About the Mt.7 Flying Site in Golden
Paragliders Soaring Thermals in front of the Lookout Launch on Mt.7
Those of us who regularly fly and maintain the flying site in Golden are committed to a number of goals:
- Maintaining & Improving local launches & LZ’s including the Mount 7 Lookout;
- Promoting Golden as a world class gliding and cross-country flying destination;
- Assisting visitors to enjoy the area by creating and encouraging a friendly, welcoming atmosphere around the site;
- Promoting responsible and safe use of local flying sites;
- Promoting long term, free access to the Mount 7 flying site while actively collaborating with other users to ensure responsible use and sustainability of this important public resource;
- Promoting good relations with the community, private land owners and government agencies;
- Endorsing responsible adventure tourism as a vital part of the local economy.
General Meeting Places – Visit the LZ First
One of your first stops once you arrive in Golden to go flying should be The Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch (GEAR) located in the small community of Nicholson just 5 minutes south of Golden on the west side of Highway 95 across the Columbia River. (see the map google below)
GEAR is the official LZ for flights originating from Mount 7. GEAR comprises a large property housing an RV/Tenting campground and the Muller Flight Park LZ. This is where pilots tend to congregate to arrange ride sharing up the mountain. You will also need to check in at the GEAR office to fill out and sign a waiver before you can use the LZ. Read the LZ rules and download a waiver at this link:
Reflection Lake – “Gravel Pit”
The “bird house” viewing pavilion at Reflection Lake at the foot of the Mount 7 forestry access road is another place that pilots flag down rides up the access road to the Lookout launch. The “gravel pit” across the road is sometimes used as an alternate landing zone in light winds only from S or SW. There is also a parking area and restroom facility. Mountain Bikers also use this area as there staging area. It is located on the East side of Highway 95 just as you are leaving the south end of Golden heading south. It’s the first left turn after passing the RONA Hardware Store. Click on the blue location pointers for info and/or zoom in and out of the following map to get your bearings.
Generally the season runs from late May to late October. The access road is often snowbound up until the very last week of May making the Lookout launch inaccessible by vehicle. Mid-May onwards, a low launch can be accessed by vehicle but the road is often soft and muddy (and subject to extreme damage (i.e. costs money to fix!) The low launch can be used by both hang gliders and paragliders but it is tight, steep and tricky because of possible cross-winds (e.g. NW winds) Only one glider at a time can be launched. It works best for hang gliders as there can be a lot of ground snags for paragliders and trees on both sides.
Because of high lapse rates in the spring (May-mid June), the conditions can be particularly strong in the afternoons. Temperatures at altitude can be extremely cold. June is a fairly unstable month in the mountains so there can be a lot of overdevelopment by noon. June-to July 15 can be rainy, but the weather patterns start to settle and become more reliable towards the middle of July. Mid July to Mid August is peak XC season though big cross country flights can be had earlier or later depending on weather and your tolerance for turbulence. August goes from arsekicking to glassoffs to pretty quiet, PGs float about all afternoon, HGs not much action sometimes close to September. As we move into the fall the thermals are around but generally you can’t climb very high so most flying is around Mt7. XC’s have been accomplished in late September and October but these are generally rare. This is the time of year where paragliders have a slight advantage over hang gliders in that they can hang out in fairly narrow bands of lift. Long flights (timewise) are fairly common but nobody gets above the summit much so nobody goes XC.
Golden is a thermal site, an afternoon site, and a cross-country site. 1000 fpm is quite normal, up to 2500 fpm is perfectly common. As such it should be considered an advanced site particularly in the afternoons up until about 6pm. Novices/intermediates can certainly have enjoyable flying here but they should plan to fly mornings and evenings. Early summer days are quite long at this latitude and it is not uncommon to launch at 7 or 8pm and fly for a couple of hours.
Cross country flights – to the south most common. 100 km flights relatively common. Good LZs, though there are some restrictions and rules. Locals will fill you in. Return is straightforward as there is only one highway; very basic hitch-hiking if you do not have retrieval arranged. To the north is more challenging, from route finding to LZs to what happens if it goes wrong. Days are long mid-summer – daylight 5:00 am to 11:00 pm. August closes in fast. 7:00 am to 8:00 pm by last week of August. If you are over 7 at say 9500 ft ASL in glass-off at 8:00 pm August 23, it will be DARK by the time you have struggled down to the valley bottom at 2600 ft ASL to land.
A note on safety: Golden is a Rocky Mountain Site. Terrain is rugged and the forests are thick with deadfall, undergrowth and mosquitoes(in July/August). Trees can exceed 100′ in height. The backcountry is known grizzly bear & cougar habitat. Much of the terrain is without a source of water. When you fly XC here you are flying over fairly remote terrain. Cell phone coverage is spotty and radio reception can be unreliable due to obstructions. Outlandings away from the valley floor and its associated highway can turn into life-threatening ordeals if you are not prepared. What may appear to be a fairly short jaunt to the road from the air can actually be a multi-hour hike from hell. While there are quite a few forestry roads in evidence from the air, these are not heavily traveled if there is no active logging taking place. Some roads may even be deactivated, washed out or otherwise obstructed to vehicle traffic. Please plan and use common sense in your flying activities.
For Detailed Pilot Information on Accessing & Flying Mount 7
Flying Events & Meets
Historically, both hang gliding and paragliding meets have tended to be scheduled on or around the last week of July and the first week of August. The annual flying event of the season is The Willi XC Challenge meet. Check out: www.thewillixc.com for info, dates, videos, pictures and other fun stuff.
Pilot Insurance Required
To fly the site you must be have pilot insurance.For Canadian pilots, this means full HPAC membership. For US pilots, USHGA insurance covers it, but HPAC temp membership would be better if it ever came to it. For everyone else, this means HPAC temporary, Out-of-Country membership ($15 for 3 months, and available in Golden) Visit: http://www.hpac.ca/pub/
Waivers – be prepared to be asked to read and sign one. You cannot land at the LZ (GEAR : Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch) unless you visit the office there and sign a waiver.
We have an emergency fund known as the Contingency Fund administered by Scott Watwood. It is principally set up to cover helicopter rescue costs. You can join in for $20 per season. (Know that rescue charges in BC have been from $2000 to $5000)
Donate to the Site Maintenance Fund
It costs time, money and energy to run and maintain the Mt.7 flying site. Please help out if you can. Send in a cheque today. Cheques may be made payable to: Golden Flying Site
and may be sent to the care of:
774 Barber Road,
Golden, British Columbia, Canada, V0A 1H1
Thanks for doing your part.