THE FIGURES OF LAKE BAIKAL
500 km in 8 days
It is the largest unfrozen freshwater reserve on the planet (20%), home to 2,600 animal and plant species. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
• Area: 31,722 km2, length: 636 km and width: 80 km.
• The oldest lake: 25 million years old and the deepest 1642 meters.
• Water volume: 23,000 km3, ie 260 times Lake Geneva.
• Visibility: up to 40 meters deep.
• Temperatures: between -10° C and -30° C during the winter period.
• Islands: 22 islands, the largest of which is Olkhon Island.
• Population: 50,000 people live on the lake shore.
• Active area: more than 100 earthquakes every year
Stéven Le Hyaric and Perrine Fages embarked on a bicycle crossing of the frozen Siberian lake just before the confinement. Magic and adventures in the kingdom of his majesty Baikal. The duo dreamed of accomplishing this journey in about a week, completely without assistance. Setting performance goals is still a reflex for these two athletes.
Lake Baikal cannot be tamed. But the adventurers never gave up and traveled about 500 kilometers (out of the 636 originally planned) and found the adventure they were coming for.
Every year, for 5-6 months, a thick layer of ice covers the lake and cracks appear on its shiny surface. Alchemy of materials and lights. “It's surprising, Lake Baikal. It is adventure in its purest form. There is ice, cold. It is powerful. We are isolated. But it was a real privilege to be on this lake, ”says Stéven.
Her sidekick Perrine, who has accumulated performances in several ultra-endurance disciplines (she notably holds the female record in extreme triathlon, the Enduroman), appreciates “off” adventures. An expatriate in Qatar for 5 years, this lawyer appreciates sporting challenges of all kinds, in the desert, in the mountains or in the cold, either while running or on her bike. There is only one condition: never be sure of getting to the end of the ordeal.
This young forty-something, who was making her fourth trip to Russia, could not help but fall under the spell of Baikal. “I really recommend this place. It's beautiful, she raves. One morning, I opened the tent: I admired the mountains, the color of the sky and its reflection on the lake. It was just beautiful. Spending time on the lake, learning, making mistakes, that's what we experienced. We will have to go back there in better conditions, with less snow and no time constraints ”. Lake Baikal captivates with its beauty, energy and unique atmosphere. It is the pride of the Russians. It is the object of all covetousness. However, adventurers rarely compete on a bicycle.
Ten years after Sylvain Tesson's hermit experience, the duo embarks on this completely frosty project. After 2 high altitude adventures in 2019, these ultra-cyclists want to rub shoulders with the cold. It is Perrine who suggests the project to her friend. In full preparation for his Project 666 (crossing the 6 hardest deserts in the world, on 6 continents, in 6 months by bike), the idea immediately seduced the former cyclist: discover Russia, measure his physical condition in the cold and test his equipment before his expedition to Antarctica. The Baikal mission is born. Perrine has just returned from an ultra-trail in Lapland (the Rovaniemi 150) where, hindered by a knee injury, she had to give up. “I loved the experience and wanted to get back to the cold. After Lapland, I did not see myself doing this Baikal adventure alone. Nature is harsh on the lake. Each expedition is very committed. A journey that is never without risks (seracs, cracks) nor without fear. Opting for a north-south route, the team was taken to the end of the lake for an early departure the next day. For locals, this route is not the best option because of the snow. As a signal, on the first day, the adventurers turn around to choose a better route.
On this path, Stéven is hit by a car. There is a lot of traffic on this part of the lake where you can move around freely. A big fright at the outset! Material damage which requires a return to the hotel in Severobaïkalsk. A new start is taken this time on the right side of the lake. Every day, Stéven and Perrine get lost, wander off in search of a perfect route that does not exist. The major obstacle is this fresh and abundant snow which slows down their progress.
The blocks of ice get in their way. On the material side, Stéven has a fatbike (in aluminum) with studded tires dragging a pulka (transport sled) with a very heavy load. Perrine chose an ultra light carbon mountain bike with minimalist equipment. Different choices. “Physically, it was more involved for Stéven. I always start very light. With my mountain bike, I struggled in the snow, it was very tiring but I always believed in the success of our challenge. We knew that when we reached the ice, we could go 300 kilometers without sleeping. " The conditions are far from ideal for this crossing by bike. The course is difficult and the pleasure absent. The 2 cyclists turn around. Then there is this moment out of time when the duo take refuge in the hut of a fisherman who offers them hospitality. Initially, they want to take a short break but stay for more than 20 hours! "An incredible moment, a moment of life" remembers Perrine.
The adventure changes. At this moment, it is obvious: we must move forward and get out of this snow. The performance objective becomes secondary. They then call for help. "There is always something good in giving up" says Stéven, disappointed to face his first failure. They refuse to give up in the middle of the lake. With the help of a vehicle, they advance 200 kilometers to the island of Olkhon. The last 2 days are unforgettable with great sensations on the ice despite a very strong wind.
The kilometers go by to the end of the lake in an atmosphere of end of adventure. Tensions, fears, emotions, there were a lot of them during these 8 days. What to strengthen even a little more this friendship which binds them.
“With each adventure, we don't see things the same way anymore ”I like to go fast on a bike, Perrine is more in contemplation. We don't have the same characters. It is rigorous, a little more in control and I work more by feeling." We form a complementary duo, ”emphasizes Stéven. Everyone finds their story on Lake Baikal or starts one.
Stéven and Perrine are very keen to go back and give themselves more time to set off again in better conditions and succeed in this challenge in total autonomy! “As soon as I can, I will try the adventure again. I will have my revenge” promises Stéven. The magnetism of the lake always catches up with its adventurers.
Source - MK Sport
THEY ARE TALKING :
This Baikal Mission adventure is an introduction to an expedition to cross 6 of the most hostile deserts in the world: the 666 Project. Baikal is not one of the 6 deserts, it is only as we say in mountaineering "the approach". It introduces one of its key values: desertification.
The climate challenge is before us, impossible to hide. The meaning of this project, well beyond its unprecedented character since it will be a world first, is to awaken awareness of what humanity is about to experience as a result of climate change: desertification.
By going to experience and cross some of the most demanding deserts on the planet, everyone will be able to see the changes underway, to come, the consequences on nature and the effects on the human body.
666 for the 6 hardest deserts in the world on 6 continents in 6 months
6 deserts / 6 continents / 6 x 1 month.
666 is also a nod to what some consider to be the number of Hell, the mark of the beast. A wink to get involved in my own way for the planet and against climate change which is already well underway.
Showing what life is like in the deserts and the difficulties of survival will be the common thread of this project. What better way for an adventurer than to show and explore the reality on the ground to transmit a few fragments.