Hike-and-fly tips for winter Flying over snow-covered summits

Advance Allgäu Gleitschirm Herbst Sonnenaufgang Winter michael mittag

Gliding through the air almost silently and feasting your eyes on unbe­lievable panoramas: Paragliding is becoming more and more popular. This is hardly surprising. After all, people have been fascinated by the “dream of flying” for ages. Over the years, paragliding has undergone a process of evolution. In the past, the heavy canopies used by paragliders generally had to be hauled up a mountain in a gondola or chairlift. No longer. Today, many pilots are able to simply carry their gear up the mountain thanks to advances that have shed tremendous amounts of weight from their flying equipment. The sport is called “hike and fly”. It is a form of flying that produces incredible exper­iences in the winter. Our blog partner Ulligunde has compiled a list of helpful tips and great launch sites for you to take along during winter.

Hike and Fly Winter

Tips for the climb Watch out for snow groomers!

Assuming that no route is explicitly available for snowshoe or winter hikers, you should not climb up ski slopes because they are groomed during the evening and in the morning. You may face two hazards if you do decide to take such a hike: You could be run over by one of the snow groomers preparing the slope or you may fall over steel winch ropes that secure the groomers on the steep portions of the slope.

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““Alpenver­einaktiv” and “Outdoor­active”. You can switch between open-street maps and official data and determine whether (or how likely) there are any trails leading to the launch site. If a map shows just one trail, there is a 50:50 chance that it still exists. When in doubt: Give it a try!”

Erika, Ulligunde.com

Advance Allgäu Gleitschirm Herbst Sonnenaufgang Winter michael mittag

A helpful hint Make sure that the canopy does not slide!

If your canopy starts to slide in the snow, you can use small pins that resemble golf tees to hold it in place. If you do not happen to have any tees, you can use small branches or, in a pinch, even long shish kebab skewers. Many state-of-the-art models (Bantam, Pi3…) are equipped with eyelets that you can use to affix the canopy in the snow.

Image photo with the APPROACH PRO GTX LO Ws, Hike and Fly Winter

At one with nature Do not scare the animals

You should not do any soaring flights in little-used areas because a paragliding canopy can trigger a wild animal’s escape instinct. In the process, the animals lose valuable reserves that they need to survive the winter.

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Equipment tip Heated gloves and mini-crampons

Following a long period of nice weather, you should use mini-crampons so that you can climb up icy tracks and sledge runs. If you are worried that your fingers may freeze up during the flight, you should check out heated gloves – they are powered by small battery packs and will heat each finger separately – these gloves are worth their weight in gold!

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“Considerate walkers and hikers stay off cross-country ski trails. Walking in those trails destroys them for cross-country skiers and doesn’t keep walkers from breaking through the crust.”

Erika, Ulligunde.com

Gleitschirm Johanna Pi Tonka Winter

Launch site tip in Allgäu Weiherkopf (Bolsterlang)

You can use the sledge run to make an easy climb to the launch sites. The first launch site is located about halfway to the summit at the middle station and points to the east. More ambitious paragliders will hike all the way to the summit of the Weiherkopf (summit station of the chairlift) – the southwest launch site is also open during the winter. It is located at the entrance to the off-piste skiing area. You will have to watch out for skiers here. The northern launch site on the summit of the Weiherkopf and the “Knobel” launch site (an area somewhat below the summit next to the chairlift) are off-limits during the winter! You can land at the miniature golf course (north­eastern exit). You will also find a car park there where you can set off.

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Launch site tip in Allgäu (2) Mittagberg (Immenstadt)

The climb usually starts at the location called “Ettensberg”. You will find a car park (voluntary donation for use) directly at the landing zone of a former restaurant, the “Tanne”. The climb past the Bildkapelle chapel is usually tracked, and the path is nicely worn down after a few days of good weather. You will find launch sites pointing to the south, northeast and west. The western site is not used partic­ularly often. You may have a few launch problems created by snow if you use it. The southern launch site has been partially graded. Paragliders who use the north­eastern site will take off directly from the gravel terrace of the railway or slightly below it if the amount of snow permits.

Hike and Fly Winter

Launch site tip for a winter excursion Bassano and friends

The classic! Of course, you will find climbing paths that lead to the main spots – but things will get a little more isolated in the neigh­bourhood! A climb filled with all sorts of wonderful contrasts is the climb near Rubbio that leads to a large launch site (south). The paths in Meduno are just as secluded (at least the climb). They lead directly from the landing zone to various launch sites. The coun­tryside will certainly catch your eye. Things get even more remote in Feltre during the winter – the climb from the landing zone initially winds through the sleepy village before heading up the moun­tainside on sensa­tionally beautiful trails.

Hike and Fly Winter

Launch site tip for a winter excursion “extended”: Algodonales (Spain)

If you are yearning for T-shirt weather and a little Rioja, you should check out the flight connections to Malaga! Once there, you can hop into a hired car and take off on a 1.5 hour trip that will take you to a small flying nest called “Algodonales”, a place that is designed to completely meet paragliders’ needs. The local mountain, the “Levante”, can be climbed directly from the village (launch sites to the south, north and northwest). All of the other surrounding launch sites can also be reached by taking surprisingly attractive hiking trails. If you cannot afford a hired car, you can use the infra­structure provided by the German Gerhard Ganter – he offers a pickup service from the airport to Algodonales, accom­mod­ations and shuttles to the launch sites.