“Forrest Gump of the mountains” wants climb Everest
It sounds as if someone overextends himself completely. On Sunday next week (7 August), the Spaniard Kilian Jornet wants to set off to Tibet to climb Mount Everest. Not in the “usual” way but speedy, in a single push, without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support, on a seldom used route, during the monsoon season. And the 28-year-old has never before been above 8,000 meters. Plenty of reasons to be skeptical and suspect that it just could be a cleverly arranged PR stunt – were it not for Kilian Jornet and his partner on the mountain, Jordi Tosas.
Many speed records
The Catalan is in a way the “Forrest Gump of the mountains”. He runs and runs and runs – and has been celebrating successes in a row, whether as ski mountaineer, trailrunner or skyrunner. Jornet has set many records. So at the end of 2014, it took him only eight hours and 45 minutes to run from Horcones at 2,900 meters via the normal route to the 6,962-meter-high summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America, and back down in about four hours. After twelve hours and 49 minutes Jornet reached the starting point again. He doesn’t only break records, he “powders” them. In 2013, the 1.71 meter tall Spaniard needed just four hours and 57 minutes to climb up and down Mont Blanc from Chamonix, and it took him two hours and 52 minutes for ascent and descent of the Matterhorn from the Italien side. In summer 2014, he needed eleven hours and 48 minutes to climb up Denali, with 6,194 meters the highest mountain in North America, and ski down from the summit.
Pre-acclimatization in the Alps
Now he wants to tackle the highest of all mountains within his project “Summits of my life”. “Everest will probably be one of the most demanding climbs I’ve ever faced,” says Kilian. “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.” Jornet and his team will stay a few days in the Alps at altitudes above 4,000 meters, before they start to Asia. “It can make you weaker if you spend several days acclimatizing yourself on the mountain,” says Kilian. “With this type of acclimatization we can begin the challenge with more energy and a better chance of success.”
Up to every trick
Jornet is accompanied by the Spanish top climber Jordi Tosas. The 48-year-old describes himself as a “nomad, one of those that make a living in the mountains of our planet”. Jordi is up to every Himalayan and Karakoram trick. In 2004, he was a member of the Spanish team on K 2 that first succeeded to repeat the “Magic Line” via the Southsouthwest Ridge which had been first climbed in 1986 and is said to be one the most difficult routes on the second highest mountain on earth. Later Tosas inter alia opened new routes on the seven-thousanders Palung Ri (in 2006) and Jannu (in 2007) and via the North Face of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu (in 2011), each of them climbing solo. “The day when we attack the summit we think there won’t be anyone else on Everest,” says Jordi. “Thanks to the monsoon the fixed ropes will be covered with snow. And Everest will only allow you one chance.” The French cameramen and guides Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Vivian Bruchez complete the team.
Light and fast
Kilian Jornet will set off at the highest permanently inhabited settlement on the north side of Everest, the Rongbuk Monastery. From there it is about 30 kilometers to the Advanced Base Camp below the North Col. Depending on the conditions on the mountain, Jornet and Tosas are planning to ascend through the Norton or Hornbein Couloir to the highest point on 8,850 meters. Both want to take as little as possible with them. “With light equipment we can advance quicker, although we know this increases the risk”, says Kilian. “We’re aware of this risk and we’re taking it because ultimately this is the way we like to approach the mountain.” Whatever will happen, it sounds extremely exciting.
Date29. July 2016 | 12:22