Todd Carmichael Gears Up For Death Valley!

death valley dunes 2
Todd Carmichael will soon be trading the colds of Antarctica for the heat of Death Valley. In his most recent dispatch he talks about his next project, which will get underway on October 9th, when he will set out to not only traverse Death Valley, but actually cross it twice, mostly just because no one else has ever done so.

In the pre-expedition post, Todd talks about not only going for the DV traverse, but a new solo distance record as well. He discovered that the longest ever self-supported trek was 399.5 miles over 37 days. He means to go 400 miles in just just 18.5 days, and then extend that record another 30 miles just for good measure.

To accomplish this ambitious goal, he’ll need to carry all of his supplies, gear, and water along with him. In total, he expects to take more than 450 pounds of supplies with him on the trek, and to do so, he’s built a special cart to accompany him on the journey. Todd says that he’s on his fourth design of what he calls The Pig, and he now feels it is ready.

He has a route planned out. One that is designed to have a low impact on the environment and avoid roads altogether. He’s now in the final stages of preparation. Physically he is nearly ready to go, and he’s even overcome the monumental task of convincing his wife to let him hit the road once again. Soon, he’ll be off on another adventure, through one of the harshest, hottest, most inhospitable places on the planet. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Good luck Todd. We’ll be following along! 🙂

Kraig Becker

9 thoughts on “Todd Carmichael Gears Up For Death Valley!”

  1. I dunno how the Death Valley terrain or weather conditions to be met there, I'm sure this trip will be very rewarding. I've had a few emails in early this year with Todd (I guess/hope he'll read my comments hereafter). I was very impressed by his south pole solo trip, not because of the trip to the South pole, but because he found the energy and right mindset to continue walking in skiboots as his skis were broken. I'm very keen on such stuff as it's about getting the job done, and on top of that succeeding to beat Hannah's previous record.

    I've already made some comments early this month on this blog that personally I don't really like records. Even I I have done some sort of :

    The info about this post was correct as I think I did probably the longest desert trek between 2 water points (or sources). How do I know that ? In 2002, Regis Belleville did the longest desert walk between 2 wells (using camels to transport water) in the sahara, a distance of 1001 km. (

    As I covered a bit above 610km (straight segments without camels and as I know Jon Muir ( did the longest unsupported desert trek ever but getting water along the way (digging in dry creeks, finding some dirty ponds etc.) I think the distance and especially time without water supply was the largest. To me not that important. My main claim is the lenght of the Simpson, the journey of having done it, the km could have been lower if I didn't pass through the geographical center, to me a must have location along my trek. The idea behind my trek was also: Am I able to carry everything I need during 5 weeks, so pulling such a massive weight of 215 kg at the start for a body of 72 kg?

    Todd claims he want (and I'm sure he will) beat a current record and be above 400 miles (above 640km). I'm just wondering what exactly is this record ? longest in Death Valley or North America or longest ever ? It's just about being very specific/accurate on the record and conditions. To me, regardless the desert, the longest unsupported walk in modern times was done by Jon Muir. It was 128 days and 2500 km, and it took him 10 years of preparation to make it after the fourth attempt. His movie "Alone across Australia" won numerous prizes around the world in festivals. And if you never had a chance to see the movie, try to find it on amazon or ebay.

    About records, in my opinion time into the wilderness is more important than distance covered. You learn much more about yourself and dehydration especially if you pass the 3 weeks mark. This is when the body usually starts to break because of accumulation of fatigue leading and because you usually have a diet that doesn't include all vitamins the body requires as you mainly eat the same stuff every day. But of course it's a matter of opinion and achieving greater distance is undoubtly a way to beat records.

    So I hope Todd will explain better the facts about his record.

    And I'm waiting for the person who'll cross Death Valley once without any cart. I guess some ultrarunners like Ray Zahab could do it unsupported carrying 40 liters of water, a bit of food and equipment.

  2. Hey Jean Lois,

    Nice to read your comment.

    Concerning your question on desert trekking records. As you well know, the World Record Academy maintains many statistics on a great number of human activities in a wide array of categories. Most of these categories and activities are well defined, such as the Track and Field events of 10k and the High Jump, whereas others are not. Ultra Trekking is one of those that is not. Why do I mention this? Why should I even care?

    While completely recognizing the intrinsic merit of trekking outside of record keeping, which I hope to be obvious to all of us, I am additionally interested in promoting it, again for reasons I hope is clear to all of us, and find that recognition by the World Record Academy one of many ways to achieve that. In short, outside particular experiences, one of my goals, as a man who has spent a great amount of his life in a tent, is to share trekking and hopefully draw others, particular our youth, into it.

    As you well allude to in your comment, the present state of the information maintained by the World Record Academy as it pertains to desert trekking, is terribly vague. This is due to the fact that few trekkers have made the effort to assist the Academy. The “well to well” you mention (I consider “trekking without supplemental water” or “self-supported”) is a fine example of this. This is a method of trekking I LOVE, for its challenge and for the intense preparation it requires etc, and believe it rightly deserves a common definition as well as a legitimate place in the record of human achievement, namely in the archives of the World Record Academy. Don’t you agree? Your trek was an example of this sort of trekking, and my attempt in Death Valley is as well.

    All of that said, whether this is something you intended or not, and whether or not there have been others who have done roughly similar treks (yet with camels or supplemental water etc), and whether or not someone has done more miles yet kept the achievement to themselves, you are considered to be, unofficially, the world record holder in this newly forming category. That is just a fact.

    Whether motives are put into question or whether beliefs are held that trekking should exist outside the wonderful challenge of bettering what our species has accomplished to this point, I nevertheless hope that there are a number of us who believe there is indeed merit in this type of record keeping. To me, this is simply an integral part of the human experience.

    Finally, I also hope that these same people wish to assist the Academy in defining vague categories, and indeed challenge themselves to better records wherever possible, as I intend to do in Death Valley. This will go a long way for others to experience those things I cherish so much. This I believe is good ambassadorship – and this I believe walks nicely in tandem with the beauty of what we do as trekkers.

    I hope this helps.

    All my best,


  3. I'm incredibly excited to have both of you here to discuss these very issues. I appreciate both of your insights of course, and Todd I'll be following along on your trek and wishing you the best of luck every step of the way.

  4. Thanks Todd,

    I agree with you. And it's clear now that the record is meant for the "longest distance walking unsupported without any water source/supply along the way".

    Last thing, Todd, did you get the email I sent you on 11th of August ?

    I explained you the weak point of the Pig (well based on the photos I can see on your site) and I seriously think it can break. Basically I belive you 2 bolts joining the pulling-bars to the frame will break by transversal shear due to fatigue. Fatigue could possibly bend or break the pulling bars close to the frame. Trust me on this as I told Timothy I had concerns about his wheel-axles to be too thin. Look at vide while training. When he left for the Simpson West-East 2 weeks before me, his cart lasted 4 days ha broke all his axles and spare ones. Emptied all his water, and took 3-4 days to walk back out to safety with only a few liters.

    If you didn't get it, i must be again in your spam 🙂
    I'll then sent it via facebook.

  5. I'm still vague on the October crossing date and how it (even) qualifies as a record as it is significantly cooler (even in Death Valley) than the July/August recognized window for crossings. There have been other modern day crossing and they are not recognized if outside of that window as Death Valley is know for its heat during summer months. This is a common know fact. Case in point, the Badwater 135 race is held in July for that reason. What would make it extraordinary if it was done outside of the "heat" window?

    Some of the first crossings of Death Valley were in the mid 1800's by William Manley and the Jayhawkers–that is who named the valley "Death Valley". We are all just "playing" out in DV now as failsafes are in place, back then, like with Jon Muir across Australia, no failsafes existed.

    I would agree with Belgian Adventurer as he has it right, Jon Muir's crossing of Australia is unbelievable, and it sounds like his crossing of the Simpson Desert was too. Congrats to him.

  6. hey Todd you are a wonder,rob here from Ireland.i hold the longest solo sail non stop record.and the only man to sail solo in a plastic bath 800k amazon river,i just love when people push themselfs beyond the boundrys.planning to power para glide 4000 miles from source amazon to finish in the bath ,i just loved your south pole adventure,on the ice and saying feck it …i walk going against advise from support unit,hope to meet up with you some day..a fan

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