Flying in Castejon

Over Gallineo peak

Over Gallineo peak

After our bike trip around the Alps we made a detour to Spain, flying into Barcelona. We spent a few days wandering around Barcelona, gawking at Gaudi’s mad architecture. Then we drove up to Castejon de Sos, that well-known paragliding mecca.

Castejon is of course famous as a venue for the big-league competitions, but also for it’s late season flying. The Spanish side of the Pyrenees is dry and warm late into the year, allowing high flights well into September. We arrived to find the season winding down, but still not over.

Castejon is situated in a broad valley surrounded by high ridges, very close to the highest ridge of the Pyrenees range which marks the border with France. In the day it can get pretty rough but the evenings offer a long glass-off that can still lift pilots to well over 3,000m amsl. The photo here I took at about 6:30pm from about 3,300m amsl. On that flight there was lift all over the valley, including a huge convergence over the landing area which made it difficult to get down.
It wasn’t flyable every single day, though I flew on 8 days out of the 10 we were there. There were a few days when I launched at 1pm or so and immediately wished I’d stayed in town for lunch instead. I had several climbs of 6m/s in thermals with very sharp edges, and landing was always tricky in the afternoons. The evening flights were much less exciting with smooth lift of up to 3m/s. The challenge in the evenings is how to get down before it goes completely dark. I overheard quite a few one-sided radio conversations with students that went like this:

Instructor: “Make big-ears and you’ll come down.”

Student: *keeps climbing*

Instructor: “Go over there, there’s always sink over there.”

Student: *still climbing*

Castejon is definately on my ‘will return’ list.

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