Legends of the Trail - Page 7
Jornet takes fast and light to new heights on his big mountain forays. Courtesy of Suunto.
Goes Faster and Lighter
Last September, Catalan Kilian Jornet traversed 15,781-foot Mont Blanc, western Europe’s tallest mountain, from downtown Courmayeur, Italy, to downtown Chamonix, France, in 8 hours 42 minutes 57 seconds. The route, which he created to connect the two towns with a Mont Blanc traverse, was just under 26 miles long and had 12,595 feet of ascent. He used Italy’s airy and altitudinal— but technically moderate—Innominata Ridge to access the summit, which includes a sometimes-hairy (though Jornet said it was fairly safe during his speed outing) crossing of the crevassed Brouillard Glacier.
Says professional ultrarunner and recreational climber Dakota Jones, who reconnoitered the route with Jornet a week before his speed attempt, “The route has insane exposure. But, technically speaking, ‘moderate’ is right. We only roped up on the glacier and one other section.”
Jornet spent 90 minutes approaching the Innominata Ridge route proper and roughly 2 hours 25 minutes descending the mountain in a combination of road running, trail running, snow running, glacier running and scrambling. He says
this kind of running is his favorite: “I like the act of running, the moving, the breathing, the wind on my face. But if i’m not going somewhere—to a summit or over a whole mountain—then there is less meaning to the movement.”
at just 25 years old, Jornet is the king of any sport he plays, making him a quite- young legend. he wins almost every competition he enters in ski mountaineering, mountain running and ultramarathoning. But he also rebuffs the concept of sports with strict, differentiating definitions. “If i do just one sport on the mountain, I will only see a part of it. I want to experience the whole mountain, so I use whatever techniques I need.” Jornet approaches mountain projects with an ethic not unlike the way he races. “I go fast. I carry little.”
his fundamental take on mountain travel is not new— the age-old sport of mountaineering has continually evolved to faster and lighter records. Dani Arnold’s work of the Eiger north face and Ueli Steck’s attack on Shishapangma’s southwest face are recent examples of fast-and- light efforts on technically difficult routes.
But many mountaineers think Jornet is going faster and lighter than almost anyone previously. And he has plans to pioneer his style beyond the Graian alps in his Summits of My Life project. The speed records for Mount Elbrus, the Matterhorn, Aconcagua, Denali and Everest are on his hit list between now and 2015. “If he can pull off this proj- ect,” says Jones, trailing off, searching for an apt descriptor for the impact it would have on speed mountaineering. “Well, it would be a really big deal.”
Says Jornet, “I carry less equipment than many. But, when I move fast, I spend less time exposed to weather, avalanche areas, the possibility of rockfall.” His history of multi-season, multi-sport alpine play that began when he was a baby has yielded a robust skill set, and he possesses a training drive like few other humans. But mountaineering possesses inherent risk, and Jornet well knows that no style is immune to it. During a June 2012 speed project on Mont Blanc, he lost his friend Stephane Brosse when a cornice collapsed.
“You have to approach the mountain with the style that makes you feel most secure,” he says. “This shows the mountain the greatest respect. I am lucky that my style also makes me feel free, the same feeling as flying.”
— 1987 > Kilian Jornet is born.
— 2004 > Jornet wins his first international ski-mountaineering competition when he becomes the International Ski Mountaineering Federation Vertical Race World Champion in the Cadet (junior) division.
— 2006 > Jornet undergoes two reparative surgeries for a patella fracture that occurred when he fell on the street while walking home from school.
— 2008 > Jornet wins the Alps’ Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc for the first of three times.
— 2009 > Jornet sets the supported 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail speed record at 38 hours 32 minutes.
— 2010 > Jornet sets the Mount Kilimanjaro speed record at 7 hours 14 minutes via a 32.9-mile round- trip route to and from the 19,340-foot summit.
— 2011 > Jornet is crowned the International Ski Mountaineering Federation Overall World Champion (he again won the title in 2012).
— 2011 > Jornet wins the Western States 100- Mile Endurance Run in 15:34:24, the sixth-fastest finishing time ever.
— 2012 > Jornet captures both the International Skyrunning Federation’s World Series and Ultra Series champion titles.