Originally posted on Instragram.
I couldn't decide whether or not to share this, but I felt that social is so full of the good life and my profile has been no different, sharing just the highlights, the good experiences. I didn't want to pretend this didn't happen and felt it important to share as it might help others who have had a similar experience.
I have been so keen to fly XC and a week ago on Monday was no different. I took off from Forclaz (Annecy) with Laurie and started to climb. We then jumped over the back ridge and continued on our flight. It was a northerly meteo wind and somewhat turbulent. But nothing we hadn't flown in before. As we pushed on we arrived above a ridge, chose to go on the left side as the right would have been in the lee.
As we pushed further the ridge became a little bowl. A bowl that was producing minimal lift, but still lift. I was soaring in 0.7m/s to -0.3m/s there was just enough lift for it to be worthwhile. We had also decided that if it didn't work we would land in the field below. So there was no pressure. Laurie managed to climb 50m higher than me, I was scratching close to the mountain trying to get the lift coming from the rocks. I then changed my soaring pattern and for 2 beats was pushing further into the bowl as I could see the air rushing up and figured it would produce lift.
On the third beat of this as I made my turn I got a full frontal collapse, I was facing away from the mountain, and the moment I thought it recovered I then had a left asymmetric, this turned me directly towards the mountain. Once I had control of the wing I was too low to turn away, I tried to turn left but knew I wouldn't make it. Ahead was a tall pine tree and to its right a smaller light green tree. I realised I was going to hit it.
Just before impact I applied break in an attempt to slow down, the canopy caught the top of the tree and I swung underneath, landing on the steep mountain and perched in amongst the low branches.
In a state of shock I did a quick self assessment. I seemed to be OK. I had hit my head but didn’t lose consciousness. Afraid to move and with me head feeling fuzzy I stayed put. Reached for my radio to tell Laurie I thought I was OK.
What felt like 5 minutes later (I found out it was about 30) a French man came up to see if I was OK, he had called the helicopter as soon as he saw me come down. Again in what felt like 20 minutes later (infact an hour) I heard the helicopter in the air. Before I knew it I was whisked away to hospital for a check over.
Amazingly I was fine, I was so incredibly lucky and am so grateful to the air ambulance for getting me off the mountain, the French man for racing up the mountain to find out if I was OK and Laurie for being on the radio, slope landing and remaining so calm through out.