166 miles from Nine Mile


I wrote this piece in late June of 2013



FLIGHT REPORT- 166 miles from Nine Mile to almost Hawthorne, NV


Yesterday I had my longest flight to date, launching from Nine Mile Canyon down by Kennedy Meadows, and landing 166 miles later in Nevada. The California record is at 168 miles right now; I was close! Here is how it went down-

Brad Wilson and I drove down to Nine Mile real early in the morning, so that we could get an early start. The forecast looked a little windy, but being that it was forecasted to be mostly a SW and SE wind, I figured that this tail wind would improve the groundspeed. When we arrived at our east facing launch, surprisingly it was blowing 10-12 mph from the west- shit.

We waited at the truck for twenty minutes, and slowly put our boots on and packed our bags. We were hesitating to hike up to launch, as conditions were not good by any means.  By the time we had our packs on, it had switched to a head wind- spooky but nice.

Two days before, we launched here, but it was the first time at this launch for the both of us. We did not know where launch was, and took off less than ten minutes hiking above the car. I made it 120 miles on that one, but knew I could do better. This day, we hiked the extra 20 minutes up, and found the real launch site.



Soaring out from launch-

I launched first, taking off at about 10:15 am. Brad had trouble at launch, and decided to bag it. I’d be flying alone today, like normal. Conditions were decent in the first hour or two, even though I was not getting very high. The glides were good, but the climbs were weak and far between. As I approached Mt Olancha, the WSW wind picked up. The next 40-50 miles saw me flying crooked, crabbing my way north. It was kind of funny to be pointed NW, but flying due north for almost two hours!


The wind was mostly annoying, but it actually became dangerous at Onion Valley (no surprise there, its a huge venturi from the west). I was soaring the west side of the crest as I approached Kersarge pass and University peak. My groundspeed decreased almost to walking speed, and I couldnt get past the peak staying to the west of it. I tried to soar over the top of it, but even on 100% speed bar, I got blown over the back of it and cleared the summit by about 200 ft. My plan was made on the spot, and was to fly right down the middle of the valley behind the peak, and take an SIV course en-route. Collapses, a stall, and a cravatte; then I was back headed north again.


I got right back onto the crest after Kersarge peak, as the valley venturis are not so bad once you get north of Onion Valley. The tail wind straightened out a bit, and I was hauling ass. The clouds were forming now, so I did not have to stop to thermal much for the rest of the flight. Like a magic frisbee, I just drifted north, bouncing higher under each cloud.



I had always wanted to fly the west side of the Palisades, and was lucky enough to stay on the Kings Canyon side of the range for this section of the crest. I was super deep in the backcountry, and loving it. The clouds were booming, and the tail wind was continuing to increase. My ground speed was averaging 45-55mph, and would stay that way for the rest of the flight.
I crossed over the Buttermilk Boulders on my way to Mt Tom, and was on the Wheeler Crest before I knew it. But here was the decision point- Either fight the W wind and stay on the Sierra, or take the convergence line to the Glass Mountains. The clouds were absolutely blowing up over the Glass, but it obviously seemed like the faster route north. From Lake Crowley on north, the speed bar was held at 100%, and it took everything I had to stay out of the clouds. Luckily I was high, and it was very cold, so the precip fell in the form of snow and hail- so I stayed dry.



The clouds are getting darker-


Starting to OD-


Final glide into Nevada-


Off of the north end of the Glass Mountains, a wall of OD’ing clouds was staring me in the face. I forced my way dead ahead, but it was not in the cards for me that day. The sun was blocked out, the sky was falling apart, and no lift could be found. I had given it my best, but instead of getting the wing wet, I landed on the Hawthorn highway, having flown 166 miles. The record was only two more miles, but in the end  I was happy with my route. I now feel like I can actually fly the routes that I have been dreaming of for years.


I can’t really complain about not nailing the record this day, I’ve already had four 100+ mile flights this month. The IcePeak really is the most amazing machine that I’ve ever owned, it’s almost like cheating. My flight time was only just over six and a half hours, the IP6 hauls ass!

I have to thank Tawny for putting up with me during XC season, and being me gone a lot of the time. Also a big thanks to Brad for going on these adventures with me, and chasing my ass down when I land out.

Like always, I’m looking for partners for these adventures. If you want a piece of this pie, hit me up!!



Dave Turner

Mammoth Lakes, CA