This was a new spot for us and it worked really well. A bit rough but other than that very usable. You can see it is fairly steep because I am only a couple hundred feet from the plane and the picture reveals how quickly it is dropping.
What I am about to describe will get flight instructors everywhere disagreeing with me, but thats ok. When the terrain gets really steep its best to use the altimeter to judge the elevation of your desired touch down spot. Usually this requires a fly-by of sorts. Sometimes its so steep you can’t fly down the strip so you just fly by it, and look out your side window. Once you have the elevation determined fly out-bound and descend about 150-200 feet below your desired touch down spot, before turning in towards the mountain. Once you are on final approach fly straight and level into the mountain until you are a couple hundred feet out, then start adding power and climbing up the mountain until your tires hit. I know, I know, thats not the way I was taught either, but this works well. It’s also safer than flying a descent into rising terrain because it forces you to climb to your spot rather than risking a steep approach on a one way strip that will force you to flare like a maniac, and possibly hit really hard after floating well beyond your touch down spot. The angle between the air strip and your approach path is much less than if you were to descend to your point.
I realize that is pretty special application flying, but we use the technique all the time. I will often hit the ground with the throttle wide open. It requires knowing your airplane and your loaded condition very well. This past summer I was flying into a very steep glacier with a bit of wind blowing and I got into a downdraft that would not allow me to climb. I was totally empty, and it got my attention, I was preparing to land short when the down draft let me go and it was fine. That is why we do not fly into marginal strips when the wind is blowing. I would not have damaged the cub in that scenario, but it would have been a different touchdown point than I had planned and I HATE surprises in the air. So this technique has its limits for sure, but it is a more consistent, safer option than the alternative.
The spot pictured above is not all that steep, but it still required some special attention. In fact I just remembered that on my initial approach to land I lost sight of my touch down spot. You will see in the video that the clients had marked the ice with their towels and I thought the markers would show up really well on final, but when I turned inbound I could not spot them so I bailed off the approach before I was committed and re-memorized my touchdown point. ( I edited that out) The video is an old one and has been on Youtube for several months already but I like it. The footage for the video was taken on the same day that I took this picture and it shows the landing to this strip. I must have been feeling very uncreative, because the name is pretty weak, “Glacier Landing 1” … wow ….. gripping.