Annecy! I had heard the stories from friends back in Voss but I didn’t really get it until we arrived! We had arranged our first AirBnB of the trip and had booked for 2 days sharing a little house with a lovely French family in Les Clefs (about 25min from Talloires and the Annecy take offs). We arrived late and settled down to bed in anticipation of the next days flying.
The next day after the ritual coffee, we made our way to the Planfait take off where Jon and Suss tried out the early thermals (warm air bubbles). When we arrived for the first flight their were a handful of pilots on take off, mostly students and beginners. Both Suss and Jon were wearing big smiles after their first flights in the sunny conditions.
Arriving at take off for their second flight the number of pilots had tripled and they had to line up to use the take off. The warmer conditions meant that people were soaring along the wall in front of the launch and it was getting a rather “busy” in the air. They both had a fantastic soaring flight! Jon landed complaining of too much traffic and suffering from road rage (people not respecting the flight rules in the sky).
As we approached the take off again a little after midday it was obvious that it was CROWDED. There were dozens of pilots in the air. Different wings, skill levels and flightplans causing a chaotic myriad of wings flying backwards and forwards in a small area. The number of “almost collisions” I saw in the 5 minutes after take off was astounding and it was a miracle nobody was hurt.
After waiting in line to launch, dodging all the clueless pilots in front of launch I managed to climb above launch on the small thermals and make my way to the main face of the Pointe Centrale. From there I traversed across to Col des Fretes and finally over to La Tournette. The view was incredible to say the least. I then toplanded Col de la Forclaz to take a break. After chatting with the locals for a bit I flew back to the Planfait and down to the landing to meet the others. Not an epic cross country flight I was hoping for but a lot of fun considering the time of year, the traffic and the conditions. We celebrated the successful flying day with fondue and a few beers in Annecy. Unnaturally full of cheese we waddled back to Les Clefs to stomach rolling night of sleep.
The next day was raining so we decided to explore the centre of Annecy, eat some churros and feed the ducks. From there we decided to camp out at the take off and managed to catch a beautiful sunset. The next day was again bad weather so we decided to move on to Chamonix.
We spent the next half of the day hanging out in the mountainous ski resort of Chamonix which sits right beside Mont Blanc. An old speedriding friend joined us for burgers an then we set up a rainy camp next to the resident donkey.
The next morning it was an early start in order to make the long drive south to warmer weather…..