With SPIDER's profile raised higher by Roger's impressive mileages, 1996 looked promising with a team lead by Robert Swan proposing a journey from the South Pole to the edge of the ice shelf - the "Tandem One Step Beyond Expedition". Robert made it clear that ONE STEP was as far as he wanted to walk!
While there had been no material or design failures on any of the SPIDER equipment previously used in Antarctica, refinements and feedback had allowed us to improve the deployment and handling systems of the parafoils. With the use of "inliners", we are able to train Paraskiers on Pembrey's vast wind blown beach. The value of training has been continually stressed to the Explorers by us and re-iterated by them on their return!
Good handling techniques minimize danger at crisis points often avoiding them altogether. Understanding the principles of sailing, and having experience with the parafoils, makes for better and safer performance. We have yet to really see MODULUS used to its fullest potential in Antarctica, believing that over 322km (200 miles) in a day is possible.
Lessons learnt by Roger were translated into an improved sledge design that showed great promise in testing on Mont Blanc. Sadly conditions did not allow new innovated rigging systems to be fully assessed. However on a wet and sticky beach "Spiderman" Mick Parsons was able to successfully demonstrate UPWIND sledge towing.
Crispin Day, one of the 3 members of the "One Step" team, was then able to repeat the feat while skating alongside the sledge! The One Step Expedition intent on promoting technological advances, planned to use SPIDER MODULUS as the key to a record breaking exit from the Pole.
The One Step Expedition, having taken the decision to only travel by kite power, completed their journey a week ahead of schedule. Starting out from the Pole on 11th December 1996 they travelled 1657km (1030 miles) in 38 days which included nine days when they didn't travel because of a complete lack of wind and a day waiting for an airplane. The ability of MODULUS to match power to individual requirements means that the problem of different rates of travel can be confined to a safe degree. This is important in team use where it's the speed of the slowest that defines the progress of the group. Relatively small differences in performances can result in big distances between Pilots. (Waiting for people to catch up causes problems as the faster Pilot's temperature drops.)
The team found that they went through an average of 5 rig changes (sizes) a day, as they modulated their parafoils to maximize the conditions. With the "dough nuts" attached to the top of the sledge - the kites could be deployed/modulated/packed away quickly and simply.
The starting sledge weights were 150kg (330lb) - 50kg (112lb) more than we had anticipated! Shown left a packed MODULUS dwarfed by the load, a full sledge and an Explorer! That's 2.5kg hauling more than 230kg over 1657km (1030 miles) - an exceptional power to weight ratio. The kites worked so successfully for them that they found their calorific requirement dropped to such an extent that they were unable to eat all their food, diminishing the need for the re-supply. On completion of the journey they showed no signs of weight loss and were in excellent health. The custom sailing/manhauling harnesses had worked very well, with no sores, pressure points or even chaffing.
They also found that they could use the kites in sastrugi fields (areas of wind chiselled ice waves) - something Geoff Somers with all his Polar experience had thought impossible. The control with which they were able to "pump" and work their MODULUS meant they could make very good progress with relative ease.
|THE ONE STEP bEYOND EXPEDITION 1996|
|11 DEC||0||17km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|12 DEC||1||5km||ALL MANHAUL|
|13 DEC||2||51km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|14 DEC||3||13km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|15 DEC||4||30km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|16 DEC||5||-||NO WIND|
|17 DEC||6||-||NO WIND|
|18 DEC||7||33km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|19 DEC||8||60km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|20 DEC||9||55km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|21 DEC||10||35km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|22 DEC||11||53km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|23 DEC||12||29km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|24 DEC||13||23km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|25 DEC||14||-||NO WIND|
|26 DEC||15||101km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|27 DEC||16||57km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|28 DEC||17||7km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|29 DEC||18||1km||NO WIND|
|30 DEC||19||-||NO WIND|
|31 DEC||20||-||WAITING FOR AIRCRAFT|
|01 JAN||21||46km||AIRCRAFT DEPARTS|
|02 JAN||22||80km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|03 JAN||23||107km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|04 JAN||24||164km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|05 JAN||25||125km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|06 JAN||26||-||NO WIND|
|07 JAN||27||100km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|08 JAN||28||25km||ONLY 2 HOURS OF WIND|
|09 JAN||29||16.km||ONLY 1 HOUR OF WIND|
|10 JAN||30||2km||SHEAR ZONE|
|11 JAN||31||80km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|12 JAN||32||-||LIGHT HEAD WIND|
|13 JAN||33||-||LIGHT HEAD WIND|
|14 JAN||34||12km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|15 JAN||35||110km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|16 JAN||36||-||NO WIND|
|17 JAN||37||102km||SPIDER TRACTION|
|18 JAN||38||118km||SLOWED bY CREVASSING|
|DAYS TAKEN||DAYS SAILED||AVERAGE DAILY DISTANCE||AVERAGE DAILY DISTANCE SAILED|
|38||28||44km/27 miles a day||60km/37 miles a day|
|COMPARATIVE POLAR TRAVELLING DISTANCES|
|EXPLORER||TOTAL DISTANCE||DAYS||AV DAILY DISTANCE||METHOD|
|1912||Roald Amundsen||3,000km/1864 miles||99||30km/19 miles||Dogs|
|1957||Fuchs/Hilary||3,472km/2158 miles||99||35km/22 miles||Vehicles|
|3,600km/2237 miles||67||54km/33 miles||Motorised sledges supported|
|1984||Swan/Mear/Wood||1,421km/883 miles||70||20km/13 miles||Manhauled unsupported|
|1989||Messner/Fuchs||2,800km/1740 miles||92||30km/19 miles||Manhauled supported|
|1992||Fiennes/Stroud||2,375km/1425miles||95||25km/15 miles||Manhauled unsupported|
|1996||One Step Beyond||1,657km/1030 miles||38||44km/27 miles||kite sailed supported|
The "deadmans" system that we provide, and very strongly recommend, proved itself time and again allowing the Explorers to recover from falls unscathed. It works by collapsing the canopy when the handles are released. However control and connection with the parafoil is not lost, it can then be easily recovered.
The safest and steadiest progress comes from intelligent rig selection and speed control. In fact with the high traction speeds possible its sometimes hard for the Pilots to avoid being seduced into going too fast. Crispin Day found that a steady 7-12km pace was the least stress full and most reliable, (but least exciting!) He reported that he very rarely rolled the sledge over, in comparison to his dashing companions.
The team used custom built SPIDER harnesses. These were developed specially for both para towing and manhauling. The design criteria meant that these harnesses had to fit the Explorers when they were stripped down to the minimum - for manhauling, and wearing their full outer clothing - for kite sailing. They therefore needed a very wide fitting range.
Because of the great heat generated by manhauling the Explorers often strip down to their underclothing, in order to avoid perspiration freezing on the inside surfaces, where it would bind their skin to the cloth. Since kite sailing requires less exertion and there is a wind induced by the Pilot's movement, greater thicknesses of clothing are needed. Some of our original concerns about circulation to the fingers proved to be groundless, since the hands are relatively active and not held above heart level.
FORWARD with Fiennes
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"BIG BOY" MODULUS for sledge towing