Maxime Chaya

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Maxime Chaya
مكسيم شعيا
'There is an Everest for Everyone'
Born(1961-12-16)December 16, 1961
Alma materLondon School of Economics and Political Science
Occupation(s)Sportsman, Climber, Explorer, Professional Speaker, Corporate Ambassador
SpousePascale Melhem Kesrouani (Poupa)
ChildrenEdgard & Kelly
AwardsOfficer of the National Order of the Cedar

Maxime Chaya (Arabic: مكسيم شعيا) (born December 16, 1961) is a Lebanese sportsman, mountaineer and explorer. On May 15, 2006, he was the first Lebanese to climb Mount Everest, completing the Seven Summits challenge.[1][2][3] On December 28, 2007, Max also became the first from the Middle East to reach the South Pole on foot from the Antarctic coast,[2] after an unsupported and unassisted journey that lasted 47 days. Then, on April 25, 2009, he reached the North Pole also on foot, all the way from Canada.[4][5]


Maxime Edgard Chaya was born and raised in Beirut until the year 1975 when the civil war saw him and his family take refuge abroad. He pursued his education overseas in Greece, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Honors degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).[citation needed]

Chaya then spent a year as a trainee at Republic National Bank of New York's head office on Fifth Avenue before foregoing post-graduate studies and returning home to take over the family's Foreign Exchange business. In 1999, he founded his own company VO2max, and through it, organized races and competitions for Lebanese youth of all ages. Cycling, both road and mountain biking, triathlon, road running, trail-running, rock climbing, ski touring, and freeride were all part of the VO2MAX challenge series of events from 1999 to 2003.[6]

Besides organizing events for others, and the youth in particular, Chaya showed great interest in competing personally, and seemed to excel in every discipline he would adopt. Despite the lack of professional training and advice (owing in part due to the Lebanese Civil War), his rigorous training, coupled with unfailing determination, perseverance and willpower won him several awards and trophies in a host of disciplines both at national and international level.

Chaya now resides in Lebanon with his two children: Edgard and Kelly. Despite work and family life, he has kept his fitness level at the very top but has gradually put down his rackets, skates, and various balls to take up more open-air sports such as trail running, biking, backcountry skiing, and climbing.

Since his partnership with Bank Audi on the "Seven Summits Project" in January 2003,[7] it has been one successful expedition after another for Chaya, acquiring experience, knowledge and wisdom, while discovering new limits within him, and 'Growing Beyond His Potential' summit after summit.

On August 5, 2013, Chaya and his two crew-mates beat the world speed record in rowing the Indian Ocean. The three adventurers, Chaya, the Faroese Livar Nysted and the British Stuart Kershaw crossed 5,801 kilometres (3,132 nmi) from Geraldton in the Western Australia and rowed alternatively, during 57 days, 19 hours, 25 minutes and 52 seconds exactly. They were also the first crew of three ever to cross any ocean.

In December 2016, Maxime and his British friend and teammate Steve Holyoak were the first ever to cross a sand desert on bicycles. They chose the Empty Quarter and rode their fat bikes unassisted from Abu Dhabi UAE on the Arabian Gulf all the way south to Salalah Oman on the Indian Ocean some 1,500 km and 21 days later.

Major sporting achievements[edit]

Chaya visiting the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala-India where he offered him a signed copy of his book Steep Dreams.



Numerous national representations at international events.

  • 2nd overall: "Trophée du Nil" (Egypt – 1998)
  • 3rd overall: "Raid Thai" (Thailand – 1999)
  • 1st place: "Kenya Sports Safari" (Kenya – 2001)
  • 23rd: UCI World Masters Championships (Canada – 2001)
  • Among the first Lebanese to complete an "Ironman" triathlon (the Netherlands – 2002)


In 2000, while on a visit to Kenya for an international mountain biking stage race that he won, Chaya went on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in nearby Tanzania. Little did he know that this was to be the first of his 'Seven Summits', and as he watched the sunrise from the roof of Africa, he pondered over his desire to challenge himself yet further on these new sports grounds in the great outdoors: the high mountain.

Over a three-year climbing odyssey, Chaya took on each of the 'Seven Summits' (the highest peak on each continent), raising the Lebanese flag – and national pride – on every occasion. Still intent on thriving, Chaya subsequently went on to achieve the 'Three Poles'.

In 2006, Discovery Channel launched a reality television series entitled Everest: Beyond the Limit. It is a multi-episode documentary that portrays the two-month expedition and the struggles, highs, lows, triumphs and despairs of 11 climbers aspiring to stand on the summit of the world's highest peak. Chaya was one of those climbers. The series turned-out to be a tremendous success to the point that it was repeated in subsequent years, with different climbers in what was known as Series II and Series III.

Maxime Chaya receiving Guinness world record for achieving the fastest row across the Indian ocean east to west from Geraldton, Australia to Mauritius aboard "tRIO" in 57 days 15 hours 49 minutes between 9 June and 15 August 2013

As Chaya said in many interviews about his Everest expedition,[8] reaching the summit – and more importantly, coming back – should never be taken for granted. This is a serious endeavor that could put even the finest climbers' lives at risk. Everest may not be as technical as some other 8,000 meter peaks, yet its sheer height greatly magnifies any problem that is not dealt with immediately. This – the altitude – is what makes Chomolungma (the Tibetan name for Everest) unique and worthy of all the respect it deserves.

On May 15, 2006, Chaya, exhausted after his successful summit bid, saw his triumph turn to tragedy as he encountered a dying climber on his way back from the summit of Everest. The name of the distressed climber was David Sharp. Chaya and his Tibetan Sherpa Dorjee, tried their best to help. They spent more than an hour next to the stricken climber, whom they did not know, desperately trying to revive him. Unfortunately, Sharp was unconscious and frozen from the knees down. He did not respond to the oxygen administered. Chaya later reported that although very sad of the man's fate, he was confident that nothing more could have been done for him at that stage. "He was much closer to death than he was to life."

Chaya subsequently went on to achieve the Three Poles Challenge. He reached the South Pole – S90 – unassisted and unsupported on December 28, 2007, after setting off from the Hercules Inlet 48 days earlier with his teammates from Canada, Great Britain, Norway and Switzerland.[9] A year and a half later, on April 25, 2009, Chaya and his two teammates from the USA reached the North Pole – N90 – after a 53 days on the ice unassisted.[10] He then became the 16th person to achieve the Three Poles Challenge and the 6th ever to achieve both the Seven Summits and the Three Poles Challenge.

Still intent on thriving, Chaya took to the high seas. After years of planning, preparation and training he set off from Geraldton, Western Australia[11] on June 9, 2013 aboard his rowboat "tRIO". Along with his two crewmates from the Faroe Islands and Great Britain they reached Mauritius[12] 57 days later on August 5. The trio were awarded two Guinness World Records when the Ocean Rowing Society homologated their time as the fastest row across the Indian Ocean in 57 days 15 hours 49 minutes. They are also the first three-man crew ever to row an ocean. Chaya is believed to be the only person ever to have succeeded in climbing the Seven Summits, reaching the Three Poles Challenge and rowing an ocean.

Climbed peaks and reached landmarks[edit]

Fiscal Stamp Issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance commemorating Chaya's South Pole Success

Climbed, and raised the Lebanese flag on all Seven Summits[edit]

Public recognition[edit]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

In November 2010, Chaya lead a team of seven ambassadors (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Korea, Romania, Spain and UK) to raise funds for the nine Beirut Marathon partner charities. After rigorous training sessions headed by Chaya, each ambassador ran one leg of the relay (10km, 7km or 5km) while Chaya ran the complete marathon, alongside his fellow ambassadors, supporting them along the way. On this first year that the Beirut Marathon introduces the notion of 'running for a cause' Chaya was able to raise $57,033 which he distributed equally among the nine NGOs.


  • July 2007: Postal Stamp Issued by the Ministry of Finance commemoration Chaya's ascent of Mount Everest[13]
  • April 2008: Fiscal Stamp Issued by the Ministry of Finance commemorating Chaya's South Pole Success.

Calling cards[edit]

  • March 2008: Kalam Cards (calling cards) issued by the Ministry of Telecommunications commemorating Chaya's successes. Two cards: One commemorating the Everest success on May 15, 2006; and another card commemorating the South Pole success on December 28, 2007.

Inspirational speaking[edit]

Schools, Universities and Clubs[edit]

As part of his own CSR, Chaya regularly visits school, universities and clubs across the region delivering his presentation entitled: "There is an Everest for Everyone".

Max Chaya Launching his book Steep Dreams: My Journey to the Top of the World at Salon du Livre in BIEL Beirut.

List of some Schools and Universities visited by Maxime Chaya to address and motivate the students:[14]


Chaya also speaks to companies at annual events. He delivers a more elaborate, corporate presentation also entitled "There is an Everest to Everyone" where he draws the parallel between mountain climbing and the challenge of business and life.[15]

Lebanese Max Chaya behind his mask during his North Pole expedition



Chaya serving the guests and donors at a Toufoula fundraising event.

In spite of controversy concerning mountaineer David Sharp, Chaya is increasingly solicited to endorse and speak on behalf of charities and NGOs across the region and beyond:


Board memberships[edit]


Book: Steep Dreams: My journey to the Top of the World[edit]

Comic book: Maximum Max - Vol.1: Metamorphosis on the Magic Mountain[edit]

Comic book: Maximum Max - Vol.2: Prince of Peaks[edit]

Lebanon's foremost sportsman and climber, Maxime Chaya was the first person from his country to hoist its flag atop Everest, and he did so en route to ascending the highest mountain on every continent – the Seven Summits – while also skiing to the North and South Poles. Written in conjunction with New York Times bestselling author Richard Buskin, and illustrated with more than 700 stunning, high-quality, comprehensively captioned photos, 'Steep Dreams: My Journey to the Top of the World' tells the story of Max's adventure-based achievements; of his brushes with death in a wide variety of settings, along with the physical pain, mental anguish, soul-searching, emotional highs and ultimate satisfaction of not only surviving, but also learning to contend with the forces and marvels of nature. It is, in short, the gripping, sometimes harrowing, always rewarding tale of one man's incredible trans-global journey and the realization of his most heartfelt lifelong ambition.


  1. ^ "Talking To: Maxime Chaya". NOW Lebanon. February 3, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Furniss, Jamie (February 6, 2008). "Conquering oneself". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on September 11, 2009.
  3. ^ Breed, Allen G.; Gurobacharya, Binaj (July 16, 2006). "Did Everest Climber Sharp Have to Die?". Fox News. Associated Press.
  4. ^ Mahdawi, Dalila (April 29, 2009). "Lebanese explorer first Arab to reach N. Pole". Daily Star.
  5. ^ Werner, John (June 29, 2009). "Waco attorney and Mount Everest climber make trip to North Pole". Waco Tribune. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009.
  6. ^ Klotz, Nina Anika (30 April 2011). "Ein Banker als Gipfelstürmer". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). Archived from the original on 2 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Bank Audi 7 summits". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Max Chaya". Discovery Channel. March 2007. Archived from the original on 2010-12-02.
  9. ^ "Maxime Chaya Reaches The South Pole!!!". Blogging Beirut. December 29, 2007.
  10. ^ "Maxime Chaya reached the north pole". Plus 961.
  11. ^ "Maxime Chaya's RIO – 2 New World Records!". prwebme. 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Maxime Chaya rows from Australia to Mauritius in a record time". Travel and Tour World. August 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "Maxime Chaya Everest Lebanon Stamp". The Three Poles. July 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  14. ^ "Presentations: Schools & Universities" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  15. ^ "Presentations: Companies" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  16. ^ "Maxime, Lutte contre la drogue". L'Orient-Le Jour (in French). June 30, 2006. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011.
  17. ^ "Mr. Maxime Chaya, parrain libanais du projet: L'École agit". Arc-en-ciel Lebanon (in French). December 12, 2008. Archived from the original on September 7, 2010.
  18. ^ "Seal Events 2010". SEAL USA. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11.
  19. ^ "Maxime pour la levée de fonds au profit de SEAL". Facebook. October 1, 2010.
  20. ^ "Chaya's Toufoula Fund raising". Blogging Beirut. February 11, 2010. Archived from the original on December 13, 2010.
  21. ^ "Children Fighting Cancer Given a CHANCE at SkyBar". Beirut Night Life. August 16, 2010.
  22. ^ "Chance Against Cancer at Skybar". Beirut Night Life. August 16, 2010.
  23. ^ "Founder Maxime Chaya". ThinkGreen. Archived from the original on 2011-02-28.
  24. ^ "Maxime Chaya Running for Nine Partner Charities". Archived from the original on 2011-01-11.
  25. ^ "Mr. Maxime Chaya, Member". WLAR.

External links[edit]