Last year in August we raffled off a great Hike&Fly adventure with our team pilot and mountain guide Torsten Kleint. The prize: a guided Hike&Fly high-mountain tour to a 4,000-meter peak in the Western Alps, supported by skywalk glider + harness and free SALEWA mountain sportswear. This super experience was enjoyed by our 2 winners in July 2020.
Our mountain guide and team pilot Torsten talks us through these two great days:
Article by Torsten Kleint:
Unfortunately the Skywalk Challenge “NEW LIMIT” could not take place last year due to bad weather in the Alps. So the anticipation of the participants and me was all the greater as the first agreed date on July 4-5 came closer and nice weather was on the horizon. Wow. We were all mega excited about the upcoming tour. The WhatsApp group chat made communication before the tour easy and two days before the tour started the final details were discussed with the female participant Donni and the male winner Andreas. The meeting point was arranged on Saturday morning at 6:30 am in the parking garage in Saas Fee in Switzerland.
At the top there was still a closed cloud cover in the valley at 2,000 meters. I didn’t want to make the participants wait in the cold at the summit,
so I decided to wait another hour in the cable car station before the ascent to the summit. I paid the bill. With one-hour delay, we set out from the Metro Alpin Bahn to the summit at 8:50 am.
After 2.5 hours we arrived at the summit of the Allalinhorn at 4,027 meters. As a group, we were totally satisfied with our performance. For Donni and Andreas it was the first 4,000-meter peak they have ever climbed. On top of that, we had a great view of the surrounding 4,000-meter peaks. Experiencing this view was like a dream. Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Weisshorn, Dent Blanche, Monte Rosa and many more 4,000-meter peaks lined up in front of us as we admired them. After we enjoyed our summit visit, we took a short break before starting our descent.
The plan was to lay out the gliders at the height of the Feejoch at 3,800 meters and to fly from there to Saas Fee in the valley, but the snow was already getting soft. Arriving at the Feejoch, we laid out the gliders and got ready to launch. At first, the wind was still blowing from the valley towards us as forecasted. But after about 15 minutes, the wind turned and blew from behind.
“Phew, what a mess…”
All three of us had laid out our gliders in joyful expectation of floating down to the valley, and then this happens. In a zero-wind phase, our team lady tried to launch, but broke through the soft snow right at the first step of her take-off run.
As super heavyweights of over 100 kg, Andreas and I buried all our dreams of launching from here. All three of us packed our gear again and, after all our efforts, we hiked back together to the cable car station of the Metro Alpin. Arriving there, the wind god suddenly had mercy on us and the wind once again started blowing from the previously forecasted direction. After a short consultation, we all agreed that we could launch from here.
We laid out our gear quickly and Donni was the first to launch towards the valley. Andreas followed her and then I took off.
What a great day for the participants and me. First, it was the view from this wonderful 4,000-meter high mountain, then a mega beautiful flight from the Metro Alpin cable car into the valley. Unfortunately, we were so late that we did not make it on the last cable car at 3:30 pm to the mountain restaurant Hohsaas at 3,200 meters, our starting point for the next day to climb to the 4.017 m high Weissmies. In short, we took our time to celebrate the first day and let it fade away. At dinner together in a restaurant in Saas Almagell we drank a few cold drinks to celebrate our summit victory.
Sunday – Weissmies:
In the morning we took the first cable car up to the Hohsaas mountain restaurant. From there we hiked directly to the glacier below the Weissmies north face where we pulled out our crampons and ice pick. I was worried that we may have started too late and that the snow would be too soft again for a flight, but I kept these thoughts to myself. We then climbed across the glacier and up a steep face to the final ridge of the Weissmies. This last part was exposed and very windy. After 3 hours at the summit, we were all more than satisfied with ourselves. For the participants it was their second 4,000-meter peak. What a dream!
During the last hour of the ascent to the summit we thought a flight would be impossible due to the strong wind. After a short rest at the summit with a magnificent view of the numerous surrounding 4,000-meter peaks, we started our descent. After just 30 vertical meters, the wind was blowing at us from the front. There were gusts up to 25 km/h that felt like 40 km/h at this altitude, but we all thought a flight to the valley might be possible.
Donni was the first to get ready for her flight with her ARIBBA XXS. Andreas and I helped her with the preparations and with laying out her glider. After a short wait for the right wind, Donnie kited her glider with total confidence and climbed into the sky above the summit. What a moment! What a dream! Andreas was next and did a great cobra launch with his ARIBBA L. The last to leave the summit, I followed Andreas with my ARAK S.
Our flight to Saas Fee in the valley was like a 45-minute dream. After landing, we met Donnie and her boyfriend who were waiting for us. All three of us agreed that we would not forget the last two days so quickly. The weather was great. The conditions were great and the wind god ensured that our wind was “great” too.
All in all, we were lucky that everything worked out so nicely. We were a wonderful team, the weather was great and the yield from the two days was great.
Two unforgettable days filled with great experiences – we all agreed on that.
The material from skywalk and SALEWA was a reliable partner for us during the two days. Without confidence in the great material we would not have dared to fly in not-so-easy conditions.