Rimrock Ramble by Ron Clark

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Following is the story of another of Ron’s pioneering flights in the Cascades.  This is so far the best soaring flight in 2016 in Region 8; it is also by far the best soaring flight from the west side of the Cascades.  Btw, Tieton airfield at Rimrock Lake is the highest airfield in Washington State with close to 3000 ft elevation.                                                        

- Editor


Rimrock Ramble by Ron Clark

Tuesday May 10th was another case of getting lucky in regards to weather.  My favorite way of determining the proper conditions to fly is to first assess tow pilot/plane availability. Does the weather look likely to offer some sort of cross country flying?  Those two are usually enough.

Phil yanked me up into the air where I could now see the great clouds farther east into the Cascades.  I informed those back on the ground waiting for their turn that it looked good ahead and released over Frailey Mountain.  I followed a well trodden path over Higgins Mountain to North Mountain, aiming for the black basalt thumb of Whitechuck Mountain.  

ronstrack-221x145.JPGtieton_airfield-400x225.jpgIt was easy progress to a turnpoint at the Nason Creek Rest Area, turning south with my sights set on Mt. Stuart.  I was hoping to intercept Brad here but I was too far SE to get a lock on him.  I made it to the Stuart Range and crossed (barely) at Argonaut Mountain.  This was starting to get exciting now.  The clouds ahead looked fantastic, so I charged on, steering a course south using Mt. Adams for a landmark.  Landing fields were getting scarce, and I knew from last year's trip to Hood River that it only became worse between Rimrock lake and Mt. Adams.  Getting a little lower crossing the valley at Cle Elum, I headed for the higher ridges near Manastash Ridge and found a good climb to 10,000 ft.  I headed for Rimrock Lake and Tieton State airfield and enjoyed the unique “old cowboy movie” geologic features of the area.  I decided that a picture of the airport from above was extremely important, so I dove over the rim and lost altitude while trying to manipulate my camera.  I suppose in hindsight the picture wasn't worth the grind of getting out of that basin, but at least I got the all-important grainy picture of a lakeside airstrip.

The clouds on the west side of the route home were thinning a little, and concerned about OD in the mountains, I figured that was far enough.  I had to concentrate and fly accurately as the terrain below was unfriendly, but got a good climb back to 10,000ft east of Bumping Lake.  I continued on and found a nice climb above Little Kachess Lake. Crossing Snoqualmie Pass and Rampart Ridge, I topped up above the Ski Slopes and flew along the Alpine lakes area and the steered toward Skykomish State airfield.  

With good clouds ahead, I turned more easterly at Sloan Peak and flew out to Glacier Peak, passing along it's northwest flank.  A little indecisive zig-zagging here, then a decision to try for Jack Mountain before the day died.  Brad was up there and reported good going.  It was a little softer when I arrived and I had the interesting experience of climbing above the glacier in the crater that sits like a nest on the summit.  I wafted up over the rim of the caldera and determined I only needed one more good thermal to be assured of getting home.  I found the thermal I needed at Ruby Mountain, and it boosted me to over 11,000 feet.  I used that altitude to fly at a more leisurely pace almost to Stanwood before returning for a landing at AWO.  

This flight netted 661 OLC points at a fairly fast speed for a vintage glider.  This was my best effort to date for XC flying from the west side of the Cascades.