Tom Hollins has ended his attempt. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tom Hollins has ended his attempt. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

One of the two athletes attempting a winter Wainwrights round has pulled out of his challenge.

Tom Hollins ended his run in the early hours of Sunday in the far eastern fells, having battled deep snow and high winds.

James Gibson, who set off an hour after Hollins began his attempt on Wednesday, is continuing his quest to post the first continuous round of all 214 Wainwright peaks in winter.

Hospital anaesthetist Hollins said as well as battling severe conditions on the hills his support team faced difficulties reaching rendezvous points in the wake of Storm Arwen.

Writing on social media, he paid tribute to the runners who joined him on the mountains. He said: “On the fell, every runner except me seemed to have a suitcase strapped to their back.

“No nice little race vests with the small number of items needed neatly available at the front but instead big heavy packs which had to be taken on and off every time the diva wanted a change of gloves or ‘not those nuts, the other nuts’.

“Take a pack off when the person next to you walks on and you have quite a run to get back to them. Add to this that while they are merrily constantly asking for things to keep their temperature just right you are constantly running back and forth and are getting really sweaty at the lower levels and colder higher up.

“Eating and drinking yourself is a luxury. And your fingers are always freezing as your own gloves are on and off to get things out of your pack.

“Several runners had to physically form a wind break in the later stages so that I got less of a battering.

“You would have thought that the experiences above would have made people pretty miserable. But all I got was constant smiles and support and care. I could feel the lift of every single person wanting me to succeed, despite them being in adverse conditions themselves and putting themselves through extra adversity for me.

“On my side I tried to say thank you every time but I am sure I was also focused on the task in hand. Thank you to those who reminded me to lift my eyes to the surroundings. So many beautiful things to see even with 15 hours of darkness each day.”

The Yorkshire-based runner summited 122 fells before calling a halt at Mardale Head shortly after midnight on Saturday night – Sunday morning.

Hollins said encountering deep snow was exhausting and was one of the reasons for ending his challenge, especially with more snow forecast.

He said he had had an amazing few days.

Hollins already has a Wainwrights round under his belt, having completed the 512km (318-mile) run with 36,000m of ascent, in May this year. His time of 6 days 21hrs 33mins 8secs was set during unseasonably brutal weather.

He paid tribute to fellow Wainwrights challenger James Gibson. “James is a local mountain leader and may have skills that I do not,” he said. “He is now past the point where I left the route. I was inspired by that. If he finishes it will be a truly amazing achievement.”

At the time of writing, Gibson had ticked off 142 Wainwright summits and was heading for Place Fell before tackling the Helvellyn range and the Dodds.

The challenge involves completing all the peaks described by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

Sabrina Verjee holds the record for a solo continuous Wainwrights round, with a time of 5 days 23hrs 49mins 12secs, set in June. Long-distance expert John Kelly abandoned his attempt on the record the following month.

Gibson’s progress can be followed on the Open Tracking website.

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