Generally the season runs from late May to late October. The access road is often snowbound up until the very last week of May making the Lookout launch inaccessible by vehicle. Mid-May onwards, a low launch can be accessed by vehicle but the road is often soft and muddy (and subject to extreme damage (i.e. costs money to fix!) The low launch can be used by both hang gliders and paragliders but it is tight, steep and tricky because of possible cross-winds (e.g. NW winds) Only one glider at a time can be launched. It works best for hang gliders as there can be a lot of ground snags for paragliders and trees on both sides.
Because of high lapse rates in the spring (May-mid June), the conditions can be particulalry strong in the afternoons. Temperatures at altitude can be extremely cold. June is a fairly unstable month in the mountains so there can be a lot of overdevelopment by noon. June-to July 15 can be rainy, but the weather patterns start to settle and become more reliable towards the middle of July. Mid July to Mid August is peak XC season though big cross country flights can be had earlier or later depending on weather and your tolerance for turbulence. August goes from arsekicking to glassoffs to pretty quiet, PGs float about all afternoon, HGs not much action sometimes close to September. As we move into the fall the thermals are around but generally you can't climb very high so most flying is around Mt7. XC's have been accomplished in late September and October but these are generally rare. This is the time of year where paragliders have a slight advantage over hang gliders in that they can hang out in fairly narrow bands of lift. Long flights (timewise) are fairly common but nobody gets above the summit much so nobody goes XC.
Golden is a thermal site, an afternoon site, and a cross-country site. 1000 fpm is quite normal, up to 2500 fpm is perfectly common. As such it should be considered an advanced site particularly in the afternoons up until about 6pm. Novices/intermediates can certainly have enjoyable flying here but they should plan to fly morinings and evenings. Early summer days are quite long at this latitude and it is not uncommon to launch at 7 or 8pm and fly for a couple of hours.
Cross country flights - to the south most common. 100 km flights relatively common. Good LZs, though there are some restrictions and rules. Locals will fill you in. Return is straightforward as there is only one highway; very basic hitch-hiking if you do not have retrieval arranged. To the north is more challenging, from route finding to LZs to what happens if it goes wrong. Days are long mid-summer - daylight 5:00 am to 11:00 pm. August closes in fast. 7:00 am to 8:00 pm by last week of August. If you are over 7 at say 9500 ft ASL in glass-off at 8:00 pm August 23, it will be DARK by the time you have struggled down to the valley bottom at 2600 ft ASL to land.
A note on safety: Golden is a Rocky Mountain Site. Terrain is rugged and the forests are thick with deadfall, undergrowth and mosquitoes(in July). Trees can exceed 100' in height. The backcountry is known grizzly bear & cougar habitat. Much of the terrain is without a source of water. When you fly XC here you are flying over fairly remote terrain. Cell phone coverage is spotty and radio reception can be unreliable due to obstructions. Outlandings away from the valley floor and its associated highway can turn into life-threatening ordeals if you are not prepared. What may appear to be a fairly short jaunt to the road from the air can actually be a multi-hour hike from hell. While there are quite a few forestry roads in evidence from the air, these are not heavily travelled if there is no active logging taking place. Some roads may even be deactivated, washed out or otherwise obstructed to vehicle traffic. Please plan and use common sense in your flying activities.
For Complete Information on Accessing & Flying Mount 7
Historically, both hang gliding and paragliding meets have tended to be scheduled on or around the last week of July and the first week of August.
GENERAL HANG OUTS & MEETING PLACES
The Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch (the LZ) ~ The municipal camground ~ The bird house at Reflection Lake at the foot of the Mount 7 Lookout forestry access road.
IMPORTANT SMALL PRINT
To fly the site you must be have pilot insurance.For Canadian pilots, this means full HPAC membership. For US pilots, USHGA insurance covers it, but HPAC temp membership would be better if it ever came to it. For everyone else, this means HPAC temporary, Out-of-Country membership ($15 for 3 months, and available in Golden) Waivers are becoming a norm - be prepared to be asked to read and sign one. We have an emergency fund known as the Contingency Fund. It is principally setup to cover helicopter rescue costs. You can join in for $20 per season. (Know that rescue charges in BC have been from $2000 to $5000)
NICE SMALL PRINT
It costs money to run and maintain the site. We sell T-shirts and the like, the profits going to the site. We like it when you buy these things!
OTHER FLYING SITES
There are numerous other sites from 1 hours to 5 hours drive away. Swansea = 1 hr, Panorama = 1 1/2 hrs, Wasa = 2 1/2 hrs, Revelstoke = 2 hrs, and the Okanagan valley and Kamloops area (=5 hrs) have a whole stack of them. They do provide some options for bad weather, and variety for those who have come from a really long way and for whom this trip could be one of a lifetime. Some of these sites do have some features, from long walks to HG friendly only launches to distant or non-existent LZ's, so check them out. The links will get you there.
Read an Article about Golden. Click here.