Mt Blanc Toplandings 2011

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An amazing flight to the top of Europe!

When I started to fly at the end of 2003, I read about the toplanding on the Mt Blanc that
had been achieved for the first time that year. I was amazed and ever since I dreamt of
doing the same.  In 2008 it was repeated, and I missed the chance. Last Sunday,
August 21. 2011 Damien de Baenst and Tom Payne had alerted me, that there could
be a chance to reach the top.  My great thanks to them again!

                                   e and my Gin Boomerang 8 over Mt. Blanc  (Photo: Damien de Baenst)

Most pilots who had the same goal started in Champex in Switzerland, because there
is a no-fly restricted airspace on the French side of the Mont-Blanc in the summer.
But because I had another dream of surrounding the massif in one flight, I thought:
"Hey, why not combine the 2 goals? Start in Cham and go around the block with a
brief stop at the top!" ;-)     And this is how it went:   

     -> When you click on the pictures that pop-up you get an even larger version!

I started with 2 friends from Cham, but they returned soon, so I flew alone to the "Col de la Forclaz"
It is in this panorama all the way on the left:


We had south wind, that caused an ugly lee between the Col de la Balme and the Forclaz. This was
already the one moment on the flight when I thought - "Oh oh, better check for a landing place..."
But it went well and I made it around the corner: Champex comes into sight.  My third goal was to
 try and catch up with Damien and the others that had taken off there.  Lets see what we can do...


From a distance I saw a large group of pilots at the Pt Col Ferret. When I came closer I could not see
them any more, so I assumed they had all made it over the pass. I was happy that the south wind
could not be that strong there then, which I had feared.   I came to the pass with not that much extra
altitude, and then saw where the others had gone: They had landed below the pass and walked on
a trail with their gliders bunched up ;-)   So I stepped into the speed-bar a little more and just made
it across that pass:

Above the Glacier Geant with a tandem that was also going in my direction...  The Mt Blanc from the east
Below the Brenva Glacier and then: The Mont Blanc from the West in all its beauty, and there is already
a tiny dot who has just climbed up to the top: Alain Zoller was the first to reach the summit!


And a moment after I reached the top, Damien also came out of nowhere and climbed up to me:
We've been doing these "in-flight meetings" for the last 4 flights now, taking off from different places! ;-)

I thought for some time if I should topland, but then I preferred to not have my track log split and just did
some very close flights over the snow, almost touching it. Here are some pics of the others on the top,
and on the 3rd picture you can see myself, photographed by Eric (see link to his photos at the end)


Later I soared up as high as I could: 5078m at the max - I was getting a little dizzy and had to breathe
quite hard: When you are living at 500m the rapid change to 5000m is a bit harsh ;-)


Two last looks back on that amazing mountain, and then a straight flight as far towards the car as possible..


What an amazing peak, what an amazing place to live! :-)


PS: The XC-Magazine liked my pictures and used 2 of them for their article in their magazine #137: