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Whilst on the Subject of Denali...

Blink and you'll miss him, but Catalan ultra-running star Kilian Jornet has continued his 'Summits of My Life' project (which basically appears to be the 7 summits plus popular Euro trade routes), this time on 6186 metre high Denali. Applying his ultra-running approach to mountaineering and ski-mountaineering, Jornet climbed light and (very) fast to summit from the Kahiltna air strip, and returned in 11 hours 48 minutes. To put this time in perspective, Jornet reached the summit and returned to the air strip in less time than it took previous speed record holder Ed Warren just to reach the top.

By Kilian Jornet By Kilian Jornet

Jornet climbed a variation to the West Buttress called the Rescue Gully, which ascends 4000 metres and covers roughly 50km of terrain. Details of the equipment he used are not known apart from the fact that he did take skis, however previous record holders, who include the late Outdoor Research Athlete Chad Kellogg, were known to don spiked running shoes once they had skied the glacier. Although he has attracted praise from climbers such as Ueli Stech for ushering in a new era to alpinism, he has also brought criticism upon himself for not allowing any margin for error. Often seen climbing in the Alps wearing only a shirt and shorts, he has no equipment to back him up if something were to go wrong - no down jacket to see him through the night. This indeed did happen last year while he and Emelie Forsberg attempted a speed record on the Frendo Spur out of Chamonix. With weather closing in, the two got off route and were unable to climb the more technical terrain with their equipment to gain the spur again. With no other option they phoned in the PGHM, a highly renowned rescue team based in Chamonix for help.

Photo by Marcus Berger Photo by Marcus Berger

Despite this, Kilian Jornet has been applying his approach to such mountains as Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Kilimanjaro with success, and plans to stamp records on Aconcagua, Elberus and Mt Everest. Who knows, maybe if he dreams enough Mt Kosciuszko could also be a possibility.