October in Billing, north India, sees hundreds of pilots converge on the small Tibetan refugee village of Bir to take advantage of the superb flying weather that sets up here each season.
Accessible, adventurous and hugely exciting, flying here for many is a once in a lifetime experience and they return satisfied simply to have had the privilege of flying the classic route, along the main range to Dharamsala and back.
Some however take it further.
Last year Alexey Druzhinin did just that when he set off for the wild semi-arid mountains and valleys of Lahaul and Spiti.
I soared 20km to the pass and cleared it with a bang and jump at 5,400m. The growing wet clouds were left behind. Below me now were just sharp rocks and lots of snow. There were yellow-red mountains ahead, the clouds were not so thick, and the air was dryer. I’d done it, “I’m in Spiti!”
Flying at up to 7,000m over eight days, sleeping out as temperatures plunged to -18C and covering distances of up to 100km a day he completed a 400+km circuit that took him from Bir all the way around the Great Himalayan National Park, towards the Tibetan Plateau and back again.
The full story about Alexey’s incredible flight is in issue 149 of Cross Country magazine, out now.
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