Cross Country and Recreational Paraskiing is developing rapidly thanks to the likes of David Ellis who took a chance and "went for it"
Here's Davids "Reflections of a southern summer"
I left for the Antarctic in the first week of November 1998 to begin a summer season at Rothera Research Station. Having worked for several years at Snowsled making sleds for many polar expeditions I was well aware of Spider as the leading exponents of kite traction for Polar Travel. Roger Mear suggested that a kite would be an excellent addition to my kit. Having seen video footage of Spider parafoils in action used by people such as Crispin Day and Geoff Summers, and having met Mick from Spider, there was only one place to go!
I travelled south, via the Falkland Islands where I was first able to try my kite having only got it shortly before I left. Already in the Falklands was Seb Chastin a friend who had a Flexifoil kite. We yomped out of Port Stanley and flew both kites for the first time. It was immediately apparent that my Spider kite was more controllable and stable.Subsequently Seb was nearly dragged out to sea flying his kite on one of the beaches outside Stanley.
After a few days in the Falklands I flew on to Rothera to arrive early in the season. The base, whilst situated on a rocky peninsular at sea level is fantastically positioned for access up onto the snow and to the ski-way where I was to spend a lot of my time. I fairly quickly progressed onto Paraskiing and not being a good skier the stability of the kite really helped. There is a large area suitable for skiing above Rothera, being flat and often with 10 to15 knots of prevailing wind, it is very suitable for Paraskiing. The windtails left behind equipment stored on the ski-way made for excellent jumps and I was soon taking full advantage of the opportunities.
The most frustrating aspect of Paraskiing there, was that I felt so aware of the possibilities of travelling over great distances. It was hard not to just ski into the... I was going to say sunset, but it does'nt. I also took my kite to fossil bluff and had some more excellent Paraskiing there.
The possibilities are just mind blowing. Had a couple of opportunities to fly alongside Seb and his flexifoil and the same problems emerged. I had more control and stability plus the flexibility of being able to fly in a much greater wind range. We had one excellent day that I remember where the wind was perfect for both of us and I was able to fly closer to the wind, faster with a smaller size kite than Seb with his flexifoil. Seb did have some excellent flying whilst he was in the field but did say that he "wished that he had bought a Spider". On several occasions we went up onto the ski-way and I was able to fly in stronger winds by reducing sail area while Seb had to pack up.
Having been back in the UK now for over a year and having just got my kite back after lending it to Crispin Day, I don't know how much use it will get. Perhaps I need to buy a buggy.. or go back south? Seb and I did talk about just doing a runner from Rothera, or should that be a flyer, and going for the POLE!! The possibilities were that tempting.
Overall the Modulus that I took to the Antarctic. I found it to be very user friendly, flexible and well made. It was an all round excellent bit of kit. If only I could work out where that knot in the cord that attaches the handles to my harness comes from?? (I think he means he can't tie a clove hitch. ED)
Hope this is of use Mick. Feel free to chop, edit, discard, correct spelling etc. Hope you and Spider are well. I have applied to BAS to do another season, if I get the job I hope to crack offline flying/hauling, I might need some coaching.
Thanks for the article Dave, We love you!
BACK to Polar main page
"BIG BOY" MODULUS for sledge towing