© Kilian Jornet Foundation
Suunto ambassador and mountain athlete Kilian Jornet has spent all of his life exploring, training and racing in some of the world’s most beautiful mountain landscapes. He started out life in a mountain hut in the Pyrenees, spent his youth training there, and then went on to set FKT records on many of the great summits of the world. Up in the mountains, far away from the madding crowds, is where he feels most at home.
Which is why now he wants to give back to the incredible environments that have sustained him. Climate change, pollution, habitat and biodiversity loss, are all degrading mountain and alpine ecosystems. Over the decades of racing and performing, Kilian has witnessed this firsthand.
“I’ve been climbing mountains and crossing glaciers my whole life, and I have observed how the effects of climate change have been devastating,” Kilian says. “We all have a role in reversing this tendency and ensuring that the next generations are able to not only play in the mountains, but are able to live on a healthy planet.”
© Matti Bernitz
Inspired to try to be part of the change, Kilian has founded the Kilian Jornet Foundation, which aims to preserve mountain environments through research, direct action and education. “I have been taught since I was a kid about the need to protect the environment, and I have done as much as I can with my own hands,” Kilian says. “Now, I want to take a step further and help projects, organizations and individuals that dedicate themselves to preserving the planet. The planet needs all the help we can give it.”
The first project the Kilian Jornet Foundation will support is the study and investigation of one of the most visible victims of climate change: the retreat of glaciers. Studying this is key to developing projects to conserve these ice masses that hold between 60 and 80% of the planet's freshwater. To do this, the Foundation is partnering with the World Glacier Mountaineering Service (WGMS) of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. For more than 125 years, this program has been gathering standardized observations of glacial change, and their fluctuations.
The funds collected will go to different initiatives promoted by the World Glacier Mountaineering Service, from measuring devices and equipment for researchers to education programs for schools, among other things.
“The Kilian Jornet Foundation is born to reach goals that individually we’re not able to achieve, to share knowledge and skills for the common goal of preserving the mountain environment and fight against what endangers it,” says Pau Ylla, director of the Foundation. “Climate and other changes need to be addressed comprehensively and it is essential to gather data and raise awareness of the importance of small actions for the change of the global system affecting mountains.”
Lead images: © Kilian Jornet Foundation