Last updated: 12-Mar-18
We all watched, humbled and astounded, as Kilian Jornet reached the highest point on earth, at a run with no oxygen. The greatest ultra runner on the planet had conquered the greatest mountain on the planet. What an achievement! Then, he did it again.
The first time round, Kilian reached the summit of Everest (8,848 metres) at midnight on the 21st/22nd May (local time +5:45 GMT) in a single climb. It took him 26 hours.
He summited via the north face, which is the traditional route, after beginning at Everest Base Camp near the ancient Rongbuk monastery (5,100m) on May 20th.
He returned back to the Advanced Base Camp which lies at 6,500m and because of stomach problems, he decided to end the attempt there rather than return to Everest Base Camp near Rongbuk as he had originally planned.
“Until I reached 7700 m I felt good and was progressing according to plan, but from then on I started to feel ill, possibly a stomach virus. From there I had to moved slowly and stop every few steps to recover. Finally, I made it to the summit at midnight,” he said.
Ascent number two
A week later, he set off again and climbed the north face of Everest (8,848m) on May 27th for the second time. He did not use oxygen, or fixed ropes and did the ascent in a single run.
He summited for the second time on May 27 at 9 pm (+5: 45GMT) in 17 hours, having left from the Advanced Base Camp. From there he headed towards the top along the most popular route, through the three high-altitude fields, a route which normally takes climbers four days.
The time, which has yet to be officially confirmed, is just 15 minutes off the record set by the Italian climber Hans Kammerlander, who climbed Everest in 16 hours and 45 minutes in 1996.
His team reported that, “The ascent to the top was slow but progressive. The wind was the main obstacle that Jornet had to overcome, on a very windy day in the Himalayas. The weather conditions improved during the night and for the final part of the challenge.”
He got back to the Advanced Base Camp 28h30 after he’d started.
“I am very excited to have been able to summit again! Today I felt good although it was very windy and progress was difficult. I think that to summit Everest twice in a week and without oxygen establishes a new line of possibilities in mountaineering and I am very happy to have been able to carry it out,” said Kilian on his return.
This is not his first attempt at the mountain, he has tried and failed before, so he must feel – literally – on top of the world to have finally conquered it. The ascents are part of his project Summits of My Life, which has led him to travel around the world trying to establish records of ascent for the most iconic mountains on the planet including Mont Blanc, Denali and Aconcagua.
For a man who has achieved so much, Kilian always remains modest and respectful of the challenges he is undertaking. Before one of his failed attempts on Everest he had this to say:
“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.”
Everest is probably one of the most demanding climbs I’ve ever faced. All this will be a great learning experience to see how my body will react at altitude, and to apply this way of facing the mountain with the style we use in the Alps [i.e. fast ascent / decent]. I have prepared for this challenge for many months and cannot wait to begin. The Summits of My Life project has always taken me further and I think this time will be no different“.
This time, he has got there and then got there again. He was accompanied part of the way by Sébastien Montaz-Rosset, mountain guide and cameraman for the expedition.
People like Kilian Jornet only come into the world rarely. He is a man who sees no limits for the human body and who will bend the toughest challenge to his will and his dedication. It is not just about the physical endeavour, he has also proved once again that the human spirit is indomitable.
Accumulated challenge times for second summiting
Everest Advanced Base Camp (6.400m) -Summit (8,848m): 17h
Summit (8,848m) – Everest Advanced Base Camp (6.400m): 28h30