Just yesterday I shared the story of Death Valley recently setting a record for the highest temperature ever recorded. For those that missed it, over the weekend thermometers measured the heat at more than 130ºF (54.4ºC). That’s hot enough that most people wouldn’t want to do anything outside, let alone anything that would require a lot of effort. But French adventurer Roland Banas isn’t just anyone and he seems to enjoy testing himself in the hot, arid desert that is warmest and lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Last year, we followed along as he made a solo, unsupported crossing of Death Valley in January. A few weeks back however, he embarked on a summer crossing, becoming one of the very few to actually accomplish that feat.
ExWeb reports that Roland wrapped up his expedition on August 8, taking just 5 days and 7 hours to cover the 290 km (180 miles) of the route. In order to complete that journey, Banas pulled a car loaded with gear and supplies to keep himself safe in the harsh Death Valley environment. At the beginning of the trek, that cart weighed a whopping 155 kg (341 pound), most of which was due to the 110 liters of water that he took with him. In the harsh heat of the valley, dehydration can come on quickly and be devastating to the body. Having enough water to drink is the only way to survive a desert trek of this nature. To put things in perspective, Roland was drinking as much as 14 or 15 liters per day.
The journey began at the northernmost border of Death Valley in the Last Chance Mountain Range. Early on, Banas’ strength was tested with a long downhill section covering more than 20 km (12 miles), which isn’t easy with such a heavy cart. From there, it was a long slog up the first hill before things finally started to even out some. As you can imagine, it was a challenging expedition, filled with rough terrain, intense heat, and physically demanding obstacles. Still, Roland was able to cover an average of 52 km (32 miles) per day, an impressive number to say the least. Due to concerns over the environmental impact his cart would have on landscape, the Frenchman was required to stick to roads however, which made pulling the cart a little easier, but didn’t lessen the achievement or effort by much.
When he was finished, Roland had become the first person to make a solo, unsupported crossing of Death Valley in the summer. Make no mistake, there have been other crossings of this harsh environment in the past, but all of them were supported efforts. That makes Banas’ achievement all the more impressive. Most people would have quit after the first day carrying a load that was a fraction of what he was hauling.
Congrats on this amazing accomplishment Roland!
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