British team break speed record for crossing world’s largest lake
A three-man British expedition team has set a new speed record for an unsupported crossing of the world’s largest lake, Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal
Scott Gilmour, Michael Stevenson and Rob Trigwell covered a distance of 640km (397 miles) in 12 days, 21 hours and 13 minutes, finishing just after 6pm GMT on March 13.
The trio beat the previous record of 13 days and 16 hours, set by Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab in 2010, by 18 hours.
To do so, the three adventurers had to put in a final continuous push of 135km over 42 hours, during which time they slept for just two hours in their bivvy bags.
After completing the challenge,Scott said: “I’m totally knackered, but very happy. I’m very relieved to be finally finished.”
He added: “I had a very tough last couple of days, but I felt inspired and encouraged by my team mates, who helped me through. I’m just proud to have shared this experience with two great team-mates.”
Rob said: “After five years of planning this trip, it’s finally come off. I’m extremely happy to have ticked this one off my list – finally.”
Michael said he felt only relief. He added: “The terrain really saps you. It’s so draining. I want to thank my two team mates, they’re great guys. I can’t wait to get home to see my kids. What’s next? Maybe the South Pole!”
An epic record
The record-breaking coverd an average of 50kms per day. The attempt took place in the highest snowfall in the region since 1969, with temperatures regularly at -35°C and with frequently strong winds.
The team had to navigate around areas of “rubble ice”, as they pulled sledges containing all their equipment and food.
They survived most of the trip with just one working stove, which meant that every night one of them would stay up late melting water for the others, while their team-mates slept. They averaged four hours’ sleep per night over the 12 days.
The team benefitted from expert training in Sweden on a Polar Endurance training package from Weatherised.com, prior to this trip.
Speed record facts
New Lake Baikal speed record: 12 days, 21 hours and 13 minutes
Previous record: 13 days, 16 hours, set in 2010 by Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab.
Distance: Approximately 640km (but actual distance is longer as they had to skirt around sections of ice and other obstacles).
Temperatures: Lowest -35°C, highest -8°C.
Longest day: Their final day was over 78km (48 miles).
Lake Baikal is located in southern Siberia.
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world and thought to contain 22 to 23 per cent of the Earth’s fresh surface water (that’s more water than the North American Great Lakes combined).
It is also also claimed to be the world’s deepest lake.