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Lake Baikal wrap-up: Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab finished their speed attempt

Posted: Mar 17, 2010 03:25 pm EDT

The two Canadians, Ray and Kevin, finished their speed record attempt across Lake Baikal in Siberia. They reported a time of 13 days and 16 hours, which they say, eclipsed the previous fastest time by a week.

The two Czechs are also nearing the end of their expedition in warmer temperatures and on mixed terrain; clear ice and slow snow.

Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab

The guys finished their run across Lake Baikal on March 14. The second last morning Ray and Kevin woke up with sixty-five kilometers to go.

The previous day, March 12, they had a goal of a little over fifty kilometers, but the wind was very strong, Ray said. It was like a hand pushing us back and the snow was so deep at the beginning of our day. They still managed 45 km.

They said they have tried to stay within five to ten kilometers off of the shore and they have taken a few of the extra lines to get photos of interesting places like the shaman rock.

Kevin said that some days they could barely see the other shoreline, and that's just the width of the lake, with these six and seven thousand peaks surrounding us as we move along.

They also experienced the clear ice as it was as if they were walking on water except for the cracks, you looked straight into the abyss below you.

When they had 150 km to go the team reported their fuel supply was nearly finished and the started to sort of ration their fuel and food as they made their final sprint. But they were super psyched to finish.

Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek

The Czech team traveled more than 500 km (301 miles) and were able see the end of Lake Baikal, reported Zuzana Pinova from Vasek and Pavels home team. The mountains around the Nizhneangarsk village have appeared in front of them today [March 17].

The guys said it was only -12°C (10°F) and dead calm so they even took off the jackets and walked in just two layers of woolen shirts. In sharp contrast to the warm days are the nights which have been extremely cold for the last two days. The temperatures fell as low as -30 °C (-22°F).

As for the terrain, it has changed a lot they reported. Sometimes they ski and sometimes they walk. There have been almost no areas with clear ice lately as the ice is covered with a thick layer of snow.

They are well ahead of schedule can afford to eat more as they had food for 35 - 40 days, which they originally estimated to spend on the ice. They guys are averaging 30 km per day.

Pavel said they have been walking close to the shore the past few days; some 10 to 20 km inwards. They watched the spectacular mountains, valleys and deep gulches all day long.

A few days ago Vasek hurt his leg quite bad when they traversed some rough piles of ice. When trying to pull his sleds across the piles of ice, he slipped off an ice block and hurt his leg. Vasek took painkillers and said very step was total suffering. The rest of the day the encountered several more areas with rough ice and the leg got more damaged. Lately he reported that the leg has improved.

Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek started their ski across Lake Baikal in Siberia on February 23. Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab started their speed attempt across Lake Baikal on March 1 and finished on March 14. Both teams started from the small village of Kultuk on the southern side of the lake.

The distance is 650+ km. Ray and Kevin aim to run 60-70 per day.

Links to Lake Baikal teams:
Vasek Sura and Pavel Blazek - Czech Republic
Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab - Canada

#Polar #Stats

Kevin and Ray finished in good spirits with frosted solid sleeping bags, blisters and sunburn. Kevin: Nothing you can do except to deal with that. (click to enlarge)
Image by Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab, SOURCE
Pavel: Before I got in the tent every night, I remain outside for a few minutes watching... well, nothing in particular, just watching whats around me, the sunset or the endless ice... and listening to the silence [] and the cracking of the ice. (click to enlarge)
courtesy Pavel Blazek and Vasek Sura, SOURCE
Vasek: I took an advantage of a relatively warm night and spent some time outside playing with my camera and a headlamp. 400 km done (click to enlarge)
Image by Vasek Sura courtesy Vasek Sura, SOURCE