(Newsdesk) After the most unfortunate accident by Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo in April 2015, friend, mentor and fellow Polar explorer, Dixie Dansercoer, took it upon him to analyze all aspects of falling through the ice and organize a dry and wet run, he told Explorersweb.
"It gave good insights and forced us to be open to self-criticism, with more work ahead developing new directives that can only be helpful for anyone venturing out on thin ice. I am working closely together with Eric Philips / IPGA."
With the 2016 North Pole season about to start, here goes a summary of Dixie’s analysis of the use and adjustments of the drysuit and skis in ice water conditions:
1. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE DRYSUIT
1.1 Putting the suit on
Figures 1(a) and 1(b): Problem with the transition of the boots through the trousers.
Comparative test with drysuit imposes quick donning: putting on the suit should not take more than 1 to 2 minutes (some drysuits take much longer, the one from Viking takes about 6 minutes). The main problem appears to be the transition of the boots through the sleeves.
- A new material imposing a low coefficient of friction between the fabric of the drysuit and the rubber of the boot is believed to be beneficial.
- More space is likely to be beneficial when putting on the suit as a result of the solid shape of the boot. Once the boot passed through the sleeve, a reduction of space beneficial in an effort to enhance movement. Possible solution could be flexible material or elastic bands within the suit, strategically located.
1.2 The lack of dexterity of the gloves
Figures 2(a) and 2(b): The lack of dexterity of the gloves.
Only one-piece suits (hands and feet included in the suit) do not let water in. This is 100% water proof safe. The current gloves that are attached to the drysuit with a string are gloves that have a lack of dexterity for the user. An advantage is that the zipper of the drysuit is designed so that opening and closing the suit is easy with the clumsy gloves.
- An integrated liner glove to the suit could be beneficial to maintain sufficient dexterity. This would stop the water from entering the suit, but creates no barrier for the cold.
1.3 Drysuit hood
Figure 3: Limited field of view.
The connection of the hood of the drysuit should normally ensure that no water can enter the drysuit. Or that no air inside the drysuit can escape. Even if the drysuit is not designed for flotation it does help the user to float on the water. If the air in the drysuit could be kept longer inside the suit, it would help the user to float longer if he/she falls into the ice water.
Another disadvantage of the current drysuit is that the field of view is limited.
2. INTEGRATION Of DRYSUIT AND SKIS
2.1 Ski binding integrated in the suit
Figure 4: A new type of binding.
Figure 5: Integrated metal in shoes.
A fall in the water in regular polar outfit with skis that cannot be released, poles that dangle off your hands that cannot be taken off and the weight of clothing, will pull you down. On thin ice, it is imperative to wear skis and therefore the drysuit needs to accommodate a system that connects the suit to the binding (R & D for the next couple of months will be executed).
A new type of binding (cfr snowshoes)
- Integrate the metal(?) connection currently used in the tip of ski boots to the drysuit. However, the shoes of the drysuits are believed to be too flexible to incorporate this. In order to answer to this solution the rubber soles of the drysuits will have to be made thicker.
- Add a very simple connection consisting of a slider attached to the drysuit and a loop attached to the skis. This connection is not capable of resisting significant loads. However, since cautious travelling is performed when wearing the suit, this should not be a major problem. This solution demands some detailed hand moves. This is not optimal with polar gloves.
2.2 Quick removal of the ski system
Figure 6(a) and 6(b): Handle to open the ski binding.
Figure 7: Open the ski binding in the water. It is an option to attach the skies with an external rope to the person so they don’t float away.
As our skis all floated during the tests (test yours though), and since they impair movement in the water (especially when the skis are caught under half-broken ice), you need to be able to take them off quickly. This is easy with bindings of the type Salomon SNS or Rotofella NNN, customized with a release rope and handhold, others simply cannot be released.
The rope to activate the skies to come off must be long enough and the handle attached to the rope must be big enough for pulling with polar gloves (see: installed red ball on rope) But that rope and handle must not disturb walking on thin ice when nothing serious is happening. A possible solution is that the handle is fixed to the drysuit.
Problems to solve:
What happens with the skies if the person is dragged under the ice?
2.3 Quick remove of the ski poles
During the observations we could see that the poles float when you fall into the water. You need to take off you poles to take off your skis. Taking off your poles ensures more mobility for the person. The wrist loops of the poles must be quickly removed. The current solution to easily going in or out with big outer mittens during normal use, is by using flexible metal wire attached to the loops with tape.
- The trigger system of the Leki ski poles is a possible solution for this problem.
Check in again to read more about flotation testing and the use of the sled to get out of the water (Part 2 of 3).
Next: Part 2
Next: Part 3
Dixie Dansercoer is a veteran Belgian polar explorer with North Pole and South Pole crossings and Antarctica and Greenland circular routes in the bag among other expeditions.
Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo have presumably drowned on April 29th in the Arctic while on a scientific expedition, researching ice thickness and climate change. They were two experienced polar explorers. Marc is the founder of Cold Facts, an organization doing scientific research in the polar regions supported by the expertise of polar expeditions. Cold Facts encourages and facilitates scientific polar research, including measuring ice thickness or taking samples of snow.
Previous about Dixie Dansercoer
A practical polar handbook by Dixie Dansercoer
Young Gun And Old Rat Drawing A Zen Circle Glacial Roundabout
Antarctica: Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour bag kiting world record
Dixie’s PolarCircles website
Dixie’s PolarExperience website
Previous about Marc and Philip
Marc Cornelissen identified, Philip de Roo remains missing
Marc and Philip update: Recovery team set off
Polar tragedy witness rescued
Arctic Polar skiers presumably drowned; search discontinued - updated (2)
Polar skiers missing on the Arctic Ice