Paragliding & Hang Gliding in Golden BC Canada

2023 mid-summer flying turned out better than expected.

Paragliding over Columbia Valley

Though British Columbia experienced a record breaking wildfire season, the Golden area fared much better than most areas of the province as far as bad air quality and dense smoke were concerned. Some exceptional flights were had especially during the Willi-XC competition which ran for 9 days starting July 27th.

We started launching from the Lookout relatively early in May with the Peter Bowle Evans access road clear right to launch at the end of the first week of May. (Usually we can’t get up there until the first week of June.) It was pretty good weather & flying conditions through May, June and early July. June, usually the rainy month, was uncharhacteristically dry. Some really nice evenings were had including a couple of classic glassoffs. The main issue on the “no-fly” days usually had more to do with stronger S or SE winds and the usual June overdevelopment by noon. At the same time those southerly winds helped keep the Golden part of the Columbia Valley pretty free from the smoke orginating from districts further west. Fires started to ramp up in our area 10 days into July, notably down south in the Invermere area, Harrogate and immediately south of Mt.7 across Horse Creek on the flanks of Kapristo.

This fire situation on Kapristo totally shut down any opportunities to head downrange on what have come to be the “standard” XC routes south from Mt.7. This restriction meant that any attempts at even short XCs had to head North across the Kicking Horse River to Table Mountain and/or over to Moberly Peak and into the Blaeberry Valley.

Smokey days began to increase with the start of the Willi-XC. South routes were a no go so competitors concentrated on routes to the North. The Wednesday in the middle of the Willi was cancelled due to smoke but the days after that saw lighter smoke and some good lift conditions on North routes. These took the form of open distance, out and returns as well as triangles. One pilot pushed north to Saskatchewan River Crossing and returned in a triangle via Field BC. Another pilot flew Sask Crossing back down to Lake Louise then on to Canmore Alberta to the east. The winner of the comp actually pioneered a new triangle that pushed to Sask Crossing then west over major peaks turning somewhere in the Bush Harbour area of Kinbasket Lake then returning to Golden from the northwest via Donald, Willowbank & Moberly Peak. Others enjoyed flights to Donald, some up the Blaeberry to Mount Laussedat and the Mummery Glacier as well as turns at Mount Hedley. All in all it was a pretty good meet.

Marginal air quality persisted through to the end of August but some good flying days were had. The weather was clearer into September but things started to peter out lift wise into September with most pilots simply content to work the lift on the faces and ridges around Mount 7. It was hard to get above summit height by the end of the month. Beyond September it was basically extended sled ride flights for the diehards.

Considering it was such a bad fire year in BC, the Golden site made out pretty well.