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Cameron's rigid sled in Iceland: "Setup and take-down was a 2-minute affair"

Posted: Oct 29, 2007 08:07 am EDT

(ThePoles.com) The first rigid, habitable sledge seen in Antarctica - is Brazilian, Julio Fiadi proudly reported from Patriot Hills this past Antarctica season.

Seems he has an American cousin, though! "Just a note; I see that Julio Fiadi will be using a 'live-in sledge' in Antarctica. This immediately caught my attention as I used a similar sled in my expeditions to Iceland's Vatnajokull ice cap in 2001-2004," writes Cameron M. Smith of Portland State University.

Polar "Habs"

Lightweight Earth exploration travel in extreme environments lends hands from the Space industry and could in turn pave way for future travel on other planets.

As an example, Orca, the first Expedition 30 multi-hull rowing boat ever used for an Atlantic crossing was created by a former engineer of Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites (SpaceShip One) and two Max Epoxies designers.

In the next entry on our Mars mission we will cover the Hab and that's when lightweight constructions really will have to be examined.

Cameron reports, "My sled was designed by Icelander Halldor Kvaran and myself, and built by Halldor, who still owns it as far as I know (he's in Reykjavik)."

"The sled is also shown in the internationally-televised half-hour documentary, 'The Deadly Glacier' (Creative Touch Films, London).

Setup and take-down a 2-minute affair

So did it work? "The pulkahut turned out to be an excellent piece of expedition gear," Cameron reports, "making camp setup and take-down a 2-minute affair; this was its main advantage over a tent: ease of camping, which, of course, is one of the main areas of difficulty for manhauling expeditions."

"It also easily withstood the 70mph winds that swept the ice cap in the Winter months. It has some problems, though, such as the skis: while they worked well enough most of the time, they were not too effective in deep, loose snow."

2007-2009 winter on the North Coast of Alaska next

"I'm looking forward to seeing how Julio gets on with his 'capsule'!" Cameron writes.

As for his own plans, he says, "my 2007-2009 winter excursions on the North Coast of Alaska are coming along, scheduled for paragliding next winter, and sea-ice diving in 09. I've posted clips of the expedition at YouTube and am updating the expedition on several links (check links section below images.)

Cameron is also currently writing a book about his Iceland expeditions, and if we're lucky he'll even write a story about such sleds for us!

Because of their ease of setup and takedown, Cameron thinks live-in sleds will become the norm as materials costs decrease (e.g. kevlar). "The only drawback is that they're really only suitable for one person (except the giant Spanish sleds used in Antarctica some time ago; kite-powered). For the soloist, though, they're magic, in my experience."


Cameron's "pulkahut" made camping easy.
Image by Cameron M Smith courtesy Cameron M Smith, SOURCE
Camp setup and take-down was a 2-minute affair.
"I had some severe condensation problems before installing vents." (Click to enlarge).
"Setup and take-down a 2-minute affair; it easily withstood the 70mph winds that swept the ice cap in the Winter months. And here it is, opened for camping, showing the fabric walls and the fiberglass shell. (click to enlarge).
"This is looking into the interior, where I'm loading storage compartments under the 'floor'" (click to enlarge). All images courtesy of Cameron McPherson Smith, Iceland expeditions photo gallery.