PEÑON-VALLE (By Peñitas)

Flight Tips

The XC flight from Peñon to Valle has two basic routes; the Peñitas route is the easiest route to stay within a glide of the main road. On this route you can simply take a taxi without having to walk a lot. Many taxis pass by. It is also a recommended route for students who begin to fly XC because there are several good LZs.

In the XC season (October to May) I recommend not to take off after 1pm on the morning flight. The thermal cycles on launch typically build from light at 10am to strong cycles by 1pm. The base wind also typically increases significantly in the afternoon as the sea breeze/valley wind comes in.

It is common to encounter the full strength of wind and thermal soon after launching, so even more than at most launches, it is important to concentrate on flying the glider after launch, and leave getting into the harness and messing with instruments until later.

There are often light conditions in between major thermal cycles on launch. The light conditions are usually launchable and there is little risk of sinking out if pilots are climbing in front but confidence and practice with a running reverse or forward launch are needed. If you are in the comp, the other competitors waiting in the hot sun will thank you for having practiced launching.

The house thermal is to the left of takeoff, above a South-facing bowl and saddle. You must climb at least 400m above the takeoff (or less with an advanced paraglider) to reach the valley that is behind. Looking northeast behind the takeoff, you can see two rocks (Peñitas) to your left side and a hill right in front of you (known as the hill of Tres Cruces). This valley is usually not working well, especially if it is early; I recommend you do not throw yourself behind the takeoff before noon in the XC season. An advantage of the little valley of Peñitas is that it has the straight line of the road through which collective taxis pass continuously and has two very large fields. The farther field from takeoff usually charges 25 pesos for landing, but has a small wind indicator.

The best thing is to gain as much height as possible to arrive above the Peñitas that usually work and fly directly to them, if you arrive below them you can try to surf the second Peñita but it is quite difficult to recover at this point; If you do not have much height to get over the Peñitas I recommend trying to hook the thermal that usually leaves the hill of the three crosses. Failing that, a bit farther, there is a field with horseshoe-shaped stables, which usually produce a thermal, though the location is not fixed. The last resort is a thermal at the end of the last field but it is not very constant and if you drift too far downwind you can run out of landings.

If you manage to climb in any of these three options the next step is to climb over Sacamecate. It usually works on the windward side, which is usually the southwest one (where there is a small hut) or on the northeast side and heading towards the Garbage Dump. If you are not climbing well and you have the fields towards the Jovan on glide you can fly over the Garbage Dump, which usually gives off a stinky thermal. If you manage to rise well in any of these thermals, it is common to climb more than take off and be established in the convergence. 

If you are climbing at Sacamecate I recommend taking the maximum possible height for the next transition to Cerro del San Agustín. If you prefer to stay within reach of landings and the main road you can go to Jovan but this valley is difficult because it does not have constant thermals and from there to Valle you have a head wind; From Jovan if you want to go to Valle you should make sure you get to the fields of Casa Viejas and try to get up there to reach Valle.

If you go by way of San Agustín, the convergence and the thermal sources tend to change a lot depending on the intensity of wind and the direction of the wind of each day. For that reason it is advisable to take a lot of height to find the climb without having to commit to the Mesa. The convergence works better higher up, so arriving with more height can help a lot. Look for clouds as clues to the locations of the best thermals. This hill does not usually have rotor as the winds converge there. The landings are in a northeasterly direction but somewhat away from San Agustin, so you have to keep an eye on the fields. 

If you don’t mind risking a long walk you can look for thermals on the Mesa south of San Agustín, where there are several landings. Likewise with La Casa, the field just east of San Agustín. The residents there have sometimes been unwelcoming but they have also been known at times to drive pilots several kilometers to the main road.

If you manage to climb at San Agustín and you have 1000m over takeoff you can glide to Valle. But if you do this you must consider that you will arrive at Valle at the venturi and if your glider is not very high performance you may not arrive, but along the way you have the fields of Casas Viejas (where it is very difficult to find lift, unless the convergence is much farther north than usual). Past Casas Viejas, the last field before Valle is Santa Maria del pueblo.

If at San Agustín you do not have enough height to reach Valle you can jump to Escalerillas. Like at San Agustín, the thermals and convergence there vary depending on the intensity of the wind and the direction. Here you have to be aware of the landings because if you scratch very low you can get stuck. Just as in San Agustín you have the option of the fields on the Mesa (which I do not recommend because you have to walk a lot) and the fields on the northeast side which are those of Casas Viejas. 

Thermals tend to come off both the south and north sides of Escalerillas, but are often hard to work down low, until they come together 150m or so above the ridge. The convergence is usually between a stronger SW wind from the Temascaltepec valley and a weaker NW wind in the Valle valley. The line of convergence often tilts from the top of Escalerillas and San Agustín toward the north, so that pilots at the top of the convergence may be almost over Casas Viejas.

The transition from Escalerillas to Valle is more crosswind and you bypass the venturi at the downwind corner of the lake, so there is less risk of coming up short. If you climb 800m above the takeoff you have Valle on glide. Congratulations!!!!