/ "carrying my broken leg"!
Not me, thankfully!
The effort to do that must have been immense!
I read the Guardian report - it sounded hellish. That has a bit more detail if anyone's interested so here's the link.
He looks a fit and competent bloke and, equally importantly, level-headed. So much depends on staying calm and rational when it all goes wrong. I remember getting disorientated in a cave and the experience of clamping down the rising black dog of panic because I knew that would cause us to make bad decisions.
Absolutely, a strong head game will always help in these sorts of situations. Still blooming hard physically though! I'd like to think I would have the physical and mental strength to get myself out of a similar situation, but I guess we never know until we are unfortunate enough to end up like that.
My wife and I, aged 61 and 63, are about to retire to Scotland where we plan to walk, cycle, swim, ski and paddle about for as long as we possibly can into old age. We are both experienced outdoors types who are not too proud to retreat but we recognise that as we become older a slip or trip in a remote place becomes more and more likely so we must be prepared for it; which means carrying basic safety equipment and being able to survive until help arrives. Rucsacs will be permanently packed with torches, bivvy bags, first aid and energy bars and we will investigate means of communicating other than just cellphones, if such a thing exists for private citizens.
> we will investigate means of communicating other than just cellphones, if such a thing exists for private citizens.
Iridium satellite handset - not too pricey but the prepaid sims are exorbitant and expire every 3 months...
PLBs make a lot of sense in the scenario you describe (distress message without phone signal):
A SPOT tracker is an option. You can send 3 pre programmed messages to family and friends and one to "International Rescue"
Or SPOT X
Just seen that they now have monthly subscriptions - gonna check that out.
I have, "This is where I've started my walk" "I've now finished and on my way to Pub/Cafe" and "I'm OK but hurt, could you call Police/MR to come and assist me at this location"
> He looks a fit and competent bloke and, equally importantly, level-headed. So much depends on staying calm and rational when it all goes wrong. I remember getting disorientated in a cave and the experience of clamping down the rising black dog of panic because I knew that would cause us to make bad decisions.
Interestingly, panic vs pain are not always the same thing...I have quite a high endurance level and pain threshold (which I think would probably get me through something like that, not that it'd be much fun) but am far, far less good at staving off panic in situations where I don't have any idea what to do (e.g. if I'm above the last bit of gear, can't find any more and don't like the move)...
 Having said that, a broken finger a while back whacked me right into quite nasty shock (not even because it was painful, because it wasn't particularly), which doesn't always pan out as you expect...
That's a proper 'there but for the grace of his noodly goodness* go I' story. Slip, fall, phone knackered, wrist knackered, leg knackered, get crawling; could so easily have been any of us, albeit in different situations.
The 'legs are heavy' comment struck a chord. I have MS, which amongst other things affects the function of my right leg. On bad days I just don't go out. On good days, I might - might - get away with it. But then, I might not. The last time I was walking in the Lakes i and a companion walked up Place Fell from Patterdale one bright November day. All was well, if slow, going up. Heading down, less so as my right leg wasn't lifting or moving as it should; and I greeted our arrival near the lakeside path by slipping and uncontrollably sliding on my arse down thirty feet or so of rough ground to stop with something of a crump by the path itself.
After a brief interlude checking that everything that should have been attached was still, and raising blood sugar levels with a snack, we set out to walk round the lakeside path to Patterdale. It's an easy walk, pleasant, nice views, if it wasn't for the tree roots it'd be a hands-in-pockets stroll and with them it still wouldn't take you much above an hour, if that.
I took rather longer as my right leg was essentially just so much dead meat. My companion offered to carry some of the stuff from my rucksack but in truth, there wasn't much left in it. He suggested at one point that we considered calling mountain rescue - there was an obvious reading between-the-lines comment here that he didn't think I could do it - but I wouldn't have it; I'd got myself into that mess, I was going to get myself out of it. And, slowly, I did. I'm pretty sure I tripped over every tree root there was and my progress was measured in oaths-per-ten-metres; walking poles were only a little use as I frequently had to get both hands round my leg and put it where I wanted it to be, and when I wasn't doing that I was leaning my upper body over to the left and using a kind of pelvis rotation to swing my leg around in an arc; and evening had long since turned into headtorch darkness before we reached the relative billiard-table smoothness of the path west from the farm across the foot of the lake back to Patterdale.
Legs are heavy. I was grateful for the all-things-considered relative ease of the terrain I'd traversed at such a slow pace; I can't tell you exactly how long it took me as I was deliberately not looking at my watch, but something over three hours would be my guess. I wouldn't have wanted to try that on rougher ground and the memory of it has certainly made me more cautious in my subsequent route choices.
And that was without fractures to my leg and wrist. Respect to the chap that got himself out of what he'd got himself into in the news story above.
* Other deities are available.
Spot 3, Spot X or Garmin InReach Mini - all subscription based, all satellite based (Garmin has quite the better coverage). Invaluable for out of cell phone range places. All can relay your position back home to your contacts, and you can initiate SOS call through them. Or en EPIRB beacon (no subscription, just upfront more expensive). But the former are somewhat better in that you can "text"* your contacts through the satellite even for less than SOS emergencies (* - the Spot 3 is one-way only, thus you can send few predefined messages or initiate SOS but they can't text you back). I carry the Spot for solo through-hikes and such in the mountains, but will be probably upgrading to InReach Mini as soon as my funds allow. Almost used my Spot 3 for SOS with a group this summer in somewhat remote Balkan mountains (in the end, we were able to evac the injury ourselves, as it was in a country with no mountain SAR service at all, and the Spot 3 being one-way and as the injury has been finally assessed as "barely but walking injured" it was easier than possibly a long wait without knowing if any SAR comes or not). But I was still glad I had it with me (even though the both-way communication Spot X or InReach would have been better).
If you are in need of such a device, I would suggest the Garmin InReach Mini, it's got better coverage than Spot X and is more reliable (different and technically better sat. network), or an EPIRB beacon (these are SOS only, means you activate them in a life threatening situation and it broadcasts your location to SAR services, but you can't communicate through them). All but the EPIRB can transmit your location back home to relatives continously as you go (like every 10 minutes), which is quite good for their peace of mind, the PLB/EPIRB only transmit your location once you activate it directly to SAR services. If the guy in the article had an EPIRB or one of the other devices, he would have been very possibly found much earlier...
Just be prepared, apart from the EPIRB, all the sat communicators require a monthly (or just for the month you go out) or yearly subscription. Sats don't come cheap, unfortunately. Still much cheaper than a full sat phone - the subscription plans are about 12 to 25€ monthly (the flexible options for activating it only for a few months - e.g. during the summer and leaving it off the rest of the year - tend to be slightly more expensive plus all require around 25€ yearly "activation" fee).
For purely "rescue me" functionality, the Ocean Signal PLB1 is one the best devices on the market right now.
One way SOS signal only (no text messages) but stronger signal strength and better coverage than Spot devices, much cheaper than Garmin, no subscription charges and a seven year battery life. Assuming you retire it after seven years the one-off £180 purchase price equates to £25 per year...
I've got zero desire to send text messages from the backcountry or update others on my whereabouts. I just want something in the bottom of my pack that might give me a chance of rescue in scenarios like the broken leg in the OP.
I currently carry a ResQLink but will likely replace it with the Ocean Signal when the battery warranty expires next month...
“I had medication. I had painkillers – Panadol and Nurofen in my pack. And I was able to put that to great use when it was needed. People in the club ask, ‘Why would you carry 10 kilos of equipment every time you go for a walk?’ This is the reason why. It’s good to have it.”
Ahhh, sweet vindication of every time someone picks up my normal rucsac and says "Jeesus, what have you got in there!"
Whenever I read stories like this I think about the chap who got the air ambulance from Hobson Moor quarry for a broken ankle .
+1 for the Garmin InReach Mini - 100g of safety right there.
The unit cost is more than the SPOT, but the usage plan is suspendable on a month-by-month basis, and it has better coverage than SPOT. 20 day battery life with updates every 30m, or 50h with 10m updates. Phone pairing.
I use the Freedom Plan, unlimited track points, live tracking if you want it, messages to loved ones, SOS clearly. Luckily for me the one time I needed it I also had radio and phone communication working, so it wasn't required. Phew.
Search for "inreach review" and there are plenty - DC Rainmaker's was the one that persuaded me.
This is really useful information, thanks everybody.
Obviously an EPIRB is worldwide but do all the other devices work anywhere or are they confined to the UK?
Both work worldwide (but limited in case of the Spot)
Garmin has the better coverage worldwide, as they use Iridium sat network - sats moving in low earth orbit. That means that even in a steep valley with limited view of the sky, every once in a while a sat passes overhead (they orbit the earth every 100 minutes or so).
Spot uses the Thuraya network (AFAIK), which are sats in geostationery orbit, fixed over one spot. That means not the whole world is covered, and there can be problems with reception in places with limited view to the fixed sats in the sky (like a steep valley or such). Their coverage is here: https://www.findmespot.eu/en/index.php?cid=108
That's good enough for walking in Scotland!
Lake District-based runner Kim Collison has set a new speed record on the Bob Graham Round in winter. Kim completed the round in just 15 hours 47 minutes, knocking a big chunk from the previous fastest winter time of 18:18 set by Jim Mann in 2013.