Learn to Paraglide Part 1

20 04 2011

Have you ever lived somewhere or gone on holiday and been frustrated by the weather conditions? If you have ever lived in Wellington NZ you may will have been frustrated by how windy it is. Fair call, it really is one of the windiest cities in the world, the stats say so. You probably start asking your self questions like why it’s so windy and continue to get frustrated unless you are into sailing or kitesurfing.

Over 3.5 half years ago I was frustrated by having to drive 3-8 hours each weekend to get good kayaking. Rather than get frustrated I asked myself the question, what can I do right here in Wellington NZ, that will keep me entertained and give me Flow . Bingo, it is windy in Wellington and kitesurfing looks good.

Over 3.5 years have passed and a world record later, I am here in France chasing snow kiting. I have arrived at the end of a bad snow season, with beautiful blue skys, 20-25 degrees and perfectly still wind conditions. Now that sounds pretty good if you enjoy summer, but not if you are a snow kiter.

I have spent over a week up at the Col du Lautaret and unfortunately only managed one half day of snow kiting. I have however managed to meet some cool people up there and been hosted by The Kite Legende snow kite school . Great bunch of guys and a fantastic spot with good access. If you are ever in the area do look up Rémi Borgioli, he runs Frances oldest kite school, has good English, is an all round nice guy and has good knowledge of the weather.

So I am back in Lans en Vercors (Close to Grenoble) and am asking myself the same question as 3.5 years ago. What can I do in Lans en Vercors that can take advantage of the nice weather stunning scenery and that also lets me perform baby minding duties. You have probably guessed from the title that it’s paragliding. The idea has been eating away at me for some time now and was cemented but watching Dave Cornthwaite learning to paraglide. He has a great blog and an interesting series of adventures planned. Go check his blog out.

I have chosen to learn to paraglide with Parapente Alto who has been operating since 1995 and has a good safety record. My main concern was to find someone who can speak English, because I really am not keen on a lost in translation moment, while hanging from a bit of cloth, a few strings and dangling hundreds of feet up in the air. Thankfully they do have instructors that speak good English. We we, was that left or right you wanted me to go?

My next few blogs will be about the adventure of learning to Paraglide. I hope to be able to provide an insight into what its like and what I am thinking along the way. This will be an honest warts and all account. As a full disclosure I have been tandem paragliding passenger twice with my cousin, who runs Coronet Peak Tandems. He is based Queenstown NZ and has in the past has been the best performing kiwi on the world cup paragliding circuit, as well as 4 times NZ champion. Other than that I have no experience of paragliding other that being related to someone really good at the sport.

What have you thought about wanting to try, but never got around to it?

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2 responses

20 04 2011
Jules Tapper

Get into the paragliding ( Parapente where you are Louis) It is a great sport and later when you are proficient one of those new light weight mountain wings and light weight harness( reversible) with a clip on reserve would be just the thing for you. Remember Angus is the NZ agent for Gradient so should be able to do you a good deal. When last we toured Europe I had my normal wing and kit with me but it was quite bulky and a bit inconvenient at times. However managed to get 32 flights in 7 countries and an average flight time of just over an hour. Longest 5.5 hrs around the Eiger area and the shortest 20 mins. You can have a blast. Travel well and enjoy. Tell Annielle we will be there around the 20th JUne Cheers Jules

21 04 2011
yakernz10

I have always thought paragliding was to slow and boring compared to kitesurfing, well that is for the amount of risk involved. It will be interesting to see if that is true. Will probably be in Morocco by then, I hear there is good conditions down there.

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