Suunto ambassador Kilian Jornet is acclimatizing in the Himalaya so he can attempt to set a fastest known time (FKT) record on the highest mountain in the world – Everest. We caught up with him and found out the game plan for his daring project.
It’s literally the “high point” of his Summits of My Life project – alpinist, runner and adventurer Kilian Jornet’s personal mission to set ascent and descent records on the most important mountains on the planet, culminating with Everest.
Denali, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro – all have seen records fall to Kilian. But now he’s readying himself for the ultimate challenge.
He has been preparing for months. Intense training, sleeping nights at 4500 m in the European Alps, and now he's in Nepal, doing the same at 6000 m.
“The highest I have been is 7700 m,” Kilian says. “I was feeling good then, but there is a big difference after 8200 m and after 8500 m.
“It’s really important to be well acclimatized to around 6000 m. So I will spend many nights at around this altitude. And then it’s important I go to around 8000 m before the attempt.”
Kilian and his team has arrived in Kathmandu and is getting ready for the expedition.
Depending on how well he acclimatizes, Kilian expects to make a FKT (fastest known time) attempt around mid September. It also depends on weather and snow conditions.
The plan is a light and fast, alpine-style ascent. He will carry only what he can fit a backpack. To keep weight down, he and his team have designed light, but warm boots made for purpose. He won’t be fixing ropes or using supplementary oxygen on the ascent. He will attempt the ascent from the north side, via either Norton-couloir or Horbein-couloir depending on conditions.
Two previous ascents are in the back of Kilian’s mind as time references. The first is a speed record set by Italian mountaineer Hans Kammerlander in 1996. Hans climbed from Base Camp to the summit of Everest via the North Col in 17 hours. The second reference is an “unprecedented and unrepeated” ascent in 1986 by Swiss climbers Erhard Loretan and Jean Troillet. They climbed the North Face via the Hornbein-couloir in a single alpine-style push without oxygen, ropes, or tents and descended again – all in 43 hours.
“It’s good to know these times as a reference for pace at altitude,” Kilian says. “I will take this as knowledge and will see how far I can go."
“It’s a big mountain, and we have a long term perspective. We will try this year, but probably we will need to come again next year."
“You need to go for it so if conditions are good and if I’m feeling good, I should try. But it’s important to have the patience to wait for this good moment.”
Main image: © Daniel Prudek/Shutterstock.com