To Ride the Sky: Paragliding in the Rocky Mountains

There is a different kind of creature huddling in the dark on damp, cold mornings in Silverton on Labor Day Weekend.

They congregate at about five in the morning, assess the weather, break into small packs and begin a 4,000 vertical foot ascent of Kendall Mountain.

There, they reconvene just after daybreak, share horror stories of friends, loved ones and themselves sustaining life threatening injuries from their free flights, then proceed to run off the mountain, suspended by fabric and thin cord.

This is the Silverton Free Flight Clinic. A paragliding event where pilots who fly without motor assistance can meet each other, teach each other and fly from perhaps the biggest mountain launch site with vehicle access this country has to offer. With a launch just shy of 13,000 feet, this is a flight worth driving for.

Coming from locations like Albuquerque, Flagstaff, all over Colorado and points in California, this weekend proved to be accident free and tons of fun for around 30 pilots that made the trip.

With support from Rock Pirates in Silverton and Little Cloud, organizer Austin Lashley, owner of Avalanche Brewing Company, revived the event that began in the 70’s. With more exposure and the growth in free flight sports, he hopes to have twice as many pilots attend the event next year.