Update 12 August 2016
Kilian Jornet and team have completed their accilization with 4 days in Nepal’s Langtang valley and will now fly to Lhasa. It should take them a few days to drive to the Rongbuk Monastery, rest up and perhaps begin their Everest speed attempt in mid to late August depending on weather.
If the headline made you look, then you are an Everest fan. 95% of all Everest summits occur in the spring, almost exclusively from mid to late May – after the winter snows and just before the annual monsoonal rains.
A paltry 0.1% of all summits since 1953 have occurred in the summer. That’s right, there have only been 9 summits between June 21st and September 22.
Made for Speed
If Spanish speed climber Kilian Jornet. has his way, he will make history sometime this summer by not only summiting in summer but also by setting an FKT record. Considering who this 28 year old Catalan is, he stands a decent chance to make it. He is from Puigcerdà in the Pyrenees and stands 5′ 6″ and weighs in at 127 pounds. His VO2 max is listed on his website at 85-90 ml/min/kg – world class.
Fastest Known Times
Jornet has made a successful career for himself by running up mountains faster than anyone else. He competes in a category called ‘Fastest Known Time‘ aka FKT where there are no rules. You can start wherever you like and make claims to your time as you see fit – that said Jornet is the real deal with globally recognized fastest times including in ultra marathons and other more organized events. These are some of his records he set (some have been broken since by others):
- Denali: 11:48 – Base Camp to summit and back, 7 June 2014
- Aconcagua: 12:49 -Horcones trailhead to summit and back, 23 December 2014
- Mont Blanc: 4:57:34 – Chamonix to summit and back, 11 July 2013
- Matterhorn: 2:52 – Breuil-Cervinia, Italy to summit and back, 21 August 2013
- Kilimanjaro: 7:14 – Umbwe Gate to Uhuru Peak and back, September 28, 2010
Training with the Team
He will have others running/climbing with him including Jordi Tosas, who summited K2 in 2004 via the Magic Line route. Cameramen and guides Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Vivian Bruchez will also be along.
They have spent a month in the Alps and conducted training runs on Mont Blanc three times a week. The teams feels they will arrive in Tibet acclimatized to 16,400 feet, the altitude of the Rongbuk Monastery. They note:
“It’s a new approach to acclimatisation. Before we set off for the Himalayas we will have partly acclimatised having spent some days at altitude. This means we won’t have to wait so long to start when we arrive at the Everest base camp.” Kilian Jornet adds: “This means we’ll be stronger when we begin the ascent. It can make you weaker if you spend several days acclimatising yourself on the mountain. With this type of acclimatisation we can begin the challenge with more energy and a better chance of success.”
Everest – North Side
Jornet’s style is ultralight, starting his time from the nearest village to the summit. For Everest he will start running from the Rongbuk Monastery, hoping to summit in a single push. He expects to take around 20 hours to summit and about 35 hours to descend. In other words, he will be on the move with no ropes, supplemental oxygen or support camps for over two non-stop days mostly above 7000 meters.
He has custom boots made by Salomon that have integrated crampons. The modular boots will allow Jornet to start in what are basically running shoes, adding stiffer climbing boots and finally full on mountaineering boots as he reaches higher, and colder, conditions.
After departing from the Monastery, they will cover about 18 miles to reach the North Face Advanced Base Camp at 21,325’/6,500m. Then depending on conditions, their plan is to either ascend the Norton or Hornbein Couloir.
Sections of this route approach 80 degrees so climbing with no protection adds to their ambitious plans. However it is not without precedent. On 30 August 1986, Swiss climbers Erhard Loretan and Jean Troillet summited Everest via the North Face in a single push without oxygen, ropes, or tents in 37 hours.
It will be the first time that Jornet has climbed above 8,000m. Jornet is realistic about this project, part of a campaign he calls Summits of My Life:
“Reaching the summit depends on a lot of factors. There are external factors, such as the weather and the conditions on the mountain, but it also depends on us, if we are sufficiently prepared. Whatever happens, if we don’t make it, for me it’s not a failure. On the contrary, it’s a lesson. I know that whatever happens we’ll return from Everest having learnt something. In the end, it’s the mountain that’s in charge and we have to be humble. It will always be there, waiting for us, for another chance.”
Best of luck to this young climber. We will all be watching and pulling for you.
Memories are Everything