bodenlosen" in Munich we will do a presentation about the 2011 race together
More details at 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flying over the castles and the Dolomite's Tour - part 2

Day 6:
Intro and briefing at in Sillian in the morning. The German intro and weather forecast was very detailed and the guests were informed of details with a lot of graphs. The Canadian intro version was "Sunny and Hot" and watch out to not get blisters on your ass from flying too much.
With that, we headed to Monte Piano and set a task to fly from Monte Piano to the 3 Zinnen, via Cortina to Arabba and land right at the hotel Olympia. I think this is about a 40 km flight and right though the middle of the Dolomite's. The conditions started weak and with a lot of east wind. 2 hours later, the thermals got stronger and blocked the wind. After launch, there were some nice, but not strong enough thermals to get over to the 3 Zinnen. Being patient, and on my second attempt to cross over, I reached the 3 Zinnen at half the summit height. To get higher, you needed to scratch close into the towers of the 3 Zinnen and I have to say it was very spectacular watching the rock climbers on the walls and slowly "thermalling" to pass them on the wall, and eventually reach the summits of the the "the 3 summits". Once I was about 300 meters over the summit, I headed south and fueled up more height over various exposed summits before crossing over to Mount Christallo. Mount Christallo worked very well and at 3300 meters I crossed over Cortina and scratched along the west side of Cortina but barely crossed a low ridge over to the foot of theTofane. I was very low and was close to landing at the gravel field below the massive 1100 meter rock face of the Tofane and literly at my landing approach my vario started to beep and I could do one figure eight along the gravel, gaining about 20 meters. From then on I kept scratching and slowly worked myself up this massive and never ending wall right to the summit. I have to say that this was my most rewarding flight I have ever done. Just amazing to soar so close in absolute gentle lift up to the summit along such a massive rock face. Once I got about 300 meters above the summit things got a bit rough with the east wind kicking in, but I continued my flight to Arabba and landed right at the hotel. After I landed, Frank called me on the radio to say he already had a couple beers ordered. He had the same experience as I had on the Tofane and agreed that this was the absolute highlight. The only part Frank missed was the 3 Zinnen as he was to eager to get the beer first. The rest of the group landed either at the regular landing site and 3 others landed in Cortina. Our 2 non-pilots had a great day hiking around the 3 Zinnen and Kari discovered the mountain named after her family name "Paterno". Very cool as well.

Day 7: 
Sunny and hot. So we headed to Col Rodella and after watching some crazy take offs on the east side we started flying later on the SW side of the mountain. The conditions were superb and I had an amazing flight over the Lang Kofel, the Sella, the Marmolada, again along the Sella to the east and back to Arabba to the hotel again. Everyone had great and safe flights and the non-pilots were hiking on top of the Col Rodello.

Day 8: 
Sunny and hot again. The thermals were a bit weaker, but we flew the same route as the previous day. Our 2 non Pilots did a great hike from the top of Sass Pordoi.

Day 9:
Sunny and hot again. This time we decided to take the Gondola up to the Sass Pordoi to enjoy an amazing view of the Dolomite's. After that we headed to Col Rodella again and once again we flew all over the place, including the Marmolada. Our 2 non-pilots headed for an overnight trip to Venice and had an amazing time.

Day 10: 
Guess what.... yes, Suny and hot again. This time we parked on top of the Passo Pordoi and hiked for about 45 minutes to the Belvedere. Most people flew to the landing site and then up again to the Col Rodella for further flights. I launched later from Belvedere and did my usual round over the Marmolada and back to the hotel.

Day 11:   
This was our last day. After checking out of the hotel, we drove back to Monte Piano to fly over the 3 Zinnen again. The conditions looked a bit weak, but we set the task to fly over the 3 Zinnen, over to Sexton and then to the office in Sillian. The conditions turned from weak to amazing again and everyone flew over the 3 Zinnen. Most of the group landed in Sexten and Cyril, Wendelin and myself managed to get to Sillian.

What an amazing week in the Dolomite's. Every day we were able to have incredible flights and flew all over the place! I even had a double bonus, as I was able to hike every morning to the Sella rock face, with Wendelin (best BlueSky guide), before we started the tour.  It was a great morning flight along the rock-face and we landed right at the hotel. The pictures below will tell more than my words.

Day 12:
Back in Germany and the weather was sunny and hot. We visited the "Free Flight" at Tegelberg. The "Free Flight" was not as good as we hoped for and a lot of manufactures did not attend. We still had a great time getting a couple more flights in, and enjoyed the beer tent. One thing I was very impressed with at the show was the Atos with all the different motorized versions.

Day 13:
Some morning flights from Buchenberg and then on our way to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The Oktoberfest is so huge and the grounds are massive. It was wild how many people were there, but we only managed to see the first 50 meters of the grounds as we got sidetracked with the partying and dancing in the Paulaner Beer tent.

Day 14: 
Sunny and hot and lots of traffic to the Munich airport.
Wow what a couple of weeks this was. Simply amazing and almost unreal for both pilots and non pilots. I think we will offer a package like that for next year again. Let us know who might be interested to join us next year.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Flying over the castles and the Dolomite's Tour - part 1

This years "Flying over the castles and the Dolomite's" tour needs to be written up in 2 parts as there was so much happening and too much to write in one blog. Although, I could just do a very short version and simply say .... awesome, awesome, awesome, flying every day!! The only hard part was the blisters we got on our behind from flying too much.

Here is how it started:
Day 1:
I picked up Frank, Tracye, Mike, Dave, Chris and Karie at the airport in Munich. First we headed to Kempten to have coffee and Oma's homemade Zwetschgen Datscahi with my Mom and Dad.
The weather was sunny and hot and we still had enough time to head to Tegelberg to fly over the Schloss Neuschwanstein. Everyone had a great flight and I did a tandem with Erik.
Tracye, Karie and Katia had a nice walk and found a hidden hut where we ended up for a beer after the flight.

Day 2:  
Winds were light and forecast was sunny & hot again. This time we headed to Breitenberg. Conditions were light but a couple of us managed to get up below cloud base over Ruine Eisenberg and flew down the ridge towards Fuessen and back crossing the valley across Pfronten and back to the landing site.
On the way to the Schloss Neuschwanstein to drop off Chris, Karie, Tracey and Dave for their castle tour, we stopped at a BBQ chicken and haxen trailer. We had spare rips and "Schweins Haxen". Man that was good and a lot of food. After we dropped them off at the castle, Frank, Mike and I headed to Tegelberg for another flight. Mike and I hiked up via the "Gelbe Wand" which was not a good idea with a very full stomach. The flight was great and rewarding and we all met down at the hut for beer again.
Penny was flying with us at Breitenberg, but had to head home to get the kids from school. Thanks for the train network here in Europe, Penny could walk from the landing site to the train station to get back to Kempten.

Day 3:
The forecast was sunny and hot with a low cloud base in Germany, so we drove 25 minutes to Hahnenkamm by Reutte. The thermals started week, but we got some great flights right (up to 2.5 hours) right to cloud base and into the Tanheimmer tal and back. After some good bratwurst, beer and schnaps we headed to the Neunerkoepfle im Tanheimer tal. The gondala was already clsoed and we headed via the Oberjoch pass to Sonthofen for Coffee and beer. After this we picked up Penny from Kempten and drove to the Sudhaus for dinner. The Sudhaus is a micro brewery with a rustic restaurant for local food. The evening went from a dinner to a singing party with another group. Too bad I did not video the songs everyone was singing.

Day 4:
All of us, as well as the  kids, started the day with a visit the Viehscheid in Heubach.

After the Viehscheid we drove to Neunerkoepfle for another great flight. There were a lot of pilots and almost  too busy, but the conditions were great and I did a 1.5 hour tandem with Katia.
After the flying, I dropped off the group in Fuessen where they had a great italian Dinner an we headed back to Kempten.

Day 5: 
There was a concert with 100 Alphorn's on top of Breitenberg. After the concert I did a 1 hour tandem with Erik over Ruine Eisenberg and another tandem with Katia. The conditions were way better then we anticipated.
See the video Mike did of the Alphorns.

Later this afternoon we drove 3.5 hours to Sillian to get ready for the Dolomite tour.
Part 2 of the blog will be about the Dolomite's

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying in Slovenia at the "Serial Cup"

Bion 37 - flying with the kidsAfter the xAlps we spent some quality time with the family and bought a new Bion 37 (Tandem from Nova). The kids love it and I am very impressed with the handling and performance. After a couple flights with the kids (and Penny flying beside us) we headed down south to Tolmin, Slovenia for the "Serial Cup".  I normally do not fly competitions at all, but this was a great opportunity to combine a couple things at once, such as meeting Brigitta & Dushan, getting to go to Slovenia and meet other new people.
The campground Gabrje (at Gabrje) is new and has it's own landing site and is beside the river (Soca) and below Mrzli.vrh (1306 m high peak). The river is cold, but the kids and Penny didn't seem to mind, and with such hot days, they were in it every day! Mrzli.vhr is a great mountain to start the day, and there is nothing better to start it with a 1100 meter hike ending at a huge grass field to enjoy the 1st flight of the day. I was lucky with the weather and time to be able to hike it 3 mornings. One morning,  Dusan and Idris ( from the UK) joined me, which made this even a better experience.
The comp was very well organized and it is very different and pretty cool to have everything organized for you.
Photo by Hans ter Maat This starts with:
when to get up,
when to get into the bus,
where to fly and when to launch.
And to top it off, you fly with a lot of very nice people showing you where it works or not.
looking down to TolminThe only problem I had was that I enjoyed flying way too much and it took me a while to get into the racing grove. At this cup there where a lot of pretty serious people and in a very short time it was very easy to get behind. First I felt a bit ashamed to be on the slow end but realized pretty quickly that only 1/3 of the pilots were flying up to DHV 2 wings. Now I fly the Mentor2, which is a great and fun wing, but  when you race mostly on speed-bar beside the other DHV2 and 2-3 wings, you can see the difference. I was much slower. After I talked to a lot of the other pilots racing very seriously about the flights, such as the Adriatic cost line, and certain peaks and other landmarks, I realized that most did not see and experience the flight like I did. Most of them could tell me how beautiful it was before the race started and after that they only saw their instruments and the other pilots, and did not even look around to enjoy the beauty and scenery away and beyond. Well, I guess that is what a race is all about. I think if you have flown here (or anywhere) a couple times, it is easier to get into this "race" mode.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this "organized x-country flying" where you do not need to think about the weather forecast, where to go, how to get back and you meet and party with a lot of new people.
The meet was great, we could fly every day, the organizers and campground staff were great and the rest of the family had a blast as well. Penny would have liked to have flown more, but she did manage to get a few in. We will be back when we are in Europe again.
After the meet we headed down south to Rovinj (Croatia) to spend a couple days at the Adriatic sea on the beach. It was like a different world and just fantastic. Rovinj is a must see town and we really loved to walk through the little streets and checking out the little stores and buildings. When we were heading back to Germany, we agreed to come back again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

xAlps 2011

Katia and ErikThe hardest part during the race was being away from the kids. Since we arrived back in Germany, we have spent a lot of time at the local beach, found some time to relax, as well as enjoyed a couple of hike & fly trips. Next week we get a new tandem wing (Bion from Nova) and most of the flights will be with the kids again. They can't wait as they haven't flown for a while. To the race itself, it was an amazing experience. Yes, the weather was not good at all and we had a bad start. Right from the beginning we were behind a day, which was hard to catch up unles you managed a tricky and risky flight. Martin Muller, who was behind with us, pulled off an amazing flight, and he managed to get back in the lead group. In total we flew 414 km, hiked 714 km and hiked 55 km in altitude. Without taking a lot of risk, we managed to finish 14th. By the end, we still had healthy feet, our legs were in good shape, we were still feeling strong, and we had had lots of fun, made a lot of new friends, learned a lot of lessons and gained some incredible experiences. The most amazing part of the race is the mind over matter game. There are so many mental aspects you need to deal with, such as the bad start, competing with the last group in the race not to be eliminated, hiking for endless hours in rain and snow, hiking up high mountins and dealing with the 50/50 chance to fly and keeping a pace you can handle for at least 2 weeks. The weather was one part what made the race harder, and the route turned ot to be way harder then expected. The Dachstein turnpoint was way harder then anticipated. If it could have been flown, it still was hard due the restricted airspaces (this is where Ogi got disqualified and 5 others had 24 hour penalties). No one could fly around the turnpoint and everyone had to deal with crazy and difficult hikes. The big difference in routes was the option of taking the longer way in distance and an easier via ferrata (climbing routes) or the shorter distance with a very difficult and power drainging via ferrata (Simone Scharte). We (Matin from Argentinia and me) got up to the turnpoint late and decided to stay up on the glacier with the hope to get to fly off in the early morning. 5:00 am, the wind was only about 25-35 km/h, but the valley botton was coverd in fog and we had to wait. Once the valley fog lifted we had about 70-80 km/hr winds. So we ended up climbing down Takeoff under the Dachsteinabout 800 meters the via ferrata and ended up taking off below the gondola cables. This flight was unexpectedly incredibly smooth and it was fantastic to soar up the Dachstein rock faces and heading more west along other peaks. I had to cross a valley to the south and I got cought in the stronger Foehn (Chinook) winds and was forced to land half way up the ridge I wanted to cross. I packed up fast and hiked to the top and looked for a managable takeoff site to get airborne again. The takeoff was in very strong winds going up and down , forward and backwards between trees until I managed to get out to more open space. The flight ended up further than expeceted and I decided to hike up another 600 meters to get another 8 km covered in the air instead of walking. After this flight, we ended up walking and hiking in the rain and on the way to the top of the Gross Glockner pass I met up with Andy Froetscher (Italy). The weather got worse and we ended up in 15 cm new snow on the trails. After we crossed the "Hochtor" at our break we decided to call the race doctor as Penny's knee started to look worse. The doctor sent her right away to the Lienz hospital to get it checked out. The doctor in Lienz diagnosed the knee as a sports injury (even though the x-rays showed nothing!) A couple days later, her whole leg was swollen, and she was forced to go to the hospital in Bruneck, where they treated her for a bad infection caused from a bug bite. Penny was put on penny at her officeantibiotics and later in the race the race doctor drained out the infected liquids from her knee. At this point, Penny was beside herself thinking that she might have to quit the race. She could not walk. We lucked out that I stayed at a hut that night, and Penny could keep her leg up down in the valley, and the next day once I had landed, the rain started and she didn't have to walk with me on the road, so she got a little bit of a break. We had to make a decision about whether we could go on like this, as she couldn't hike with all my additional gear and food up the mountains, which is her "main" job!! The antibiotics kicked in though, and although her knee was not "normal", she was back to hiking and in better spirits. Today Penny is all back to normal and keeps her running a bit on the easy side.   Anyhow, after the "Hochtor" Andy and I hiked towards Kals and stayed overnight on the Glorer Hut. Staying on the hut was the right choice, we got some great food and had a bed for a good rest. The next day we mananged to fly down to Kals in the early morning. The flight was great, but the landing in the Kals valley was rather challanging due the strong north winds. After talking to some weather guys we decided to hike up over 1000 meters for a flight into the Defreggen tal and then to Toblach (valley before the Dolomites). This decision was not easy as the winds at the landing site peaked at over 60 km/hours. Sure enough, once we were up, the winds were only around 15-25 km/hr. Andy and I got some good launches and thermaled right up to 2600 meters. Crossing the Matrai valley into the Defereggen valley was not a problem. The problem was the it started to overcast fast and shutting down the thermals. I decided to ridge soar into the valley as far as I could and started to hike to Maria Hilf to cross the next mountain ridge by foot. Andy was a bit more patient and could fly half way up the pass. After I hiked up the pass, the weather cleared and I was able to fly into the next valley finding some great thermals bringing me up to 2700 meters. I tried to fly accross the next ridge but had to land into the upper slopes and hiked up higher to get airborne again to fly to Toblach. From Toblach I hiked to the bottom to the Drei Zinnen, where we met Andy Froetscher again and stayed overnight. 3 ZinnenThe next morning we hiked up to the Drei Zinnen turnpoint. Andy decided to fly off and sunk out near the Misurina lake. I decided to pack up and hike more into the wind and flew back the route we hiked up. I decided not to fly out to Toblach as I decided to walk towards Cortina and hike accross the Dolomites to Brixen. On the way to Fanes de Sennes I stayed on the "Sennes" hut for a great meal and a good nights rest. Penny had to go back down and drive around the mountain to where I hoped to land the next morning. The next morning ended up to be a race from the fog and low clouds. I managed to get airborne from a 2600m high alpine launchsite resulting into a dream like flight between clouds and fog part way up to the Würzjoch pass. Hiking past the pass was in pouring rain. Just before Brixen we managed to get a another short flight in down the valley from where we reached Feldthurns in a couple of hours. Max in the snowThe next day we opted to hike up to the "Klausen" hut and hoped to fly down the other side. I ended up in a snow storm and on the other side they even had to shut down the gondolas due the strong winds. Once down, I had not choice to hike up the other side to Meran 2000, the weather got nice but we had at least 80 km/hr Foehn winds resulting and a hike down to Meran. Andy (Italy) Steve (GBR1) Richard (Braz), Oriol (ESP) and I all met up at Mutkopf (Meran) to fly into to the Stilfzer Joch. Amazing that after 8 days, we were all there together, and Martin (Argentina) was not far behind. We had a great flight around a lot of clouds and it seamed that my Mentor2 (DHV 1-2 wing) could perfrom very well with the 2-3 rated wings. I ended flying the furthest with Richard and Oriol. We packed up and rushed up to 3100 m to get airborne again to keep on flying to Piz Palue. The flight was awesome and we could thermal out a couple more times until the overcast shut us down. From there we hiked to the Pass da Val Viola where we stayed overnight. The next day we hiked south of the PizPalue into the turn point radius and flew down to Lago di Poschiavo. From there we kept on hiking to Sondrio. The weather forcast was very wet for the next day so we decided to split from Richard and kept on walking until 11:00 pm. The next morning the forecast was still calling for rain and we started to walk fast and strong to Como Lake. During the morning the weather looked better then forcasted and everyone seamed to hike up for a flight. It turned out they could not pass me due the weather conditions and I managed to hike another 2000 meter up to Pass de Jorio. We were luckey enough to get to a take off site from where we could launch at 8:30 pm and fly towards Biasca. Too bad I could not take off any earlier as I had to spiral down over 800 meters to land 2 minutes before the 9:00 pm night time flying restriction. I kept on hiking until 11:00 pm and layed down beside the road in my paraglider for a nap. Penny still had to hike down the mountain and then drive around the mountain, around a lake, through a couple of valleys, only to to get me at 2:15 am to the spot I was sleeping. She got me up to sleep in the van, and then we were up again an hour later to get ready for a 4:00 am hike to Biasca and then 2000 meters up for another flight. Penny managed again to hike with me. Once I got to the top the wind was from behind (north/east) and it was not easy to take off into the wrong direction. If I would sink out, i would have to do a lot of hiking to get back on track. I was able to scratch my way north and on the end of the ridge to find a thermal from where I managed to cross the ridge and fly towards Airiolo. This all was very tiring and I could feel how I started to fall into some short naps during the flight. Gladly the flight was ending soon and I could rest a bit. While I walked towards Ariolo, I started to get hallucinations and realized that I was simply too tired to proceed. I tried to call Penny, but her phone was not working and I had to keep on going which was not a good experiance at all. Once I met up with Penny, we both had a nap for 40 minutes and things got better. That night, I was able to hike halof way up to Nufenen Pass. After 3.5 hours of solid sleep I hiked up to the top of Nufenen Pass and after a couple launching attempts (wind from behind) I managed to fly down to the Wallis. I had to land before the restricted airspace and hiked passed the controll zone and hiked up again over 1000 meters for a take off spot. We took it easy as I was pretty tired from the day before. This was just perfect in timing as the conditions turned on later that day from where I managed to fly almost down to Visp. I had to land short of Visp due very strong valley winds, but this flight saved me from a 35 km walk. Robert,Andy, Penny, MaxIn the mean time Andy Froetscher (Italy) was working hard to catch me. He seemed to always be about 10 km behind me for the last 3 days and tried several moves to catch up. At the last flight the valley winds got very strong and I managed to fly 5 km further then Andy to the next ridge where I could climb up high and was able again to be ahead of him. It might have been the timing that I flew further, but I think part of it is the Mentor2. The glide is amazing, but more so I stayed in full speed bar even if it got rough and when the wing collapsed I just got off the bar for a short moment. Now most 2-3 wings would fly faster but in rough conditions most can not use the extra speed they have. During the whole race I was very pleased with my wing, which allowed me to take off and land in very challenging terrain. After the flight I headed up to the Matterhorn turn-point with Andy following behind me. Just before 11:00 pm I called Andy and told him that I would like to finish the race with him and share the 14th position unless the conditions were flyable, then we would fly for the 14th position. Andy was all for it, the next day was completely overcast, we called Christoph (race director) and told him our plans and met up at the Matterhorn turn-point. Penny was prepared like always and hiked up with some cold beer for the finish. What a way to finish - way better than running a couple km ahead just to claim one better spot. Sharing an accomplishment is more rewarding especially when you raced so many days together. Penny, Max, Andy, RobertAfter the finish we had a long shower at the campground and headed to Monaco for the party. It was great to meet with the others and to share the stories. Stories and experiences seem to be the most important part, more so than the ranking. This also got confirmed at the awards by Hannes Arch. This is also what we could hear from so many other people who followed the race for these 2 weeks. They got addicted to the online "Live Tracking", photos and videos. Overall a great experience and entertainment for everyone. I would like to mention a couple thank you's to the people and companies who made this all possible: Nova Wings and team for the tips and the Mentor2 Andreas Boehl and Flight design for the use of the CT to check out the route and the for giving me weather updates. Oma & Opa to watch the kids for the 2 weeks. Hannes Arch and Ulrich Grill for putting on the event, and to their whole team The Columbia Valley businesses and friends who donated services and products for the fundraiser (see details at And to all our friends and family who have given us so much support

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Photos of the preparations just before the race

Once we got the van set up, we drove to Innsbruck to get the Mentor2 light and from there to Fuschel am See to get ready for the race. Every team has to be there from July 13th on for meetings, orientations, press conference and some photo and tv shooting.

Enjoy the slideshow below

Current updates of the race at

I wish I had some more time to update more of the last couple of days. We are very busy with the program, last minute preparations and the kids.

We are missing the kids already. Thanks again for Opa and Oma to look after them while we are gone.

You can get daily updates in text, photo and video about and off us at

Thanks for all your cheers and support.

Max, Penny, Katia and Erik

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The clock is ticking ...

Erik and Katia flying to MunichWe are getting closer and closer to the race start.
The last couple of weeks have passed very fast with all the action.

First of all, I am very happy to have my family back. Penny, Katia and Erik came last week and things have been even busier than before. (no surprise though) .

To go back a couple weeks....After I completed the flights with the CT  (, I traveled to Innsbruck to get my wing for the race.
The wing was a proto Factor2 which was has never been flown before.  After my first flight, we decided to let Pipo (Nova Test Pilot) fly the wing as well to get his comments and feedback. It turned out the large Factor2 was by no means ready yet. They needed to do some changes within the canopy and as well as it needing to be trimmed.  Time is running out, so Nova and I have decided that Nova build a Mentor2 in a light version. I am glad we did that instead of trying to finish the large Factor2, as it is already so late in getting the wing before the race start. Believe it or not, I still do not have it, but will pick up the wing on our way to Salzburg tomorrow.
Just to clarify,  the Factor2 in small and medium sizes are finished and certified, and the large is just about there as well. I flew with Steve Nash (Team UK) for one week and he is very happy with his small Factor2.

For the past couple of weeks, Nova gave me a large Mentor2 demo wing, in order for me to get used to the wing. After Insnsbruck, I headed to Silian to meet up with my friends Stefan, Susanne and Wendelin at They are such super people and so friendly, and I only can recommend to stop by their store/school when you are going to the Dolomite's. Wendelin has competed for several years in the Dolomite Man competition, and seeing him a couple of weeks ago, gave me a great opportunity to discuss with him route details.
While staying at,  I met Richard Pethigal (Team Brazil) and we both hiked and checked out the route from the Tre Cime to Meran. The weather was not good at all and I headed back to Germany as it was time I put a couple of solid days of work in.

Max and SteveNot long after, I met with Steve Nash (Team UK) in Innsbruck. I traveled there by train and we continued to Meran to check out the route from Meran to PizPalue. We did it by train so we could move forward without having to worry about the car. The weather was only semi good for 2 days and the rest of the week we had some rain and the north Foehn.  The first day we hiked up in the Meran area and stayed in a hut. The day after, we flew for about 20 km in  north wind conditions (not the best for this area). We ended up on the Stilfzer Joch (second highest paved pass in the Alps at 2770m) via train and bus. The next day we hiked up to 3000m to find a great launch site. We managed to get off around 11:00 am and flew west of Bormio. The winds got stronger and we were not able to fly the route we planned. After landing and on our way to Livigno a local pilot convinced us to go up again for another flight and it turned out to be very mellow this time, but still not bringing us there where we wanted to go.
Later that day we headed to Livigno and the day after to the Piz Palue turn point. The "north" route was actually more challenging, as we thought it would be. It is the shortest way, but certainly not the easiest due the high mountain passes.

Max sleeping in Mentor2From Piz Palue we headed to St. Moritz and explored the route from there to Bellinzona, which included a great hike in the rain over a high pass. The weather did not look very promising and we decided to take the train to Locarno and then further west to Santa Maria Maggiore to see how the route would look heading direct to the Monte Rosa area and then over the high glacier pass, which Maurer took 2 years ago. This is for sure the shortest way, but for sure a very difficult stretch to fly around the no-fly zone and with a narrow valley below.

After that experience we headed back to Bellinzona and with no accommodation to be found, we ended up staying overnight beside the bike storage area of the youth hostel, which was also booked up. We stayed overnight x-alps style, sleeping in my wing.

The day after we headed up to the Sankt Gotthard pass without any flights as the north foehn was just too much. The weather did not look too promising to keep on going, so we took the train to Kempten (Germany) and we managed to get a great hike and flight the next day at Tegelberg flying over the Neuschwanstein Castle before Steve had to head back to the UK.

Penny hikingSince then I got a couple very good x-country flights with the Mentor2 before picking up Penny and the kids.

The week with the kids and Penny has been fantastic, and thanks to Oma and Opa, Penny and I have had some good times hiking and flying in the Allgauer Alps.

Now we picked up the rental car, got all the supplies organized and will be heading to Innsbruck to pick up my wing and then to Fuschel am See to camp with the kids and the grandparents. This will give us some time to explore the Salzburg to Dachstein area with hiking and flying.
Everything is coming together very nicely and our spirits are high. We are looking forward to the last week of preparations.

Max and Penny

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Checking out the the route from Monaco to the Matterhorn

xAlps mapsRain and thunderstorms everywhere. I guess we picked one of the worst weeks to check out the xAlps route from the air.
I took advantage of the weather and connected with Lloyd Pennicuik's (2009 Team Australia) friend Maria who stored all his maps at her place. Lloyd is lending us his hiking maps from the last race. Now I had some time checking out the maps and got confirmed what I could find out with Google Earth. Anyhow, the good old paper sure feels beats Google Earth on the trail, thanks Lloyed.
Evening June 9th, Andreas phones and tells me to get ready for the next morning as he thinks we have a chance to get down to Monaco and the day after we might be lucky to see more on the way back. June 10th at 7:00 am. It is miserable and raining in Kempten, Andreas phones and thinks we should wait one more hour. An hour later it is still raining and Andreas phones and asked me to come to the airport at 10:00 am. The weather is clearing in the west and south, but here it was not good at all. After Andreas phoned the airport in Konstanz to get a local weather update, they meant that you might be able to fly a circuit, he decided to go. After we where airborne we flew west in rain and min VFR and got pushed to the north due the weather and visibility.
clouded in pass At Geneva the weather got better and we were able to fly into the mountains at Albertville. From there we explored the xAlps route along Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and headed up the pass via Valloire. The top of the pass was clouded in and and we had to head back to Albertville and fly to the west and following the big range of mountains passing by Grenoble. This roue was very interesting and now flying there makes a lot of sense why Alex Hofer flew this route in 2007. If you have a NW flow and cloud-base below 2600m this is the way to go as you have a long ridge to fly along instead of crossing big valleys and climbing big clouded in passes.
Arriving in MoncaoWe flew right down to Barcelonnette and headed up the Colde la Bonette pass. From there we decided to fly back and land down in Barcelonnette to get some fuel. The airport guy was super nice and told us to fly to Gap as the fuel is way cheaper there. So we did, fueled up and flew back to Colde la Bonette pass and followed the valley down to Isolo. We did the mistake and turned into the Isolo valley as we thought that would be the way to go. Pretty soon we found out we were one valley to early. Good thing to find this all out in a motorized aircraft instead a paraglider. Even from there down to Monaco was not as obvious as you would think. I am glad we flew an extra loop around Sospel and Monaco as this all does not look as clear you would think.
Mont GrosFrom Monaco we explored the route back to Barcelonnette and stayed there over night.
The next day was blue sky and we started flying around 8:30 am and headed north from Barcelonnette to Col de Vars and then to Guillestre. From there we checked out the valley up to Briancon and then up Col du Galibier. The pass at Col Du Galibier is where we had to turn around the day before. From there we explored the Col de la Madaleine pass. From there we checked out the area going to Mt. Blanc. Mt. Blanc had a wild wave cloud on top.

Mont Blanc
Anyways, the weather was still go to check out the whole route around the Mont Blanc right to the Matterhorn. From the Matterhorn on it started to cloud in and we able to get to Furkapass and Neufenen Pass and the south was all covered in low cloud.   I was happy to get in as much as we did and we headed back to Germany which was overcast but dry.Thinking back what we have done June 3/4th and considering the weather conditions, flying the CT was absolutely outstanding. The CT from is an amazing airplane and really puts Ultralight flying into a different dimension. The speed, fuel economy, space (for 2 people) and handling is outstanding.
Thanks again Matthias and Henry to lend us your great plane for this job. We do appreciate this sponsorship a lot and will be proud to have your logo on my paraglider.
Also, I could not have done this without Andreas, as I like to mention, having  the best tools does not really mean you are the best crafts man, thanks again to Andreas Boehl ( who is not just an excellent pilot but also an amazing guy understanding the weather in the Alps.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Left Canada and now I am all over the place

Andreas Boehl and Max in the CTI left Canada on June 1st and since then I am all over the place.
The hardest part leaving Canada was the last 2 weeks in Canada as I missed the kids already then (and of course Penny as well). Now since I am here things are moving along pretty fast.
On June 3rd, I arranged my phone and Internet connection plans and headed to Krumbach to meet Andreas Boehl.  Andreas is a former Phantom fighter jet pilot and logs 3000 hours in glider flying. Andreas offered to help me out in exploring the route with the CT from
Max and the CTFor everyone who wants to get into powered flying in Germany and or is considering to buy the "best" ultralight on the market, check out his website at

The first day was very busy as we had to get the plane from Bagnang (airport near Stuttgart). We manged to get airborne from Bad Wörishofen at 6:00 pm and headed south into the Alps. We flew by the Schloss Neuschwanstein down to Innbruck and tried to get to Brixen over the Brenner Pass.

Gaisberg by Salzburg
We had to turn around at the Brenner Pass due heavy rain showers, so we headed East and found a clearing where we could cross the main ridge of the Alps to check out the area around Brixen and up to Meran. In Meran the weather was terrible again and we had to turn around to the East. This way we could checked out the route backwards from Meran to Brixen, then south of Kronnen Platz to the Drei Zinnen (xAlps turn point) and then over Sillian to Lienz. Due the weather we decided to keep on flying east to Mauterndorf as we hoped to have a better chance to fly north across the main ridge of the Alps the next day. We landed at 9:00 pm just before dark and found a nice hotel for the night. Once we arrived at the hotel, it started to rain and kept raining hard the whole night. The next morning it was still a bit of rain, ground fog and dense overcast, not looking promising to get north over the main crest of the Alps. A local pilot told us about a pass where is always a approx. 50 m clearance to get to the north side or the Alps. We decided to give it a try and sure enough after circling up a valley between clouds we found the passage to bring us to the north side of the Alps.

The weather was good on the north side and we headed to the west and flew up to the Grossglockner. We where able to fly right up the Grossglockner pass but then the clouds stopped us to check out the higher elevations. From there we turned around and flew to the Dachstein Glacier (2nd turn point) and then to Salzburg and checked out the Gaisberg (first turn point of the xAlps). To get a better idea of the route, we flew from there again to the Dachstein and to the Grossglockner. It was well worth doing it and I got a much better idea about the route then just checking it out via Google Earth.  From the Grossglockner we headed over Kufstein direct to Bad Wörishofen (Germany). The flight for this day was 3.5 hours.

The amazing part is, that we only burned about 72 liters of fuel for 6.5 hours (both days) of flying and flew an average of about 170 km/h (top 200km/h). Again, flying the CT is not the same you would think about flying an Ultralight, this plane outperforms a small Cessna, way more fuel efficient and you can fly through some pretty wild weather.

The next couple days I spend in Germany and I started to get back into my training routine. The first day I did a 4 hour climb up the "Gelbe Wand" via the new Klettersteig up to the Tegelberg. Wow, that was way more challenging then I expected. The climb itself took me just over an hour.

The day after I hiked from Immenstadt to Mittag, Steineberg and Stuiben (about 20 km) and ended up in a huge thunderstorm. The lightening show was fantastic and I was glad that we where not flying at all.

Today I hiked up Gruenten and had a fantastic view of the Allgaeur Alps right down to the Bodensee.

Tomorrows weather forecast looks promising as the thunderstorms are moving east and we have a chance to fly to Switzerland and then to France. Lets hope the weather will cooperate.


Monday, May 30, 2011

flying in the Rockies

Max flying in the rockies
We still had a lot of snow in May. The weather was very unstable and had very strong conditions. I got a couple nice flights in which was great to get used the new "Advance Lightness" harness. It took me a while to get it set up right. Flying with it is very comfortable and it took a couple flights to get used to it. I am very happy with it and the combination with the backpack is a very good combination.

Overall training went very well and adding the Invermere Fitness Centre aerobic and yoga sessions rounded up the whole training. Penny is in a very good shape as well.
Last weekend she did a 25 km trail run at Nippika and she came in 4th overall and 2nd in her age group. That is very good considering she run 27 km as she got lost in the first 10 km.

Last week I did the mistake by overstretching my back which resulted into some muscle spasm which forced me to slow down for half a week. Noting was lost in this week as I spend more time with Google maps to study the route.

launch in hip deep snowNow I am getting ready to pack up my stuff as I will fly to Munich in a couple of days. Penny and the kids will follow June 29th and I miss them already.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Copper Point Resort is sponsoring Team Canada

Copper Point Resort Invermere

What a surprise.... Copper Point Resort had its first opening day on Friday May 27th and gave us a $2000 check to support Team Canada for the We flew with BobbyJo (Marketing and Sales Manager) off Mt. Swansea and landed right beside the resort where we received the cheque. Pretty cool, would love to do more tandem flights like that!
While we packed up we also had the chance to greet the first hotel guest checking in.
Landing with BobbyJo at Copperside Golf courseOnce you get into the area, check out the new resort, which is amazing and impressive, or check out their website at,.
Thanks again Copper Point Resort, we do appreciate it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What a great party and fundraiser we had

Thanks to everyone who donated items for the silent auction and to all our great friends who came to the party.
Wow, that was a great one. We had about 150 people show up and everyone seemed to have had a blast.
On Saturday morning about 10 people hiked up Mt. Swansea (4 from the house and the rest from half way up the mountain). The flying conditions were not good at all as we had very strong SE gusting winds. No problem though, we just had a reason to start the party earlier as planned, and all of us had a nice hike down together.
Thanks again to Frank and Tracye for hosting the party at their house., and welcoming so many people to their home. Thanks also to Brian and Judy, Tracye's parents for all their help and hard work throughout the day and the evening, and to Brad for keeping the barbecuing going, and to Sarah for all her hard work with the silent auction. The best babysitter for the kids was the bouncy castle which Frank and Tracye organized. And a big thanks to Cheri for face-painting so many excited kids. The faces were just awesome.  Also a huge thanks to everyone else who helped out to make the whole day such a great experience.

The party (BBQ and Silent auction) brought in just over $7000.00, which is amazing and a huge wow. We knew before applying how much money this race would cost us (about $20.000), but it is amazing how much support we received from the community willing and wanting to help us with our endeavour. See the list of supporters at

Check out the pictures (thanks Kathy Tam as she did most of the pictures) and everyone else who has some pictures, please load them up as well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Team Canada xAlps fundraiser party

Max & Penny with xAlps wingFrank and Tracy are hosting the
Team Canada xAlps fundraiser party
May 14th
at their house at  Lakeview Meadows.
Camping is available at Frank & Tracey's place or at our place.

BBQ, Silent auction, and jam night.
Burger & salads: $10/person (Kids: $5)
Burger, salads, keg beer (as much as you want till it's gone): $20/person

Silent auction:
Lots of great items to be auctioned.
If you have any items or services you would like to donate, please contact Penny.

Tracye organized a bouncy castle and Cherri Hann will do face painting for the kids.

Jam with Duncan McDonald.
Bring your instruments and friends who would like to jam it up. Dancing all evening too.

We will also have several harnesses set up as flight simulators, for anyone who would like to feel how it is to fly.

9:30 am pilots meet in front of Frank and Tracye's house
$10 for pilots who are hiking
$20 for pilots who want to get their wing driven up
$40 for pilots whw want to have a ride with their wing

X-country task will be assigned on launch.

Here are some photos from the 2009 fundraiser.

Hope to see you all.
Max & Penny

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter meet at Panorama

Katia and Erik at with their Panorama Paragliding trophy'sEaster is still a week away, but the Panorama Ski Resort closed on April 10 so we decided to hold our annal Easter Meet the closing weekend.
Friday was a perfect blue sky day and later in the afternoon some good flights could be logged. Trevor with did a maiden flight on his rebuild "Libelle" over the summit and between the paragliders. It was a fantastic show for everyone. When I arrived at Panorama and headed up the mountain, I watched Frank climb out and head out to the valley, and he landed at the Lakeside Pub. I got up there late and had to land at the resort, as we had another xAlps presentation for the resort in the early evening.
23 pilots showed up on Saturday, and between everyone, there were about 86 flights with lots lasting up to about 40 minutes. It was kind of high overcast and the sun was not strong enough to create the bigger thermals. It was a great day for pilots and spectators, as the sky was filled with pilots, and at the end of the day we had 8 pilots landing at the day-lodge.

On Sunday only about 7 pilots managed to get a flight in before the wing got too strong and was very cross at take-off. We wrapped up the event at noon and then enjoyed the "Slush-Cup" and some great afternoon skiing with family and friends.

One of my highlights was flying tandem with Katia and Erik. On the end, Erik and I shared 1st place for the event, as Erik dropped his easter egg from 300 feet right into the target and we ended up landing on target. Katia and I had a great flight but missed with our easter egg drop. The kids were very proud when they received their own trophies as the youngest competitors of the event.

I have put up some pictures at my picasa album, check them out and add more if you have some.
Happy landings from Erik, Katia, Penny and myself.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Training in March

Max at Silverstar
Training in March is coming along very well.
Even though spring does not seam to show any signs yet, training switched from X-country skiing to to hiking and walking.
Live and work is very busy and if I am not able to train during the day, I am spending a lot of time hiking and walking during the night hours.
I pretty much train every day to get into a routine.  Most of my training is now walking and hiking for several hours with a full backpack. The backpack makes a big difference as this will also strengthen my core and shoulders.
Most of my walks I combine with climbing stairs. We do have  a 40 meter vertical set of stairs going down to the beach  which I will do at least 3-5 times after a multi hour fast walk including all my gear.  The hikes are still in the snow and when the snow gets to soft or to icy I am wearing my snow-shoes. My plan is to do multi- hour walks/hikes for several days in a row and then train for a day or 2 in the gym.
You can see my progress on my MovesCount page or even see how I am doing compared to the other xAlper at

Monday, March 14, 2011

Penny at the cross country worlds masters in Silverstar

Penny Powers at the worlds masters
Last week we headed to Silverstar with the whole family. Unreal how much snow these guys have and how much still was coming down in the week we stayed there.
Penny participated in 3 races and had the following results
15 km classic ski, 6th overall and fastest Canadian
1o km classic ski, 8th overall and fastest Canadian
30 km classic ski, 6th overall and fastest Canadian
Way to go Penny we are all so proud of you. Considering Penny raced only a 15 km and a 30 km  in cross country ever before. Some of the worlds best coaches say "if she would now learn how to ski, she will be for sure one of the best skiers in Canada.
We had an excellent time there, we shared a suite with the Tamelin's (3 kids from 6 to 12) and the kids never had a dull moment. We spend time cross country skiing, down hill skiing, skating, toboggan, hot tubbing with rolling in the snow and tubbing. The kids loved tubbing the best.
I had enough time to get work done as we had very good internet connection and i got about 10 hours of cross country skiing in. Most of my skiing was at night and sometimes challenging due the poor visibility with all that snow.  Skiing at night for up to 2 hours with poor visibility defiantly hones your orientations skills.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Training in February

Max in training with Erik
Photo by Calum Neff

How is training going?

That is what I get asked most of the time from people meeting on the road.
All started very good except when I had a nasty cold which was affecting my lungs resulting of a no training period for about 10 days in January and February.
After the first week in February I could start in the gym and slowly get outside to hike, cross country ski, ski and walk.
Beginning of February we had same melting temperatures which got replaced soon with very cold temperatures dropping as low as -30 C and more snow. This season is a very good snow year here in the Rockies. Even today I was hiking up Mt. Swansea in a blizzard and there is no sign of spring yet.
Most of my hiking was with snow-shoes due either the sheer ice on the bottom of the mountain and the deep snow at the summit. When it got to cold I spend a lot of time in the gym to work on overall core strength.
Based on I still  logged 62 hours of training in February alone.
Suunto is behind and has sponsored 10 xAlps athletes with T6d watches, a heart rate monitor, walking pad and biking attachment to log our training.
For February I was training most hours of the athletes who logged their times, this does not mean I was working out the hardest as this is not my goal. My goal is to work out every day and slowly bring it up to a level where I can train hard for 4-6 hours a day at least 5-6 days in a row without feeling any fatigue.
Keep on checking out our xAlps MovesCount Group to see what kind of training everyone is doing. Also make sure to check out my profile often at as I can win 1000 Euro if we get most of the hits/visits until the race.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

xAlps presentations in the valley

We have been asked several times to talk and do a presentation about our experiences during the 2009 xAlps and how we are preparing for the 2011 xAlps.
A week ago we did 2 "motivational" presentations for the Windermere Valley school and are most likely going to do the same for the other schools in the valley.

We were also asked to do a presentation for the "Wild Voices" which is part of "Friends of Kootenay National Park" and "Parks Canada".
We love to support this project, and this also gives us a great opportunity to, once again, thank all the local businesses who donated services and products for our 2009 fundraiser and all the other companies who supported us with gear and equipment we used in 2009.

The Presentation is Tuesday Feb 22nd, 7:30 pm at the David Thompson Secondary School in the theater.

See you there
Max & Penny

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Paradise Ridge the easy way up.

A friend (Rob Gardner) called me and asked if I had some time to play and could take a break from training. As mentioned in the previous blog, my lungs are plugged up and I need to give them a break, so I was game for a snowmobile tour up to Paradise Ridge (2500m ASL). This ridge is across from Panorama Mountain Village (local ski hill) and offers great views down into the valley we live.
We met more guys up there on their snowmobiles going skiing and boarding the "Canadian Style" and I managed to get a great flight in even with quite some wind from behind on take off.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How is training going?

How is training going? - That is the questions I get asked the most the last couple of weeks.
Right now, I am not doing to well as I got a cold and it went right into my bronchitis. Meaning I have to slow down to give it a chance to heal. In the meantime I give Google Earth/maps quite a workout, which is as important as fitness.
In regards to fitness, Suunto sponsors 10 of the xAlps athletes a Suunto watch and heard rate monitor to log our training at Who has the most visits will get Euro 1000 from Suunto.
I will keep updating my training and I hope you keep watching my training process to count up my visits.

Happy watching/training

Follow my Moves at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Flying at our local ski hill - Panorama Mountain Resort

We had some great holidays at home and got some good skiing and flying in at Panorama Mountain Village.
The weather was great and not to cold (compared to Calgary)

NOTE, our Easter Paragliding meet will be moved to April 9 and 10 as Panorama will be closed by Easter (April 24)

The video below was done December 30th.