What is Vol Bivouac?
‘Vol-Bivouac’ means, literally, fly-camping. At the fringe of what many consider to be an already fringe sport, vol-bivouac pilots are paragliders who carry the necessary self-support equipment with them in flight and cross sections of mountainous terrain on foot and by air, using thermals and wind to cover sometimes vast distances over a period of several days or weeks.
The vol-bivouac pilot’s mission is to launch in the mountains and fly as far as possible using thermals and wind, landing at the end of the flyable day near a suitable launch from which his or her expedition may begin again the next day. The amount of skill and planning that is necessary to make long vol-bivouac flights in big mountains is massive, due to the complexities of mountain weather and terrain.
Vol-bivouac flying is most common in the European Alps, where more than one hundred thousand pilots live and fly, although the number of accomplished ‘vol-biv’ pilots probably totals less than two hundred worldwide.