Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sky Runner Kilian Jornet in The New Yorker

Kilian Jornet's amazing success in the mountains continues to earn him plenty of mainstream press. We've seen the Spanish sky runner garner attention from a number of unexpected sources as word of his exploits has spread to more traditional media outlets. The latest such outlet is The New Yorker, which recently published an excellent profile of the man who is setting new standards for speed on some of the world's most challenging peaks.

The article catches up with Kilian on Aconcagua, a mountain that he summited back in December, setting a new speed record in the process. It discusses his previous speed records on mountains Denali in Alaska and Mont Blanc in France. It even mentions his attempt at Elbrus, which was turned back due to high winds. The New Yorker says he'll give that mountain another go later this year, but at the moment he is squarely focused on training for Everest in the spring. The tallest peak on the planet will bring new challenges to Jornet, not the least of which will be the extreme altitude.

This profile takes us to Aconcagua Base Camp where we get a glimpse of Kilian's routine while on the mountain. His needs are simple as he shares the campsite with his girlfriend Emelie Forsberg, who is an accomplished mountain runner in her own right. The two make their own meals, boil water for tea, and generally keep each other company as they both prepared to challenge the speed records on the mountain. Due to the high altitude of Aconcagua, the tallest peak outside of Asia at 6962 meters (22,841 ft), both athletes had to take their time with the acclimatization process.

The story offers some good details about Kilian's speed record on the mountain, as well as his intentions for the year ahead. In a few months, he'll head to the Himalaya, where he'll be attempting to set a new "fastest known time" on the North Side of Everest. That makes good sense, as the Tibetan side of the mountain is far less crowded than the busy South Side in Nepal. The route is just as challenging of course, but he also won't have to contend with the tricky Khumbu Icefall, a traditional bottleneck for climbers that can cause progress to slow to a craw at times. On the North Side he'll still have to contend with plenty of obstacles however, not the least of which will be the Second Step.

Still, if anyone can set a new speed record on the Big Hill, it'll probably be Kilian. And you can bet that we'll be following his progress closely this spring. We're two months away from the arrival of the first teams in Nepal, and the anticipation for another season is already starting to grow.

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