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Marc Cornelissen: The new polar sled maker

Posted: Jun 30, 2006 03:25 pm EDT

(ThePoles.com) There are no second chances in unsupported polar expeditions. You make it with what you've got or you bust. The most crucial parts being the skis and the sleds: If they break they are very hard to fix or replace. The biggest challenge is to get a sled to hold up on an unsupported North Pole crossing. The heavy load and the broken ice place a serious strain on the material. <cutoff>

Traditionally, unsupported polar expeditions have got their sleds from Alex at Acapulka. In the last two years, an increasing number of expeditions have also been buying their pulks from Marc Cornelissen. While the sleds have yet to be tested in unsupported Arctic treks, they seem to be doing well on Antarctica's smother ice.

<b>Experience-based designs</b>

The Dutch polar researcher designed his first sled for his own Pole Track expedition in 2005. Since then, he has put three new models on the market.

"It is a way to put to use my training as an architect, and I work with great people," Marc told ExplorersWeb. "It's fun to design and make this stuff based on my own experience."

Marc designs the sleds with the help of Remco Wilcke also architect from Delft University, and the sleds are built by Dutch Composites, a company specialized in canoes.

First I suggested cooperation to an existing manufacturer. My proposal got the cold shoulder so I started to shape my own models. The ultimate goal is to introduce a really innovative way of making this product, said Marc.

<b>From Arctic tests to a special South Pole model</b>

The model I made for Pole Track 2005 hasnt been commercialized yet. It is concave and very big. Then we made the South Pole model, which was derived from the first one - so far Ive sold 30 SP sleds.

The SP sled is 230 cm long, 64 cm wide, 25 cm average height, weighing approx. 10.2 kg. It is made of a cured laminate of aramide and glassfiber, with sandwich reinforcing ribs and a special gel coat. The cover is made of Cordura 500 with Velcro or a YKK zipper. It can be made in several colors and the Harness, specially made by Radical Design, is included in the price.

<b>The Greenland kiting test</b>

Paul Landry used this model on kiting expeditions both to Antarctica and Greenland:
"For eighteen days the pulks bounced behind us when we kited, and we kited as fast as we could so they really bounced over hard and rough terrain," Paul Landry wrote to Marc after completing the Invesco Antarctic Crossing. "Sometimes they flipped but that was rare. Having the runners further apart really helped stabilize the pulk. The wide runners were very good in the soft snow of the Axel Heiberg glacier. The P-TEX runners you glued on were excellent."

Then I took your pulks on a Greenland expedition," Landry added. "We did a double crossing of the Greenland ice cap with the same sleds we used in Antarctica another 1,200 kilometers. We also beat the previous fastest crossing record (8 days) and completed the crossing in 7 days. Once again, your pulks were fantastic.

<b>The next step - smaller sleds</b>

The next model I developed is intended for shorter trips or Polar expeditions getting resupplies. It is also good for longer, unsupported trips used in twin mode, Marc told ExWeb.

It is slightly smaller than the previous model (165 x 56 x 28 cm) but offers a large capacity: 160 liters hull only, and up to 375 liters when packed. The cover is Cordura 500 with a carbon rim, the pulk materials are similar to the SP model, and the gliding material glued to the sled is ultra high molecular polyethylene with graphite.

Currently I also have a 1 meter pulk in the planning for my daughter shes 6 years old. But hey, it can be perfect for last degree trips as well ;-)

<i>Marc Cornelissen's Pole Track 2005 expedition's original goal was to reach the North Pole, but logistic problems forced the team to abort after some days on the ice.

Marc also collaborates with the European Space Agency, latest in the Ben & Jerrys Climate Change College a project aimed to turn young adults into environmentalists: Kids undergo intensive training before traveling to the Arctic, to help scientists collect data. </i>

#Polar #feature

The first model (in the image) was made for Marc's own North Pole expedition. "It is concave and very big," says Marc (click to enlarge).
The South Pole model (click to enlarge).
The next model is intended for shorter trips or Polar expeditions getting resupplies (click to enlarge).
"For eighteen days the pulks bounced behind us when we kited, and they really bounced over hard and rough terrain," Paul Landry told Marc. In the image, Landry's Invesco team on a non-kiting section of their (supported) Antarctic crossing. All images courtesy of Marc Cornelissen (click to enlarge).