Siberian Black Ice Race 2010

Something that Men do!

Key Stats for the Race


Blackmarston School

The race is in association with the Blackmarston School for children with special needs, such as autism. I'm looking to raise money for them to provide children with horse riding lessons and equipment for a new building

Race Location: Lake Baikal

The oldest at 30 million years and deepest lake in the world, frozen over in the winter with some nice black ice to trek on

Polar Clothing from Brenig

Tough Clothing, comes with a Coyote

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fly out tomorrow March 15th

Tomorrow I fly out to Irkutsk where we'll stay for a night and then it should all kick off around March 17th 3PM. The link to the right of watching via GPS tracking allows you to follow my current location.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Synthetic or Down Sleeping Bag?

A bullshit question and no one really knows the actual technical answer, so the answer is it really doesn't fucking matter just fucking buy one, it's a sleeping bag, as long as its the right temperature rating. If you want more info then from an overview after reading a lot i'd say ignore all other general articles on the internet apart from mine, so...:

  • Synthetic and down can be just as warm, however for every gram of weight, down is more efficient, meaning a down might be 2.5kg but a synthetic that handles the same temperature rating would be 3.0 or more.
  • Down and synthetic are just as good despite down costing double more
  • There isn't much difference
  • I'd day that Synthetic can handle more moisture and wetter environments better, probably 30% i'd say, this figure comes from ignoring all the bullshit statements on the internet
  • In the mornings on an expedition you're supposed to dry out a down bag much more, and they're harder to dry out, in this respect synthetic is less hassle for this
  • Down and synthetic won't last a life time. This is because the more you pack them down and the more you wash them the less efficient they become
  • The temperature ratings in Europe, a new regulation, is bull shit and doesn't really mean anything, don't take them seriously, I am being serious. it's a bit like the MP3 player in Europe having to be default shipped with a volume limitation to the extent that you can't hear anything from it, it's pointless and a joke. From what I read you should take the lower temperature limit specified as the best guide, everything else is bollocks, rather like the EU.

What did I buy?

I bought a Synthetic Ajungilak Tyin 5 Season with also a Brenig Pile/Pertex outer cover to add additional warmth and prevent moisture build up.

Why did I buy Synthetic and not Down?

Lake Baikal is very humid so there will be a lot of moisture buildup, I wanted an easier time with moisture and my sleeping bag, it's also cheaper. Moisture handling was my main reason.

Why did I buy that sleeping bag brand apposed to others?
The price was reasonable, someone I knew recommended the brand, and I spoke with Graham at Brenig and he has a lot of experience speaking with people about this sort of equipment so I valued his opinion. PHD Designs, Mountain Designs/hardware etc would be good also.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Track me LIVE during the race!

Either click here on this link to view the tracking page in full of view a snippet below!

Tips on getting the right equipment

When I started researching this stuff I found a load of crap on the internet, one person saying one thing, someone else saying another. Overall I think it's all a bit of a joke. If you think about it, what did all the real explorers use, natural gloves from animal skins, free no doubt etc etc?! The basic and shittest equipment of today's standards of health and safety would be good enough, it might just make a few things a little more difficult in some respects. If you don't have much money you could do it really cheaply, such as getting basic snow googles and not paying £150, they're just fu**ing goggles that look cooler, but like I said it will make things a little more difficult for you. You could even get a block of wood with straps on, put a slit through it and wear it, that would cost nothing and stop you getting snow blindness, probably an Inuit design, and they wouldn't fog up every 5 minutes, despite googles being 'anti-fog' none of them are. I've been lucky as I have some money aside so I bought everything I needed that was recommended just to make my life easier you know, but in reality you don't need all this bullshit, as Scott and other people have proved,..however Scott did die I think but from lack of food, I forget, that's a separate issue.

Should you rent or just buy the equipment, like sleeping bags and tents? The cost of a Hilleberg Tent is probably around £550 and the sleeping bag you'll probably pay 300/350 minimum. What you need to know if you rent is that the time you actually use the equipment might be around 2 weeks like me, but in reality you have to rent it for 3 weeks plus to account for travel etc, which means you'd pay a lot more. Also take into account that something may well get damaged, therefore you'll lose some of your deposit. The most expensive thing I found was all the small things added up the most, like dry bags etc etc, you can't rent them as they cost like £30 so what's the point, so my point is that there's little point renting when you can't rent most things and the expensive individual things cost a lot but in a way you're losing out by renting. I think renting is bullshit myself and pointless, go and get some quotes and you'll see what I mean. Almost everything individually that you mainly need will cost £10 here or £30 there etc etc.

Generally I found the following documents/pages online the best for evaluating and reviewing equipment to therefore come to my own logical conclusion about what to buy, bear in mind I didn't chose the most expensive equipment, but I generally found cool intuitive things to be more expensive.

This give equipment lists for the North Pole trips:

This is Brenig, they sell cold weather stuff as good as other manufactures with the added benefit being that they will redesign anything for you for the same price and if you have an idea they'll happily go and make it for you:

This is some guy' equipment list when he did his trip:

SnowSled to pulks and things. The pulk is a good price but other things can be overpriced for what they are. I would just buy the pulk and the straps, the rest ask Brenig to make. Example being, a plywood baseboard from SnowSled costs £25, it's just a piece of shitty plywood and doesn't make sense...other than that though they are really helpful and nice guys:

These guys are a re-seller for an Italian company, they sell screw in ice studs for traction on frozen ice, for feet or anything:

This is a sample and good equipment list for a cold weather ultra-marathon race:

Another sample North Pole equipment list:

Pitching a Tent on Frozen Ice

Have you tried Googling how to do this? Don't bother because all you'll get is bullshit. I've emailed and spoke with about 10 people on this. Some people who have been there say to use metal tough pegs and hammer them in, no need for ice screws, some say it won't work without them, and no one says exactly how to attach ice screws. Someone has got to be wrong. Aparently there's a V shaped design called an Abalakov V-thread which originates from climbing. If you use this for say 6 of the guy lines from the tent then that means screwing in two ice scews really for each line, so screwing a total of 12 holes total, just to aparently hold then tent down. I think this is a load of shit and to be expected to do this it would take ages, not to mention putting loops through carabiners and hooking it into the V thread created from the ice screws. I'd probably get frostbite by the time I finish. I've got better things to do personally.

What am I going to do?

I've bought x4 Black Diamond 10cm Express Ice Screws, x8 Titanium Nail Pegs with Cords pre-looped, x3 MSR Blizzard Snow Stakes, and the Y-Pegs supplied by Hilleberg.

For Snow:

I'll use the x3 MSR Blizzard Snow Stakes, along with my trekking poles, Ice Axe, Shovel and Y pegs to hold the tent down, and obviously i'll use my shovel to chuck snow around the side of the tent, with the general rule of the back of the tent positioned directly so that it takes the brunt of the wind.

For pure Ice, which most of it will be:

I'll use x4 Black Diamond Ice Screws at the front/back of the tent guy lines and one on each side of the guy lines. So these ice screws will be a permanent fixture i'm not going to drill V shaped thread holes. Google 'Abalakov V-thread' to understand what i'm saying. With these i'll attach a carabiners to the ice screws and then hook on the tent rope originating from the Hilleberg tent. This is to make sure I don't break any of the tent cord. For the other 2 guy lines,the  2 either side of the tent, I'll use Titanium Nail Pegs with small carabiners attached, thus attached to the tent looped guy lines. Then for then remaining side ground loops for the tent i'll use remaining Titanium Nails along with Y Pegs and also maybe chuck in my ice axe in the also, and whatever else I can find as a backup. I think the above is a good overall settlement to account for harsh conditions and saving time.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

GPS Tracking

Just took delivery of a SPOT GPS Tracker. It will track my race location in pretty much real-time.

(More info found here on this device

To track me you can view this link, it will show via a map and constantly update throughout the trip:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Pulk Packing

I've started packing up my pulk sled (which I bought from, everything on my equipment list post on this blog will go into it. 

So I have my blue pulk, as shown in the picture below, on that there's basically two Ortlieb waterproof bags side by side left-right, on top of that goes my foam roll mattress and what will go my tent when it turns up.

I ended up packing it in my logical mind of easy of use and safety etc. I bought a 109 Ltr Ortlieb bag and a 59 Ltr one also, both are very durable and waterproof, I got these instead of a pulk outer bag as it was cheaper. The point of having these two is so that worst case scenario fuel does not leak anywhere onto clothes or food. Examples are, if fuel gets on my down jacket it will basically ruin it, plus is fuel gets on you skin it will cause frostbite very quickly.

Inside these two Ortlieb bags I have a total x4 custom Dry Sacks from the company SnowSled, and within all of these I have multiple (about 10) Exped Dry Bags which are pretty much waterproof varying in sizes but not very durable. Everything is compartmentalized into these, down to 3 levels and using as many bags as I could so that I know what is exactly what and can for example, pick up my green Exped dry bag because I know that will have my tools/spare equipment in such as paracord, a service kit for my stove etc etc. Also down to this many levels to prevent moisture, water and cold getting into, for example, my down sleeping bag.

Anyway here is the order or packing, briefly: 

Ortlieb 109 Ltr
  • Stuff Sack 1: Food, spare clothing
  • Stuff Sack 2: Cooking equipment
  • Stuff Sack 3: Sleeping Bag, down jacket

Ortlieb 59 Ltr
  • Stuff Sack 4: Any equipment involving fuel, and any miscellaneous type equipment

I quickly weighed the bags and the pulk, i'm still missing the tent and sleeping bag, right now it weighs 18.5 KG, but I think with the tent, sleeping bag and fuel it will be 25KG. I don't think this is bad and pretty much standard, it will be easier pulling the pulk on black ice rather than deep snow, the wind will most likely make it difficult blowing the pulk into me during gales etc!

Weather Report

I managed to get hold of more information from a local out near the ice of this race. Apparently Lake Baikal has this has a strange winter, in that the ice has only just started freezing over. This year especially is more serious because with the above, the lake basin is situated on a highly seismic active area, meaning large waves of water under the ice breaking. To compound this problem snow will fall on some of these areas meaning that if you trek through snow, you won't know if you're going to fall into the ice water. To add to this there's obviously the hurricane strong winds to have some fun with. Good times. Last week it was below -35degrees Celsius, I think today is -10 on a clear sunny day.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Norway Training

Last week I went to Hjerkinn, Norway for some training with other people doing the Siberian Race and also the North Pole race. The training was split up into the following:

  • Classroom training: This included mainly safety regarding frostbite and hypothermia being top of the list, including some nice pictures of people with it
  • Expedition: Cross Country Skiing through the mountains with a load of snow and ice
  • Ice Break Drill: A nice fall with skis into freezing cold water under the ice. 
The video of the Ice break is here, it will skip directly to me going in, mine is a bit boring so i'd suggest watching it from the start as some people scream and look more stupid:

A couple of pictures below:

  • Some of us getting ready to take up our tents

  • Me with my pulk and my toasty polar jacket, with a coyote in the hood obviously:

  • This is Gary being the first guy into the Ice Pool, fun. I went in after also and within a week or so I'll upload a video of me looking like an idiot:

  • Another picture of the Ice Break setup after they'd pulled out the chainsaw to cut through the ice!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Some photos!

Couple off photos with my polar jacket and over that the blue expedition down jacket for when things get tough

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Brochure Doco

Charity Fundraising

Blackmarston School
The school is for children with disabilities and special needs, for problems such as autism. The school website can be found in this link here for more information also

What am I asking for?

For individuals and all companies a donation where possible (even £1!) to Herefordshire's Blackmarston School for disabled children ( For companies specifically I can add corporate logs on equipment and clothing for advertising promotion. If you wish to make a donation, please follow the donation button to the right of the page, email or call me no problem.

    How can I promote your business?
    • Wearing corporate logos on equipment through the race and training
    • Promote your company on my blog and through the Extreme World Races Blog
    • The race is an event attended by celebrities and media attentive companies, filmed and documented in a television production

    Kit List

    Basically I haven't had enough time to set up meetings and things, to try and get blood out of a stone from companies and making pitches so I've done most things myself and paid for everything. After a stupid amount of time Googling, YouTube and research I can give my kit list so far after placing my orders and detail what I've learnt.

    I thought originally that the equipment would cost about £2,500 in total and a few other costs such as extra shipping on the plane, but so far I've spent £3,000 on equipment, but other costs also I've had, so I think it will be £4,000 in total, and the race entry costs itself were about £3,000 so that's £7,000 in total. The equipment is a one off cost and i'd hope i'd be able to do the Yukon Ultra race found here! Assuming I like it and have a good time in Baikal!

    First here's a few companies that have been really helpful to me:

    These guys have loads of odds and bods, like flasks, Life Venture equipment, all the little things that add up:
    Graham from Brenig is great, he knows everything about cold clothing with experience and detail on so many expeditions:

    SnowSled are also the only UK company I could find that sell pulks, they're really help.

    • Brenig Custom Polar Jacket with Coyote Hood (£250)
    • Brenig Expedition Duvet Jacket (£220)
    • Brenig Custom Light Polar Salopettes (£180)
    • Brenig Gloves/Mitts (£50)
    • Mountain Equipment Touch Liner Glove (£20)
    • x2 Smartwool Nordic Light Socks Liner (£30)
    • x2 Smartwool Nordic Mountaineering Socks (£40)
    • Bridgedale CoolMax Liner Sock (£15)
    • LOWE Mountain Cap Black Large (£20)
    • Outdoor Research Gorilla Balaclava (£35)
    • Icebreaker Merino Legging 200 (£50)
    • icebreaker Merino 260 Crewe (£30)
    • Icebreaker 200 Boxers (£30)
    • RAB Expendition Down Slippers (£60)
    • Innov8 Roclite 288 GTX Runners (£110)
    • Salomon XA 3D Ultra 2 GoreTex Runners (£100)
    • Non branded neck gaiter (£10)
    • Berghaus Fleece Top (£40)
    • North Face 100 Glacier Pants Fleece (£35)
    • Oakley Splice Goggles (£130)
    • Wrist Warmers (£4)
    • Buff Fleece (£20)
    • Berghaus SnowLine Gaiter (£30)

    • Iridium Satellite Phone (Renting £150)
    • LifeVenture Intensity 80 Head Torch (free)
    • Petzl TacTikka Plus HeadTorch (£35)
    • Garmin GPS eTrek H (£50)
    • x16 Energizer Lithium Ultimate Batteries AA & AAA (£40)
    • SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger (£200)

    Tent & Bedding
    • Mountain Equipment Self-Inflating Mattress (£75)
    • Ajungilak Tyin 5 Season Sleeping Bag (£220)
    • Brenig Sleeping Bag Outer Pile & Pertex (£80)
    • Lifeventure Expedition Towel 120 (£13.20)
    • NATO Roll matt (£15)
    • Hilleberg Nammatj 2 Tent (£550)

    Technical Equipment
    • Bic Lighter
    • Waterproof Matches (£2.50)
    • Gelert Waterproof Pouch Set - Clear, 3 Pc  (£5)
    • x5 DMM ProWire Karabiner (£27.50)
    • Leatherman Juice S2 (£60)
    • Snowsled Hauling Harness (£75)
    • Snowsled Rope (£20)
    • Snowsled Pulk (£70)
    • Brenig Freight Pulk Bag Custom (£95)
    • North Face Duffel Bag (£80)
    • Gorilla Tape (£5)
    • Snowsled Pulk with ropes (£100)
    • Snowsled Dry Bags (£30)
    • x8 Vargo Titanium Nail Pegs (£30)
    • x4 Exped Dry Sacks (£30)
    • x2 Ortlieb Bags (£40)
    • x4 Black Diamond Express Screws 10cm (£120)
    • Standard Funnel (£2)
    • x3 MSR Blizzard Snow Stakes (£20)
    • x1 MSR Fuel Pump (£30)
    • TSL Escape 325 Mens Snow Shoes (£110)
    • x4 Edilrid Micro Carabiners (£12)

    • Lifesystems Solo Traveler First Aid Kit
    • Generic Survival Bivi Bag
    • Coghlan's Waterproof Matches (4 Pk) (£2.50)
    • Ice Axe (Renting £15)
    • Snow Shovel (Renting £10)
    • JMC Insurance

    Rations / Cooking
    • Nalgene 1L Waterbottle (£12.95)
    • Thermos Ultimate 0.8L Flask (£30)
    • Sea-To-Summit AlphaLight Long Handled Spoon (£4.95)
    • MSR XGK-EX Fuel Stove (£120)
    • x2 MSR Fuel Bottles (£30)
    • XGK Expedition Service Kit (£25)
    • x 28 Dry Foods (£120)
    • SiS Go Bars x30 (£20)
    • SiS PSP22 Energy 1600g (£20)
    • Lexan Plastic Camping Bowl (£5)
    • MSR Alpine 1.6L Cooking Pot (£20)
    • x 20 Yorkie's

      About the Race

      The race starts on March 16th 2012 and lasts around 14 days, depending on how long it takes me to finish, I plan on doing it in 10 days though.

      It starts in the Siberian city of Irkutsk and follows into Lake Baikal East of the city. Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest lake in the world and is completely frozen over during the winter and during the race event.

      View Larger Map

      It is said to be more difficult than the famous Marathon des Sables with conditions of up-to -40 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of up-to 200 km/h. During the winter months, including the race, the lake is frozen over and will support both people and vehicles, hopefully.

      Sunday, 20 November 2011

      Race Intro

      I have recently registered to compete in the new Siberian Black Ice Race scheduled for March 16th 2012 and provided by the Extreme World Races company. The race will be a 379 mile solo trek on foot across Lake Baikal, north of Mongolia. The weather will have up-to 200 km/h winds and as low as -40 degrees Celsius. 

      Extreme World Races is a well respected and media attentive company, with previous highlights to include the Top Gear polar challenge and On Thin Ice with Ben Fogle, amongst others. This event is new and will be run for the first time in 2012 undoubtedly with media coverage. The company has great experience working with high profile companies like BBC and many celebrities. I will personally be doing You Tube videos, a blog, a blog on the well promoted Extreme World Races website (as above). I'm also hoping to get a good piece of GPS kit to show live GPS coordinates throughout the race via Google Maps embedded within this Blog.

      So what am I asking for? 
      Any charitable donations to Blackmarston School for disabled children (, via the donations button to the right.
      For companies I can add corporate logos on equipment and clothing for advertising promotion.

      Feel free to contact me on email via, or alternatively my mobile 07961 700063.

      Steve Taylor