2016: KILIAN JORNET’S GREATEST CHALLENGE
This year Kilian Jornet will attempt what will probably be the most demanding challenges of the Summits of My Life project and, indeed, of his life. After breaking records on mountains around the world, the final part of his personal project will be an attempt to establish the record for ascending Everest, the world’s highest mountain (8,848m). The ascent of the giant Himalayan peak will take place in August and September. Once again, Kilian Jornet is taking on this challenge his own way, in the most pure and minimalist manner possible.
“Everest will probably be one of the most demanding climbs I’ve ever faced. It will be a great learning experience, from how my body reacts to the high altitude to how to apply the Alpine approach to the mountain. I’ve been preparing for this challenge for months and I’m keen to get started. The Summits of My Life project has always taken me to my limits and this time it won’t be any different,” Kilian Jornet says.
Kilian Jornet is taking on Everest with the purist and minimalist philosophy that is the trademark of the Alpine style. This means that, as with other challenges in the Summits of My Life project, he intends to complete the ascent in one go, without stopping at high-altitude camps. This is different from the classical Alpine approach but he has also acclimatising himself in a different way. Killian Jornet and his team intend to spend the last few weeks before they go to the Himalayas at a high altitude in the Alps. As Jordi Tosas explains: “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.”
Jornet has chosen a little-used route on the north face. As in previous Summits of My Life challenges, he will set off from the last inhabited place and from there aim to reach the summit and return to the point of departure. He will set off from the Rongbuk monastery in Tibet. Kilian Jornet will then have to cover some 30km before arriving at the advanced north face base camp – Zombie Camp (6,500m) and from there ascend to the 8,848m summit. Depending conditions, the team will decide the ascend route which Norton or Horbein are two of the possible options. It will be the first time that Kilian Jornet has climbed above 8,000m, which is why he said: “We’ll have to see how our body reacts at altitude. This expedition will be, above all, a learning exercise because we know there’s a long road ahead. Preparation is key, but we will also need to be patient to learn about these great mountains.”
Kilian Jornet is taking on the challenge without oxygen or fixed ropes and carrying the lightest equipment possible. As he explains: “This is so I can move more quickly. With light equipment we can advance quicker, although we know this increases the risk. We’re aware of this risk and we’re taking it because ultimately this is the way we like to approach the mountain.” The team doesn’t wish to predict how long the ascent of Everest will take as they are aware that there’s no evidence that any expedition has attempted this challenge in this way.
The Everest expedition is made up of Jordi Tosas, an Alpine climber who knows the area well, as well as the cameramen and guides Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Vivian Bruchez.
Once again, the way in which Kilian experiences the mountain will be a key factor, as it’s a small team and a huge challenge, all under the umbrella and based on the values of Summits of My Life: minimalism, friendship and learning. The expedition will leave Europe on August 7 and will be in the area for around eight weeks, waiting for the best moment to begin the ascent.
“The day when we attack the summit we think there won’t be anyone else on Everest. It’s a period when there’s no one there. Thanks to the monsoon the fixed ropes will be covered with snow and Everest will only allow you one chance,” said Tosas.
However, Kilian Jornet is aware that he may not be able to complete the challenge, and commented: “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.”
If he reaches the summit of Everest, it would mark the completion of Summits of My Life, in which Jornet has set record times on Mont Blanc, Cervino, Denali and the Aconcagua.
All the details of this adventure can be followed through Social Media channels Summits of My Life.