Paragliding along the Mieminger Chain, Austria
Mai 2016
A quick check of the forecast suggests that there would be a brief respite of a day or two from the unseasonable weather of late. I got myself into Austria near Innsbruck to fly the Mieminger Kette, a lesser known mountain chain just South of the Zugspitz Massiv. A brisk morning walk up from Arzkasten past the Lehnberghaus up to the Wankspitze at 2300m and I am atop the Inn valley. Not too strenuous overall, with one or two snow fields to cross but overall very manageable in just under 2h. The terrain is truly alpine. There are no lifts this side of the valley. There are no pilots, in fact no people at all except for two lone climbers.
View into the Inn valley towards Innsbruck.
It takes a while until the valley wind from Innsbruck has enough strength to start balancing the strong West wind blowing at higher altitudes. After an hour or so of waiting, I finally launch my brand-new Epsilon 8 on a steep, boulder-strewn patch twenty meters below the summit into what's now become a gentle breeze. A few minutes later, and a few hundred meters higher, I begin to see the Zugspitze and then the main chain of the Alps in the distant South. It's undescribable. Up here the air is so calm that I can take lots of pictures with my new Olympus EM-10. At last, after not having had a portable camera for years, I can keep digital memories of my flights again.
A few hundred meters above the Wankspitze.
It's a few hours of soaring and thermalling, but with a cloudbase at around 3000m, it wasn't quite enough to ride the entire chain. Still, what a fantastic playground. The great thing about hike and fly in such relatively remote areas is that you don't need to worry about air collisions with other pilots all the time. Every now and then a sailplane came past, shared my (MY!) thermal before whizzing off into the distance. Being on your own makes it harder to find the next good thermal but once you've found it, oh boy, it's so much more fun!
Other nearby sites on my hike and fly list are the Hohe Munde and the Gehrenspitze. I'll leave those for the quieter autumn months.