The mountaineer Kilian Jornet : “What I am doing is clearly not for everyone “
The Spanish Kilian Jornet, known for its endurance and extreme speed climbing, has reached for the second time in a week the summit of Everest, without oxygen, may 27. Back in France, he told the World on his feat and future plans.
Can you tell us in two words your double feat at the Everest, which was not necessarily very well understood by the general public. Why twice, and why this race to the record ?
Kilian Jornet. The goal of the project as of the 1re ascent was from the monastery of Rongbuk at 5 100 m altitude, the last place inhabited by monks, and climb to the top. But as I had some stomach problems, and even if I was glad at the summit, I asked myself if I was able to get there with better feel, more natural. We were on the 23rd of may, I had climbed to 6 400 metres to 8 400 meters with a super good feeling that I wanted to relive up to the summit. We still had time, there was still a weather window four days later, so we decided that it was necessary to retry the climb. As much as I wanted to see if it was possible to recover in so little time.
It was also a work on your physiology ? Therefore, you have gradually changed your project – ‘ Summits of My Life to integrate this component, the knowledge of her own body and its limits ?
What is interesting in the mountains, it is to do things that make us discover how we work, to train differently, to retrieve otherwise. The ‘ Summits of My Life are a whole, one does not preclude the other. This physiological research, I practice it always. When I started training, I liked to try new things, to run without food, spend days without a drink, to see how my body reacted. It is natural for me. The project is operated in this mode of operation.
The fact of not having chosen to climb in September as the last year was he wanted ? You had to adapt to a season that you don’t know ?
It was a question of licence. I was in talks since the fall with the CTMA (China Tibet Mountaineering Association). They told me that they would certainly not give a licence for the summer and fall, so we made the decision to go there in the spring. It is the season of ice, therefore, there was no avalanche, it is the good time to climb. I was a little afraid compared to the cold, but in the Everest everything went perfectly, whereas in the Cho Oyu with Emelie [Forsberg, his companion], it has been more complicated because of the wind, we even had to take refuge in a crevasse during one of our ascents.
You have found at the foot of mount Everest in a place that is very popular, meeting a multitude of commercial shipments while you train very specifically and that you prepare very carefully your shipments. That is what it will exchange for you ?
last year we were completely alone at the foot of mount Everest. This year, it’s the full season, but I found that it was not so busy. There were about 250 people, including 150 climbers : a hundred at the base camp, a hundred in the process of climbing and a fifty at advanced base camp I think. On the south side, it must be very different. Both times at the summit I was completely alone, and in the ascent I had come across a few people, but there are so many possibilities, and not the same as commitment. Especially as I have not used the fixed ropes, I’ve only used the 3e scale, and even if you don’t, you know that they are there, so this is not the same commitment.
How the other climbers and sherpas present at the time of your shipment, and your attempts have you seen ?
there were a few people who knew me, who wanted to try the summit without oxygen, but also the various guides. The sherpas were a bit shocked, asking me why I wasn’t taking the oxygen, a radio or a satellite phone. It was rather a sense of protection, but once they have seen me evolve in the mountains, they understood my level and my way of committing myself. Most of the people who are present on the area are very focused on their objectives and, therefore, even in the climb, I tried to talk to them, but I quickly realized that they were too fixed on their goal.
This is the end of the ‘ Summits of My Life, have you had any kind of depression ?
Not really, because I am hyperactive. As soon as I got home, I resumed training, and two weeks after I did my first race of the season. I try not to project myself on the ascents, but to keep all that I have learned in these expeditions. It gives me the motivation to go on.
You reorient “trail” this summer, you’re going to be confronted with professional athletes of very high level who do not do it, then that is not your case…
It is interesting. I like the competition because it calls into question all of the time. It makes you train and you prepare a lot more than if you do not take part in the circuit. Especially as this year, it motivates them even more, there had never been ultratrails with a tray of several of the world elite. This is also why I like to take part in the Sierre-Zinal and Zegama, because these are races where there are level. In ultratrail, it is unlikely that there was competition.
We speak for your next project to climb the 14 “eight thousand” in a year. What is it ? And what budget ?
Ah bon ? no, but it is a good idea ! Moreover there were the Spanish, who had tried without success. No, seriously, I don’t have a project, in any case, it is not a project or an idea that I had, that I was never attracted to. But it is not a crazy project, I think even that it is possible. It’s just that he should have the chance to have a good window of weather. I believe that it takes a lot of luck and also a lot of money. Our expedition, for example, was quite cheap, without any sherpa or porter, with only a cook who made us primarily of rice, and passing the total one-month on-site, that reduces, by a six to ten-the price of shipments.
Your critics speak of a risk-taking, maximum, climb in sneakers, lack of survival equipment, and even unconsciousness. That their you answer them ?
What I do is clearly not for everyone. For the Everest I had developed with Salomon special shoes, but which are not on sale (I’m trying to push but it is difficult, the market is not mature, according to the brand). With them, I have not had a cold at all. It is, of course, as in the Alps, you don’t feel your feet, but it is not the cold of freezing, I’ve had more cold to the foot in other situations. Staying one more day in this cold weather, I’m not even sure that I would have been able to lose toes. Fatigue plays a lot in these problems. And in terms of hardware, I had a backpack of 7 kg, with mittens, a combination, a head lamp, trekking poles, an ice axe, a dozen energy gels and two litres of water, but one of the 2 bottles was frozen, I couldn’t use it…
You know the climber swiss German Ueli Steck, how have you learned and taken to his death ?
That day, I was at Cho Oyu (8 201 m) with Emelie. We went down a climb to 7,500 m and when we arrived at the base camp I took the satellite phone to check the weather forecast and I saw a message that asked me if I had taken the news of Ueli. Before shipping, we had written not bad compared to the weather conditions, because he wanted to go to the Hornbein. It I called, and my manager has returned a little later a message to tell me he was dead. It is a shock. Of course, there’s the personal side of life, but also my relation to the mountain : this is valid relative to the risk we put into it. We had discussed a lot of training, that brings the race to climbing a mountain and vice versa, the approach to the peaks, risk-taking, this way of seeing the mountain.
of Course when someone close to us dies, that you’re with your girlfriend in a climb, you say to yourself that you don’t want to finish like that, but you can’t change your way to apprehend the mountain. When I got to Everest, my initial idea was to mount either Hornbein Norton is a new way where we had decided to open in 2016. On my first day I tried, by way of 2016, but after 300 meters, I did not feel to take these risks, even though I had done last year, and so I am down. The death of Stéphane (Brush) is still the hardest time : he was my idol, he had showed me this way to climb mountains, to take me to practice this way, and it raises a lot of questions.