Monday, August 22, 2016

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kilian Trains in Tibet for Everest

We're back on a regular posting schedule for a few weeks after my recent visit to Quebec, and we have news from the Himalaya about Kilian Jornet's speed attempt on Everest. This expedition will be the last of his "Summits of My Life" project, which has also resulted in new records for the fastest known times on other major peaks, including Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Denali.

If you've been following Kilian's progress at all, you probably know that he left for the Himalaya a few weeks back where he has been organizing gear, continuing his training, and acclimatizing to the altitude. But, we also have a few more specifics about his schedule over the past few days.

Last Tuesday, Kilian flew from Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet. He spent a day there before starting the drive to Everest Base Camp, which is accessible by car on the North Side of the mountain. But, it is still a dramatic gain in altitude during that drive, so most people still go slow, and take a few days to reach BC, allowing their bodies to acclimatize a bit along the way. With that in mind, the Spanish ultrarunner has been working out along the way.

Over the weekend, he was in Tingri at 4300 meters (14,107 ft) where Kilian conducted some training runs. That's an altitude he's accustomed to, having spent the last few years making the Alps of Europe his personal playground. He also spent a good deal of time there training before leaving for the Himalaya.

It isn't clear yet just when Kilian and his team will arrive in Base Camp, but I would expect that that will happen this week. From there, the plan is to acclimate to higher altitudes before getting ready to make his historic attempt on the summit of Everest. We're still a few weeks away from that happening, but it certainly should be interesting to follow his preparation for the final push to the top. Especially when you keep in mind that this will be his first foray above 8000 meters.

Kilian's approach to the speed attempt has been a simple one. Get to the mountain while it is still summer, before there is anyone else attempting to climb it in the fall. This will ensure that the route is free from crowds that could potentially low him down. Taking one of the routes on the North Side should help keep the still on-going monsoons at bay to a degree as well, although it still could be dicey up on top. He'll now focus solely on acclimatizing and scouting the route until he is fully ready to go. From there, it will be a simple matter of waiting for the weather to cooperate and then choosing the best time to go.

For now, we all wait for that to happen.

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