Our Local Star Ray Zahab Successfully Crosses Death Valley in 53 Hours

Chelsea Quebec Local logo
by The Local
July 5, 2024
Our Local Star Ray Zahab Successfully Crosses Death Valley in 53 Hours
Photo credits:
Jesse Delgrosse
Our local Chelsea star, Ray Zahab, has just achieved an extraordinary feat by successfully crossing Death Valley in 53 hours, 35 minutes, and 21 seconds. From the furthest point north to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, Ray's journey was nothing short of remarkable.

To put how much a successful completion of this project means to me in words in a post is simply too difficult. This adventure has been a focus of mine since last year when I was unable to complete it due to adverse weather conditions and, in retrospect, I probably wasn’t yet recovered from six months of chemo. I spent the last six months completely focused on my training, my gear, and several scouting trips to Death Valley—a place and wilderness I respect so much.

The Preparation

Ray's dedication to this mission was unwavering. Over the past six months, he meticulously prepared himself, focusing on his training, gear, and scouting trips to Death Valley. His buddy Kent Keeler joined him the week before the attempt to scout several areas where they anticipated course changes from previous projects. Despite the thorough preparation, the challenges were immense: extreme heat reaching 123°F at the finish, treacherous terrain, and tricky nighttime navigation. Ray's determination saw him through, as he strategically managed his breaks and hydration, consuming a staggering 75 liters of water over the 53 hours.

The Challenge

Death Valley's unforgiving landscape presented a mix of deep sand, endless boulders, and wet salt. It's a brutal yet beautiful place that demands respect and resilience. Ray's adventure career has taken him across the world's largest deserts and the coldest regions of the planet, but Death Valley stands out as uniquely challenging. Everything had to align perfectly for success, and Ray is deeply grateful that it did. His experience in the desert, alone between resupplies, was a gift—an opportunity to be fully present in the moment, doing what he loves most.

Fun Facts and Local Talent

During the 53 hours and 35 minutes, Ray's sustenance consisted solely of bread, butter, one bowl of powdered pea soup, and over 75 liters of water. This incredible journey was captured by another local talent, Jesse Delgrosse from "The Capital Collective" Studio.

About Ray Zahab

Ray Zahab is a Canadian explorer, ultra-distance runner, and founder of the non-profit impossible2Possible. His accolades include the Meritorious Service Cross of Canada and the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration. He has run over 17,000 km across the world's deserts and completed unsupported expeditions in some of the planet's coldest places.

In 2006, Ray and two friends crossed the Sahara Desert on foot, covering 7,500 km in 111 days. This expedition was documented by National Geographic and highlighted in the film "Running The Sahara," raising awareness for the drinking water crisis in North Africa.

Ray's notable expeditions include running 400 km across Canada's coastal trails in 2007, partnering with the ONExONE Foundation to run 80 km per day across Canada in 2008, and breaking the world speed record for an unsupported team expedition to the Geographic South Pole in 2009. He has also completed solo runs across Lake Baikal, the Atacama Desert, and Namibia. Despite being diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2022, Ray continues to undertake challenging expeditions, including a winter crossing of Baffin Island's Paalik Valley in 2023.

Ray Zahab's recent accolade, the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, is a testament to his incredible achievements and relentless spirit.

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