In Cross Country 232 (August 2022) Adrien Colombié shares his story of being caught out by the Martigny valley wind – a notorious pinch point in the Alps where the wind accelerates.
Here are some top tips on what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
- Try landing up high, and avoid descending into the valley bottom, where the wind will be stronger
- If it looks like you are going to sink into the valley wind on a crossing, then it’s best to head upwind while you’re still high and in weaker winds at altitude
- Try to avoid constrictions in the valley, where the wind will accelerate as it blows through. Think about where the airflow will be fastest and slowest, and try to position yourself so you will land in the widest part of the valley
- If the valley is broad, land in the middle, away from the sides which might be turbulent
- Look out for obstacles upwind which can generate turbulence behind them
- Make sure you set up at the front of your chosen landing so you can reverse into it by doing S-turns that allow the wind to push you back. Avoid doing 360s as you may go back a lot further than you expect
- If you think you might be dragged, as a last resort aim for soft bushes so you’ll be stopped
- Get your legs down and don’t panic. Stay focused and remember to breathe.
- Fly actively all the way to the ground and be prepared to kill the wing as soon as you land. Don’t flare!
- Instead, use the risers to pull down the wing after landing, or steer it to one side and collapse it (reverse cobra). Run towards and/or behind the glider to de-power it
- And finally, if you do have to choose between electricity pylons/cables, trees or water, go for the trees and hang on
- After you have landed, let people know where you are and, if needed, what they can do to help.