Winter Vol Biv

So it’s still a bit early for thinking about thermic flights, even though here and there in the right place and at the right time we are starting to get the odd sneaky climb but I decided it was time for an adventure seeing as the last time I got out was before lock down. This along with the looming threat of another surge of Covid it was time to head out. I had started packing my stuff and had just popped around to Pete’s place to borrow a power bank when an emergency announcement from Aunt Cindy and Cuzzy Ash told us that the rona is back and the country is moving back up the alert levels. This cemented my decision to make a dash for the hills for a bit of adventure time.

So the plan was to take the gondola up Coronet and glide out the back aiming for Roses Saddle, if I made it to the saddle in good time I’d re fly and try and get to the next hut (Highland Creek) and the next day carry on to Wanaka. I was confident that even if I didn’t get any climbs I would be able to make Wanaka in 2 days.

Unfortunately the news of the new cases forced me to change plans, firstly Coronet Peak decided to close for the day so they could walk around the base building scratching their heads trying to decide how to separate all the Jerry’s. This would mean that I’d have to hike up instead of taking the gondy, no biggie, just meant i had to start an hour earlier and had a bit of a hike first. Secondly I was now concerned about how I’d get back from Wanaka, so turns out Pandemics aren’t the best for hitch hiking, so I decided an out and return. This would be way more difficult with the Thursday forecast of stronger SW winds so I’d be fighting back into a head wind rather than running to Wanaka with the wind behind me. Ah well, challenge set.

I’d decided to stay in the hut so no tent this trip, making the bag at least a kilo lighter.

Bag came to 20kg with 2 litres of water

Kit List + Review

Flying Equipment
  • Glider: Aspen 6 28
  • Harness Ozium 2 with the foam back protector removed
  • Charley double capped round rescue
  • Advance lightpack 2 90 liter backpack
  • Helmet
  • Black diamond expedition mitts
  • XC Tracer GPS Mini III (vario)
  • Merino T Shirt
  • Spare t shirt, boxers and socks.
  • Polyester hoodie
  • Thinner down jacket
  • Big down jacket
  • Soft shell winter pants
  • Beanie
  • UL Poncho
  • Back country meal freeze dried, cottage pie x1
  • Broccoli head x1
  • Mandarins x 5
  • Apples x 4
  • Cookies granola x 5
  • Sour Squirms x1
  • Honey Roasted Peanuts 150g
  • Oats sachets x 2
  • Mi Goreng instant noodles x 1
  • Coffee instant 30g
  • Salt
Other Gear
  • Sleeping bag, Rab 800
  • Inreach Mini
  • 10,000 MaH + 2,000 MaH power banks
  • Stove (UL 30g)
  • Gas small, half used 110g.
  • Titanium mug, 80g. (Toaks)
  • Water filter and plastic bottle (Sawyer squeeze)
  • Pocket Knife
  • Spoon
  • Hiking poles (Leki’s)
  • Camelback (2 Litre)
  • UL towel

So I think the only thing that I forgot was some toilet paper, which I realise before I stopped at the petrol station and managed to swipe a handful of serviettes. Other than that there wasn’t anything that i was missing.

Food: I was happy with the quantity of food I took as I was actively trying to eat a lot as it was a hiking dominant trip. the food left over was an apple, 50g of peanuts the Instant noodles and 1 packet of oats. So I ate most of it and there was enough food left over to see me through about another 12 hours just incase, better to have too much than not enough. If I want to go lighter I could take less fresh food but seeing as I had no tent and the bag wasn’t horrendously heavy I decided to take fresh. The backcountry meal was awful, I tried putting the broccoli in it but that was a mistake I should’ve just eaten that separately. Shame I have so many of those meals as I feel I need to eat them. Next time I go for a 1 nighter I won’t bother with the stove and hot meals, I’d happily just take some sandwiches and do without that gear just to be a bit lighter. But seeing as it was winter i was happy to have a hot meal and a hot coffee in the morning.

Clothes: Spot on, I’d just take another merino T shirt instead of the synthetic 2nd.

Water filter: I didn’t use it, there was streams to drink from and the water bottle I took wasn’t compatible because it had gaps in the thread so it was useless anyway.

Power Bank: 10,000 MaH would’ve been enough, didn’t need the smaller one.

UL Towel: Didn’t use.

UL Poncho: Didn’t use, but forecast was some rain so didn’t regret taking it.


Forecast was good, light winds Wednesday with clear skies and slight potential for instability below 5000ft. Thursday was forecast light SW but nothing horrendous, actually the southerly came stronger than expected in the end there was thick mid-high level cloud forecast that actually cleared by 1pm and there was just cumulus at around 7000ft.


Wednesday Route

So after hiking up coronet because the gondola was shut I took off and flew down the ridge in the direction of Mailings Peak, I barely got a squeak out of the vario (as expected in mid August) and ended up just punting it across the valley and slope landing the other side.

Gliding from Coro Summit to Mailings Peak
Walking up Mailings Peak

I slope landed and walked up to the top of mailings peak, then flew in the direction of Roses Saddle, I got a wee climb on the way that only really got me as high as launch a couple hundred meters out from take off. The glide was good and got me just south of the saddle landing near the track. It was about an hour’s hike to the top of the saddle.

The wind was lightly coming over the saddle from the north, I was expecting it to be soarable of the sunnier northern slopes of the saddle and when I arrived it nearly was. It was windy enough for me to slightly maintain for about 10 minutes before having a relaxing glide down to the hut.

The glide down to the hut over the track I’d be walking back up the next day.

I managed to land right next to the hut, then I packed up, made some dinner and read the intentions book before getting an early night!

The next morning I walked up to the snowy northern tip of Soho, the plan was to fly along the ridge and try to slope land before one of the main spurs the run out to the west, then hike up and over it to re fly in the direction of Arrowtown/Big Hill. The wind was coming from the SW and was stronger than expected. So ended up having a fairly turbulent landing further N than I actually wanted.

First hike 2nd day.
Glide further S on soho, stronger S wind than expected.

So I siddled around the spur and then re launched and made an attempt at Big Hill but it was strong outh in QT so ended up parked in the Arrow River valley in hard sink, I eventually landed almost parked facing uphill. The I had a couple hours hike down the 4×4 track back to Arrowtown (familiar track for me). Then I went to the Fork and Tap for a couple pints of real ale with James who afterwards kindly drove me back to my car on Coronet!

Gliding along Soho towards Big Hill

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