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Loïs Martin finished 6th at the Mont-Blanc Airtour

Loïs Martin is a french pilot passionate about hike and fly. Last autumn, he participated in the Mont-Blanc Airtour, a new event in the hike-and-fly scene organised by Rémi Bourdelle (another AirDesign team pilot!) for which we were main sponsor. Well, that’s an AirDesign story!

The Mont-Blanc Air Tour aims to make people discover or rediscover the majestic and imposing playground of the Mont-Blanc massif. Organized in the fall by Rémi Bourdelle, the first edition already brought together some strong athletes with big names such as Max Pinot and Aaron Durogati. Loïs Martin, flying the Volt 4 was among them and came 6th. And that was epic! Here is his story:

„The weather forecast was quite bad, everyone expected to walk in the rain on Friday and Saturday and to fly well on Sunday… It turned out differently.

Friday, the day begins with a magnificent long glide from the Aiguillette des Houches, to top-land on the Passy takeoff. We then walk in the clouds, going through the Desert of Platé… What an atmosphere!

We then end up finding a small take-off above a pass, just under the clouds. It allows us to fly above Samoëns, I land just at the foot of the Bostan refuge. I have to walk back up while all those who arrived after were able to land at the refuge, but it’s ok, it’s not very long… There I manage a great thermal flight under the clouds, it looks like it’s night but it climbs really well, which allows me to land a few kilometers from the Lac de Gers refuge, with a comfortable margin to get back before 8 p.m.

We find ourselves very numerous at the refuge, between the first who had to come back here, and the last ones who have not managed to go further. Luckily the caretakers are brilliant and managed to find places where there were none so everyone could sleep in a warm bed.

The second day was announced to be rainy at the start, it is finally a very strong North wind, a cold atmosphere and enormous instability which await us. The cocktail begins with a walk in the snow to wake up well, then a thermal flight at 8:30 am, in 30 km/h of wind. We manage to fly and land directly at Doran’s refuge with our fingers totally frozen. The nice thing is that we don’t even have 400 m to hike up. The less fun thing is that there is still 30 km/h of wind, so it’s scary… We end up getting in the air, I’m in the middle of exceptional pilots who are no more reassured than me at the idea of flying. It sounds kind of unbelievable but the flight is going well, I’m technically at my best, but mentally it’s really too difficult. I land at altitude in Crest-Voland to take a moment to reflect: do I continue to fly in these crazy conditions or do I end up on foot?

I end up taking off again towards the valley, it’s ok if I don’t get altitude, I will end up on foot for today and that’s fine. Barely time to land, my friend Ludo arrives, we motivate ourselves by walking on the flat to take off again at the end of Val d’Arly, a little further than Megève. This flight is finally calmer… It allows us to reach the Chamonix Valley where much more lenient conditions pick us up. Welcome to ceilings above 3000 m, finally almost no more wind here, we seem well protected.

The conditions allow us to quickly reach the refuge of Balme where I unfortunately lose Ludo, who quits in the last thermal and ends up walking back to the refuge. I am a bit more lucky, I manage to land at the Loriaz refuge to validate the turnpoint on foot… Once again, I get my fingers frozen during the glide towards the refuge, what a unbearable pain, luckily I no longer need to hold the handles during the 10-minute glide that takes me above the refuge. I then take off again from the refuge in a well-established katabatic wind, but with a bit of goodwill and my nice Volt 4, it’s ok! Let’s go for a somewhat kamikaze landing on the west face of Les Posettes, which is followed by a short walk to the Balme refuge to spend the night, warmly welcomed by the caretaker. What a day!

Sunday, there is only a short walk to the Albert Premier refuge, which I eat for breakfast as quickly as possible with Sylvain on my heels. I arrive first at the shelter with a few minutes in advance, Sylvain and I are fighting for the 6th place ! Again there is some katabatic wind and you have to manage to take off… Which I’m happy to be able to do first!

So I fly to Chamonix where I will land about ten minutes later, around 9am on ground that is still frozen.

This competition is for me the most successful so far, I knew how to make the right strategic choices at the right times. The guys in front are real machines, they knew how to fly in terrible conditions, for hours in the wind and the cold. Hats off to them, I followed them from not so far and it’s already huge!“

Congratulations Loïs and congrats to Rémi for organizing such a great event. AirDesign will be again sponsor for the 2023 edition, stay tuned!