Breaking the Spine

Breaking the Spine.
The Montane Spine Race 2014.
‘…..I’m 220 miles into the Spine Race, it’s dark and the cold is penetrating my damp clothes. I’m alone in Kielder forest, its deathly silent and my world consists of the pool of white light from my head torch. I stand ankle-deep in the never ending sodden marshes, stooped over, resting my forehead on my walking poles, tears are welling up in my eyes and waves of despair wash over me. The Spine has broken me.’
Once upon a time, two guys (with a twisted sense of humour) decided to put on a race. Not only did race directors Scott and Phil decide upon using Britain’s longest national trail, (The Pennine Way) as the route they also planned the race to take place in the depths of winter.
And so the Spine Race was born. A 268 mile route starting at Edale in Derbyshire’s Peak District then heading north through the wild, open expanses of the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, the Cheviot Hills and finishing in the Scottish border town of Kirk Yetholm.
Billed as ‘Britain’s most brutal race’ competitors face snow, ice, wind, rain, fog, fifteen hours of darkness a day, self-navigation, sleep deprivation, mental and physical fatigue. In 2014, 75 competitors (vetted for their ultra marathon and navigation experience) stepped up to the mark at the start in Edale, 45 would fail to finish.
I suppose it was the epic weather conditions of the 2013 Spine race that really grabbed my attention. Heavy snow blizzards in the final stages of the race caught several competitors exposed in the Cheviot Hills, they found sanctuary in the two remote mountain refuge huts in the nick of time and by their own admission they ‘realised how close they had come to disaster’.
With my appetite for a challenge well and truly whetted I entered the 2014 race and spent the following months researching the event by reading every Spine race report and blog I could find. My training involved a lot of fast walking and load carrying as well as sharpening up my navigation skills and becoming familiar with the GPS unit which every racer had to carry.
Fast-forward to January 10th, 2014. The evening before the race we gathered in Edale village hall where we sat through a series of ‘mini lectures’ regarding the route, the importance of looking after each other, the dangers and prevention of hypothermia and the use of the gps tracker devices which would be fitted to our backpacks. The trackers were fitted with an emergency button which would alert the emergency services and race support team if we got into trouble. We hoped we would never have to use them.
Saturday 11th, January. Race day! Its 6.30am at the village hall and everyone is having their kit checked by the marshals and completing any ‘I sign my life away’ type paperwork.
Race director, Scott gives us the latest weather forecast; dry with a 70% chance of good visibility on high ground…..hmmmm, more on that later!
We move outside where Ash (who will be supporting me during the race) and I chat to Jon Kisler, another Sunderland Stroller who is taking on the Spine. As we kill time waiting for the race to start the first big splashes of rain begins to fall just as the feint sun begins to show itself above the distant hills. At this point I’m undecided about whether to pull on my waterproof over trousers, in the end I put my trust in Scott’s weather forecast and opt not to wear them.
8.22am…..and we’re off. The fast guys at the front are away and running. Jon and myself decide to adopt my standard ultra race approach that is….’start easy, and then slow down’. As we leave Edale and break out onto the open fell we are well and truly at the back. Twenty minutes later I’ve stopped. The big drops of rain that began falling earlier are now falling as big flakes of snow being driven by gusty winds. I find a bit of shelter behind a dry stone wall and put on my waterproof trousers. As I get moving again I pass several other racers seeking what shelter they can as they pull on extra layers. The Spine race is beginning to show its teeth.
As we begin the first climb of the route up Jacob’s Ladder I take off my hat and gloves and loosen off my jacket. I don’t want to be sweating while working hard on the climbs as wet clothing won’t keep me warm when I reach the high, exposed ground of the Peak district.
The racers are still grouped fairly close as we reach the heights of the Kinder Scout plateau. The route meanders through snow, rock and soft peat as the cloud comes down reducing visibility to about 20 metres. I pull my hood cords tight as the wind continues to drive snow from our west. As I reach the bottom of a steep descent I see two of the guys helping another racer who has badly twisted his knee after slipping on greasy rocks.

The snow begins to ease off as we cross the Snake Pass road which is where I bump into Jon again. We make good progress considering the route takes us through bogs and streams. Descending to Torside reservoir I slip on the steep, muddy path and hit the ground with a thud, this will be the first of many tumbles throughout the week.
At the reservoir Ash is waiting by the roadside with hot soup and tea. Suitably refreshed Jon and I press on but the twenty minute stop has caused our body temperatures to drop and our hands have become numb with cold so we increase our pace to raise body heat. Very soon the warm blood comes back into our fingers causing unbelievable pain.

Continuing over Black Hill and the light is fading and the temperature is dropping. We put on head torches as frost begins to form on our jackets and backpacks. The path alternates between peat tracks and slabs, (much of the Pennine Way has been paved with rock slabs to prevent erosion to the soft peat and provide dry passage across marshland, however when these slabs are wet or covered in ice they are treacherous). As I opt not to walk on the now iced slabs I find myself stumbling on tussock grass, sinking into bog or slipping on the peat!

After what seems like an eternity we reach the A635 road crossing where again Ash is waiting in the car with very welcome hot food and drinks. After putting on dry socks and dry base layer we move off into the chilly darkness once more.
Several miles of rock, mud and ice followed as we crossed Wessendon and Bleagate moors and it was at the A672 road crossing where Steve Foster was waiting in the lay-by, a quick chat, a photo and good luck wishes and we were off into the darkness once more over the moonlit, rock-strewn Blackstone Edge with the orange, cityscape glow of Yorkshire’s towns away to our left.

It was on our way into Hebden Bridge and the location of the first checkpoint that I first became aware of Jon’s breathing problems. As he inhaled he made a ghastly rasping sound. It didn’t sound good and Jon knew it. As we reached the checkpoint we registered our arrival and Jon sought the opinion of the race doctor.
I went to get something to eat and Jon joined me after seeing the medic. He had been advised not to carry on. Jon reasoned that if he did push on and his condition deteriated on a desolate moor then it wouldn’t be fair to expect me to deal with it. It was a brave, selfless decision. Jon was out of the race.
With just over 40 miles completed and the sun just coming up I left the Hebden Bridge checkpoint and began the 4 mile trek to Widdop reservoir where I had arranged to meet Ash and get some sleep in the car. The weather on this Sunday morning was dry and bright and I enjoyed the peace of the lonely moor and the thought of climbing into a cosy sleeping bag at the support point. When I got there however I was gutted to discover that I had no phone reception. The race rules dictated that if we intended to remain in one place for longer than one hour we had to inform race headquarters. This was for safety reasons, a stationary tracker on race HQ’s computer screen could indicate a racer in distress. I had no option but to arrange to meet Ash at another rendezvous point 6 miles away at Ponden reservoir.
On arriving at Ponden at around about midday I quickly grabbed something to eat before putting on a thick, down jacket and grabbing one hour of sleep in the passenger seat of the car before restocking the snacks in my chest pack and heading back out onto the trail anxious to make the most of the daylight.
I had been moving barely three hours before I was again cloaked in darkness. My plan was to keep moving at a steady pace throughout the night in an attempt to get to Malham where I would sleep again.
Throughout the night I passed through small towns, over open moor, slipped and tumbled down muddy hills, crawled, yes crawled, through a stream under low tree branches and waded calf-deep through mud as heavy rain showers added to my misery. Along the way Ash met me at numerous road-crossings to offer me hot tea and encouragement.
With Malham now only three miles away I thought I was getting close to the next support point and some much needed sleep (I’d only slept for one hour in the past forty at this point). The next three miles to Malham are best described as hellish. With heavy rain falling on already sodden ground every step was in ankle deep mud with several detours around ‘lakes’ that weren’t on any map. I reached the car, threw off my wet clothes and dived into my sleeping bag. Blissful sleep was all too brief. Ash nudged me awake three hours later as the sun was coming up on Monday morning. I had now covered around 70 miles.
Feeling unusually refreshed after such little sleep my pace was good and steady as I climbed past the impressive limestone gorge of Malham cove and on past the ‘run through’ checkpoint at Malham Tarn. My aim today was to get to the Hawes checkpoint by early evening then push on a further few miles before resting. At first things were going well. Conditions underfoot on Fountains Fell were good and I made a speedy descent down into the valley before making short work of the climb and scramble over Pen-Y-Ghent.

The Pennine Way from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes is best described as dull. Endless, steadily rising walled bridleway. I trudged along for what seemed like an absolute age and with six miles to go to Hawes, darkness fell once again. Now it was an endless trudge with nothing to look at! The monotony was lifted as I saw the lights of Ash’s support car in the distance and thirty minutes later I was sitting in the comfy passenger seat getting warmed through and eating soup. A map check and some calculations told me it was going to be nearer midnight when I would get to Hawes then afterwards it would mean a further 8 mile trek before there would be a suitable roadside rest/sleep stop.
Plan B. Get to Hawes, register at the checkpoint. Grab 3 hours sleep in the car then make a 3am. start early Tuesday morning.
On arriving in the Yorkshire village of Hawes (after taking the wrong track off the fell) Ash found me wandering aimlessly round the dark, deserted streets looking for the checkpoint. I registered my arrival in the largely deserted village hall and set about getting cleaned up and putting on dry clothes. Just then another racer walks through the door, stood motionless for twenty seconds then collapsed. The medical team were quick to react and soon had his wet clothes off; put him in a sleeping bag and him sipping warm, sweet tea. This was just a small reminder of the dangerous game we were playing. Had he collapsed thirty minutes earlier on the cold, wet, windswept moor things could have turned out differently.
Also at the checkpoint was Annie Garcia, a familiar face on the ultra-running scene and as tough as they come. One of the medics was busy taping Annie’s feet and Annie told me that she planned to leave the checkpoint in the early hours. I wished her luck then I went to get some sleep in the car. Just over 100 miles now completed.
Beep-beep! Beep-beep! The sound of Ash’s alarm going off at 3am. It seemed like I’d only just closed my eyes and now I have to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag ready to hit the trail again.
With a belly full of hot porridge I leave the still-sleeping town of Hawes and after passing through the hamlet of Hardraw I begin the long steady, torch lit ascent of Great Shunner Fell, the early morning rain turning to sleet, then snow as I climb. Light snow at first, then heavier driven by the wind. The fell side is now covered in a thick, white, wintry blanket. I stop briefly to pull on another layer before continuing up into the falling snow. In the distance I can see the blurred orb of a brilliant white light heading my way. It turns out to be Annie Garcia, she tells me that conditions higher up are really bad and she has decided to turn back. (Annie was one of the Spine racers who were caught in the blizzard of the 2013 race).
I pushed on to the summit of the fell at which point the snow stopped and the wind dropped. The snowy landscape was bathed in beautiful silver moonlight and I had a pleasant descent off the fell.
With the sun now up I was headed over the fells to England’s highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn. On the tops the visibility was poor and brief sleet showers dusted the ground. Ash was waiting at the pub for me and I sat in front of a roaring open fire drinking tea and refuelling on a cheese sandwich. It was very tempting to get comfortable but I had to be sure of making the Middleton-in-Teesdale checkpoint before the 84 hour cut-off time.

I left the Tan Hill and sploshed into the wettest part of the route so far. The way across the knee-deep bog marked by white poles. Determined not to miss the cut-off I adopted a run/walk strategy and after crossing the A66 I calculated that I had enough time in the bank.
Things almost went pear-shaped when the sudden onset of darkness and a navigational error set me back considerably. As I ‘re-found’ the track into Middleton it was a pleasant surprise to meet up with Ash who had been joined by Ken and Karen Maynard, their friendly faces and calming words steadied the ship and I made it to the Middleton checkpoint with forty minutes to spare. I’d now completed 134 miles.
It was at Middleton where we were joined by Dave Hetherington who’d kindly offered his support for a couple of days. And so after being force-fed by Karen we were out into the dark once more with the plan of following the route up the south bank of the River Tees for three miles before a ‘sleep stop’ at the High Force Hotel car park.
Wednesday morning, 3am. I’m being nudged awake again, I’ve had my three hour sleep ration and it’s time to go again. The first thing I notice is the sound of Jill Kisler’s voice; she’s travelled through the night to give me some company over the next few miles. I sit eating porridge and drinking tea as Ash fills my water bottles and Dave laces up my boots then I’m on my way after arranging to meet Jill further up the trail.
For the first half mile I feel tired and weak but the pace soon picks up as I look forward to today’s trekking which will hopefully get me to the Alston checkpoint. I suppose I’d been walking for around 45 minutes when a torchlight appeared out of the gloom. The owner of this torch was a fellow racer. He introduced himself as Edu, from northern Spain. It turned out his GPS had failed and he had been lost for four hours. I told him he could follow me to Dufton where he would get help from the race marshals. It was shortly after this that I met up with Jill and we enjoyed a pleasant couple of miles chatting with Edu tagging along behind. When we reached Langdon Beck Jill had to leave us to return home and so it was me and Edu for the next few miles. It turned out that Edu was very tired and I was constantly stopping waiting for him to catch up. I guided him up the rocky scramble at Cauldron Snout waterfalls which can be a little daunting in the dark. For a mile or so after the falls I regularly checked over my shoulder to make sure he was still there……and then he was gone. I texted Ash to get in touch with race HQ to let them know that Edu was lost somewhere on the moor.
Two hours later I arrived in Dufton and was advised by the race marshal that racers were being ‘grouped’ for safety to traverse the highest point on the course, Cross Fell. As I was the last racer I enquired as to who I would be grouped with!? I assured the marshal I was quite confident of navigating the section and he agreed to let me continue.

After being fed and watered by Dave and Ash I pushed hard on the climb out of Dufton in the hope of clearing this next ‘dangerous’ section before darkness fell. The wind was blowing hard on the tops and the isolation felt quite eerie but I managed to clear the high ground and reach the safety of Greggs Hut just as the light faded.
Greggs Hut is a mountain bothy, a refuge which is manned by marshals during the race. Inside the stove was glowing hot and the guys made me some tea and hot noodles. I chatted for half an hour before stepping out into driving rain and low cloud. Visibility was no more than 3 or 4 metres. After finding the track it was a steady trudge downhill in appalling weather with the rain only easing off just before the village of Garrigill. One hour later I was in the Alston checkpoint. 175 miles covered.
Once registered in the checkpoint I had the luxury of a shower before crawling into my sleeping bag round about midnight, after the usual three hours sleep I was up again. Thursday, 3.30 am. Destination Bellingham, about 40 miles away. After an hour spent faffing around in the mud and dark looking for obscure, overgrown footpaths I was making good progress over muddy fields and before long bumped into Jon and Mel Davies, we chatted briefly and arranged to meet further down the trail. The next hour or so was spent slipping and sliding up and down steep hillsides and progress was painfully slow.
As the sun came up the ground improved and so did my pace. I reached the town of Slaggyford early on where Ash, Jon and Mel were waiting to feed me soup, cakes and tea.
The next few miles were some of the most pleasant of the race, ground conditions were good, the temperature climbed and the sun shined. I took off my waterproof jacket and enjoyed the walk on Maidenway. Things were too good to be true and sure enough as I began crossing Blenkinsop Common the good ground turned once more to bog. Usually ankle-deep, sometimes calf-deep and on a couple of occasions thigh-deep (which I don’t mind admitting the thought of drowning frightened me). I was half-way across this oversized paddling pool when fellow ultra man Dave Coxon came sploshing across to see me. He’d been following my progress on the tracker and turned out to give me some moral support.
As the temperature began to drop I was just coming into Greenhead where the local youth hostel was being used as a support point. I was surrounded by lots of friendly faces here. Ash, Jon, Mel, Dave C, Rachel, Joy and Dicka. I enjoyed the warmth, food and chat but all too soon it was time to move on. I had it firmly in my head that I would be in Bellingham before the end of the day and if I was then I had a good chance of completing the last 50-odd mile and finishing this race.

Only a couple of miles out of Greenhead and once again it was pitch dark as I started the Hadrian’s Wall section, for the first time since the race began lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll. I had feelings of unreality and shadows played tricks on my tired eyes. I tried to do basic time and distance calculations in my head, I couldn’t do this simple maths and I even forgot what I was trying to work out in the first place. I met up with my support at Steel Riggs where I took on strong coffee and put caffeine gels in my chest pack. As I left my support a race photographer blasted away with his flash. With my night vision wrecked I spent the next five minutes wandering blind. This was going to be a long night.
Just before leaving the Wall I stopped to treat a minor foot problem using a piece of duct tape. This turned out to be the only foot problem I had throughout the week.
As I crossed Ridley common through yet more ankle deep bog I placed my left foot on what looked like firm ground… wasn’t. I went in to the top of my thigh and my right knee crashed onto stony ground. The weight of my backpack sent me sprawling and my poles flew into the distance. I struggled to pull my leg out of the bog and rolled onto my back cursing and breathing hard. I lay for a moment in the cold, dark, silent marshes and looked up at the moon. I could swear it was laughing at me.
I pulled myself together and crossed the common into Kielder forest. I marched hard and jogged through endless bogs and tree-lined narrow tracks. If I couldn’t make it to Bellingham by midnight then 50 miles on the last day was beyond, I pushed and pushed through the darkness, checking my GPS showed I was making pitiful progress through this Godforsaken forest, my energy was running out, my time was running out. I came to a halt.
I’m 220 miles into the Spine Race, its dark and the cold is penetrating my damp clothes. I’m alone in Kielder forest, its deathly silent and my world consists of the pool of white light from my head torch. I stand ankle-deep in the never ending sodden marshes, stooped over, resting my forehead on my walking poles, tears are welling up in my eyes and waves of despair wash over me. The Spine has broken me.’
Then through the trees I see a torchlight. I look for a gap in the trees and go towards the light. Then the voice, “Is that you Neil? It’s me, Phil Watson. You’ve got your maths wrong. It’s 40 miles to the finish after Bellingham, not 50.”
My spirits were lifted by yet another friendly face and all of a sudden the remaining mileage was do-able. Phil, Lesley and Ash gave me coffee and food before I carried on with Phil keeping me company for a few miles. I was still determined to get to Bellingham that night but it was around 2am. When fatigue took hold at a rapid rate, my pace slowed to a virtual crawl, my body temperature dropped and I began to shiver. Ash made the decision to stop me there and then. She got me into a sleeping bag in the car and made me eat. I was exhausted. I lay back in the car. In the morning I would phone race HQ and withdraw from the Spine. I fell asleep.
Ash woke me about four hours later; it must have been around 7.30 on the Friday morning because the sky was just beginning to lighten. I felt tired, physically drained and the intention to withdraw still in my head. I thought about all of the good people who’d gave up their time to support me and all of the well-wishers who’d been following me on the tracker. I thought it only right that if I am going to fail then I will fail on my feet and not wrapped in a sleeping bag. I asked Ash for my boots, put them on, shouldered my pack and started to walk.
It took me about an hour to reach Bellingham checkpoint, in the car park fellow racer Andy Hayes told me I could still make the finish as did race director Phil. He advised that if I made Byrness by 5pm then the final 28 miles was very achievable.

I left Bellingham determined to give this my best shot. Good progress was made over Troughend Common where Mal, Sue and Ash where there to provide, food, drink and dry socks, from here the trail took us into Redesdale forest and a very wet 2 km calf-deep section before breaking onto a wide track where I was able to jog the downhill sections, (Paracetamol numbing the knee pain). On approaching Byrness I was met by yet more Stroller support, Kev and Trish O’Neill. I managed to get to Byrness by 4.20pm so 40 minutes ahead of schedule meant I had an odds-on chance of finishing the race.

This was the last time I would have to use my amazing support; next stop would be the finish at Kirk Yetholm. I set off into the Cheviot hills as the light was fading on Friday evening and after a long detour to avoid a chest-deep ‘super bog’ I was in total darkness as I tried to regain the Pennine Way path. Navigating this section was tricky as the path which was sometimes no more than a faint trod twisted and turned across the hillside. It was at the first refuge hut when I saw a torchlight in the distance, I’d been told that Ken would be coming to keep me company for a few miles and I guessed this was him. We chatted as we continued for the next few miles (and Ken sniggered when I slipped off a slab into the bog). As we began the climb up to Windy Ghyll the local mountain rescue were out checking that we were ok. They seemed happy with my state but asked me to look out for Javed, a racer in front who was struggling badly. At this point Ken wished me well and returned to his car at Barrowburn.
I carried on to Windy Ghyll summit then continued on the never ending slab path. Eventually the slabs ran out and I made my way up some steep difficult ground in low cloud. That’s when I heard the sound of the helicopter. I thought, ‘That’s close. That’s very close’. It turns out that Javed in his state of fatigue had hit the emergency button on his tracker before getting into his bivvy bag and awaiting rescue. The helicopter couldn’t land because of the low cloud but the mountain rescue team safely got Javed off the hill a few hours later.
Shortly after the helicopter had left another racer, Matt, caught me up. He was as shattered as I was. We pushed on to the second refuge hut together where I brewed up coffee and ate every last bit of chocolate I could find. I have to confess at this point I didn’t care if I finished the race or not. I was running on empty.
A phone call from Ash changed all that as she announced that Jon, Mel and herself were coming up the track to meet us. Matt and I pulled on extra layers and stepped out of the hut to finish the race. The final miles into Kirk Yetholm felt like the longest. Everything began to ache all at once.
In traditional style I touched the pub wall to signal the end of the Pennine Way. I had made it with forty minutes to spare. It had been close but I’d done it. 6 days, 23 hours, 20 minutes. 268 miles.
I’d broken The Spine.
Neil Bennett.

Kit Review and Comments.

Compulsory Kit.
1.Backpack; OMM Classic Marathon 32L. Everything fitted in with room to spare. Comfortable to carry, no issues with straps rubbing etc. A bit of abrasion damage to the mesh bottle holder pockets from squeezing through narrow styles and gates.
2. Map/compass; Harvey’s 1:40,000 waterproof Pennine Way maps and Silva Explorer baseplate compass.
3. Whistle; attached to backpack chest strap.
4. Knife/multi-tool; Victorinox Swiss army knife.
5. Head torch; Petzl Myo XP and Duracell lithium batteries. Gave ample light on mid-setting and would easily last the night (15 hours) on the same set of batteries.
6. Waterproof jacket; Montane Superfly. eVent jacket coped with everything thrown at it, ‘breathed’ well and was durable enough to stand up to several falls.
7. Waterproof trousers; Montane Atomic DT. Wore these throughout the event. Lightweight and durable.
8. Hat, gloves and spare socks. Rab merino beanie, Rab powerstretch gloves and Bridgedale merino Trekker socks.
9. Spare baselayer; Adidas running tights and Rab Aeon L/S top. (unused)
10. Survival bag; Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag. (unused)
11. Sleeping bag; Rab Neutrino 200 and Thermolite Reactor Extreme liner. (unused)
12. Tent; Terra Nova Laser Competition 1. (unused)
13. Stove and pan. Coleman F1 and Trangia 0.5L mess tin.
14. Fuel; Jetboil winter mix gas.
15. GPS; Garmin Etrex 20. Gave accurate 6-figure grid references and easily lasted 20+ hours on Duracell lithium batteries.
16. Eye protection; Bloc sunglasses. (unused)
17. Waterbottle; Camelbak 0.5L bottle and bottle adaptor drinks tube.
18. Mobile phone; Samsung £15 (not smart) phone. Only switched on for short periods but easily lasted the week without recharge.
19. Roll mat; Thermarest Prolite small.(unused)
20. Ice grips; Kahtoola microspikes. (unused)

Additional Kit and Comments.

1. Rab Xenon pertex/primaloft insulated hoodie. Warm, windproof, very lightweight, very compressable insulation.
2. Mountain Hardware pertex/primaloft smock. As above.
3. Paramo Mountain Pull-on smock. Very warm and high performance wicking.
4. Rab Vapourise smock. Very warm, high performance wicking.
5. Helly Hansen Dri-fit baselayer. High performance wicking.
6. Bib type fleece long cycling tights. Eliminated any cold spots around the lower back.
7. Rab Stretch-Neo gaiters. My best bit of kit. Kept out 95% of water, bog and mud.
8. Saloman GTX mid-ultra boots. I had two pairs of these which I changed daily.
9. Bridgedale merino Trekker socks. I used these exclusively and had no blisters after 268 miles.
10. OMM Trio map chest pouch. This kept my map handy and I also kept my GPS, torch, spare batteries, snacks, hat and gloves in here. The clear plastic map covering began to crack and split toward the end of the race and the Velcro/press-stud map closure did not perform well when covered in snow and ice.
11. Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles. Invaluable.
12. Extremities windproof, polartec hat, for when the Rab beanie wasn’t enough.
13. Marmot shell mits. Didn’t breathe too well so often ended up wet inside.
14. Sealskinz waterproof gloves. Not very waterproof. Dissapointing.
15. Sealskinz winter mits. Good and warm but they took a lot of drying-out once wet.
16. Woollen Dachstein mits. Warm, breathable and quicker drying than the Sealskinz.
17. Montane Resolute expedition mits. (unused)
18. Lenser P5 hand torch. Back-up torch with a powerful beam.
19. Silva wrist compass. Good for quick reference when orientating map.
20. Hoodies. Montane Fury and Rab Shadow. Both performed very well.
21. Rab powerstretch balaclava. (unused)
22. Chemical type pocket handwarmers (unused)
23. Snacks. Mars bars, Snickers, Twix, Christmas cake, cheese, malt loaf, fig rolls.
24. Drinks additives. O.R.S oral rehydration salts.
25. Mountain Equipment Odin goose down jacket (unused)
26. Insulated drinks mug, with the handle sawn off.
27. Misc. Duct tape, para-cord, Duracell lithium batteries, Exped dry bags.

One thought on “Breaking the Spine”

  1. Great Report . Its always good to read reports from racers who took things to the edge and never gave up.
    Ian Bowles

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