A sled designed for the long, long way down
By Ben Coxworth
April 12, 2011
Swedish adventurer Johan Ernst Nilson definitely has his work cut out for him. On April 6th he began his one-year Pole2Pole trek, in the course of which he intends to travel from the North to South Pole using only carbon-neutral transportation. He has already begun to ski down from the North Pole, with other legs of his journey intended to include travel by dog sled, sailboat, bicycle and kite-assisted sled. Given that his life may depend on everything performing properly, he won't just be using a garden-variety toboggan to haul his gear across the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps – instead, expedition sponsor Audi has made him a one-of-a-kind sled.
The sled, which was designed in collaboration with Norwegian expedition sled-maker Acapulka, is not surprisingly made from carbon fiber. This allows for a combination of low weight, low friction, and durability – the hard and often rough ice surface will definitely present some challenges.
To determine how well the rest of his gear will be able to withstand the subzero temperatures, Nilson tested it in the Audi Cold Chamber and wind tunnel, both of which are designed to test the company's cars in simulated Arctic conditions.
While getting an automaker to design and build a sled may seem an unlikely choice, Audi does have prior experience in a related area – it recently developed a line of high-end carbon fiber downhill skis.
Nilson has previously completed over 100 expeditions in 28 countries.