Team Adventures

Go Deep – You Gotta Commit!

  • May 26, 2014


Preparing to Launch the V

Clark Preparing to Launch the V

Memorial Day 2014 came, and the conditions looked fabulous.  Time for an adventure with the Skywalk USA Team!  So Jonathan, Jeff, and I piled into the truck and headed to “The V”, a launch site in Centerville Utah.  The goal – fly back home to the Sandy Utah area, a straight line distance of around 30+ miles.  Kindly, Jeff’s wife offered to drop us off at launch.  Less kindly, this meant we had to fly home, or we were walking!  (Oh sure she probably would have retrieved us if needed, but where is the adventure in that story?)   Along the way was a committing jump across City Creek canyon, where a sink out would mean dodging trees, and a long walk out.  Sitting at launch with the normal pre-flight butterflies, I was thinking of the different routes I could take, and the past words of  a few respected pilot friends and mentors came to mind, “Go deep – sometimes you gotta commit!”


Clark On Glide Deep Toward City Creek

Soon after starting into the addiction sport of paragliding I found my self drawn to the mountain thermal sites.  I found my self watching the experienced pilots sky out while I would scratch around and sink out.  The unifying theme in paragliding seems to be the comradery  among pilots.  So while parawaiting, a common activity in this sport, I asked advice of those sky bound pilots.  Everyone was happy to give advise and ruminate on the many theories of how to have a successful flight.   I found  common answers.  You have to practice your skills, slowly ease into technical conditions, and learn to read the terrain so you know where the next thermal may trigger, but most important, sometimes you just have to go deep, and commit to your flight.

Jeff flying across to Olympus and heading home to Little Cottonwood

Joined by a few more pilots, we launched around 2:30 on Memorial Day, and after scratching about for a bit (I got within a few hundred feet of the LZ) we all caught strong , well put together thermals and cleared 10,000 ft.  It was time to go on glide and point toward City Creek canyon.  By the time we  neared City Creek we would need more altitude, so we decided to commit and go deep.  At one point I saw Jonathan kicking the tops of the pine trees looking for that next thermal, and I wondered if there would be some hiking for him today. Jeff and I found more lift and decided to make the jump across City Creek.  Near the top of the canyon we made the crossing on glide.  Looking for any bail out landing just in case, I was thinking that it would be a long hike out if we got stuffed here.  Out in front I watched as Jeff cleared the far side of the canyon by mere feet, however he knows his stuff, and was pointed to what looked like a sound trigger. He cleared the canyon, caught another thermal and spun his way back up to over 11,000 ft.  From there it was on to reach heights over 12,500 and on to cross Red Butte Canyon, Parley’s Canyon, Millcreek Canyon, Olympus Peak, Big Cottonwood Canyon, and on home.  Jonathan and Jeff continued over Little Cottonwood Canyon and Jeff had to bail at Granite in order to make his “barbecue.” Jonathan continued on to his home at the Point of the Mountain, setting his own personal best of around 40 miles!

Jonathan Coming up on Olympus

Jonathan Coming up on Olympus

Nothing compares to the freedom and exhilaration of looking across the Wasatch from 12,000 ft.  Like many things in life, sometimes you have to leave that comfort zone, sometimes you have to Go Deep – You Gotta Commit!