Kilian Jornet’s New Project: Summits of My Life

Summits of My Life - Kilian JornetKilian Jornet is about to embark upon Summits of My Life, a multi-year project to explore the world’s mountains. Unlike some of previous projects, these projects will be stripped to the core: just Kilian and the mountain with a single photographer, Seb Montaz, there to document the experience.

Here’s what Kilian Jornet had to say just two weeks ago in response to our inquiry made without knowledge of Summits of My Life, “You’ve gotten to do a couple Kilian’s Quests. What dreams do you have left? What mountains do you want to go explore? What is calling to you? Do you have projects outside running?”

Yeah, first of all, me and a lot of runners, we are more mountaineers than runners so competition is a small part of this life. I like to go to the mountains. Now on the 29th of May, I will present a big project we will be working towards for the next 4-5 years. We are preparing a big project in the mountains all over the world. I think we have a great team. It’s a very small team. It’s just one cameraman, Sebastien Montaz, he’s really good. He can perform in any conditions. Then, it will be just me without any assistance or logistics. It’s more free. I see that if you go to one mountain and you break an ankle you put 10 persons with a bottle and you put ropes. It’s not real life. It’s just a toy, so we need to go there with health.

This year (2012), Kilian will ski from Champex (Switzerland) to Contamines (France) over the Mont Blanc massif before another crossing of Mont Blanc from Courmauear (Italy) to Chamonix (France) later in the year. He’ll then take a break from the project until next year.

2013 will be Kilian’s European assault. He’ll try to set the record on Europe’s highest mountain, Mt. Elbrus in Russia. Jornet will also try to break Bruno Brunod’s stellar Matterhorn record of 3:14 on the Swiss/Italian border. His final European record attempt in 2013 will be the Mont Blanc record starting and finishing in Chamonix, France that has stood since 1990.

In 2014, Kilian will cross the Atlantic to take on the highest peaks in the Americas. In South America, he’ll attempt to summit Aconcagua (Argentina), while Denali (Mount McKinley) of Alaska (US) will be his North American test.

Everest – that’s all you need to know about 2015.

Summits of My Life Tentative Schedule

  • 2012 – Mont Blanc Crossing (ski) and Mont Blanc Ridge
  • June 2013 – Mt. Elbrus
  • July 2013 – Matterhorn
  • August 2013 – Mont Blanc (Chamonix-summit-Chamonix run)
  • 2014 – Aconcagua
  • 2014 – Denali (Mount McKinley)
  • Summer 2015 – Mount Everest

Summits of My Life Video Trailers

Here’s the video trailer for the project. If this doesn’t get you excited about Kilian’s new set of adventures as well as your own relationship with the places you play, we don’t know what will:

 

And filmmaker Seb Montaz’s take on the project:

Kilian’s Release Describing Summits of My Life

(Jump to French version)

Today I am here to put forward a new project I have had in mind for some time. When I was a child, I had a photo of Cervino on my bedroom wall, I read Mesner’s books and I used to flick through my parents’ photos searching for mountains to dream about. This project has its roots in that time but it has been dormant until today.

Summits of my Life is a 4-year project, in which we intend to run the length of the world’s greatest mountain ranges, trying to climb and descend some of the most spectacular mountains in the world as quickly as possible.

By no means does this project mean that I am leaving Trail Running or mountain skiing behind. On the contrary, given my passion for mountains, I want to pioneer the most alpinist part of my being and I believe I am now ready to attempt this.

The project will start off this summer with two itineraries at the birthplace of Alpinism, where the very first climbers began to dream of reaching summits. Both will be in the Mont Blanc mountain range. The first will be on skis from Champex to Contamines, reaching some of the most important summits and doing some of the most spectacular descents. Stephane and Mateo will ski alongside me. The second will be from Courmayeur to Chamonix reaching the summit of Mont Blanc, ascending the Italian southern face and descending the northern face.

In 2013, I’m going to attempt to break ascent and descent records of the most important summits in Europe, beginning with the highest, Mount Elbrus, in Russia. The next one, Mount Cervino, is possibly the most difficult to break, with an impressive time of 3h14m achieved by Bruno Brunod. At a technical level and in terms of risk taking, this mountain will definitely be the toughest. The last attempt in 2013 will be to do Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix, for which P.A.Goblet’s record has held since 1990.

In 2014, we are going to cross the Atlantic to reach the two highest American summits: Mount Aconagua in South America with its nearly 7,000m altitude and famous winds and Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska, a summit with especially tough weather conditions.

The target for 2015 will be to climb up and down Mount Everest as fast as possible

I am a competitor. I like to compete, to go beyond, to search for my limits. This is the reason why this project is based on striving to break records and to do fast ascents of those mountains that mean most to me. But records and times should only be important whilst running. Once back at the bottom, they should vanish. They serve to stimulate you, to find the limits inside yourself; they should be a mere intrinsic motivation. This is why this project is not only about breaking records or climbing up and down mountains fast and with little equipment. It is also about transmitting values. I don’t mean to say they are the right values, the ones to follow, but they are the ones I was given and those I want to pass on.

Violoncello player Lluís Claret once told me some words I will never forget. “The voice of many people is in your sound…Our sound, our voice, is also the testimony of those we have admired and loved, those who have influenced and taught us.” Mountains have taught me a great deal, I owe them who I am, and also those who showed me the way to know the mountains, those who took me there and those I took there. They all filled my life with certain values, and it wouldn’t make sense to break records without them.

The team taking part in this project is equally small. Apart from myself, there is Sebastien Montaz, who is going to shoot the films with little equipment, trying to find spectacular images. Here is a video he has prepared to show you the philosophy underlying the films he intends to shoot during this project.

Apart from Seb, there is the Lymbus team, led by Jordi, who will be in charge of all communication with the media and who will find the way to make this project possible.

In some mountains I will count on the help of good friends and renowned alpinists, Jordi Tosas and Jordi Corominas, whom I totally respect and trust. I thank them for their experienced guidance.

Likewise, and although this is an entirely personal venture, the brands which are supporting me know about the project and will be backing me in my challenge. On some occasions, and given the particular nature of the project, very special equipment will be required which we will work on together with these brands. I also thank them for their trust and support in this endeavour.

Given the magnitude of this project, we are looking for a main sponsor to help us guarantee that it will be carried out. Over the last months, efforts have been focused on technical aspects. As of now, an important challenge begins which is to find the resources to carry it out. But, as we always say, willingness can move mountains.

This is an open project because you never know what tomorrow might bring, let alone the next 4 years. Many friends, local guides, people from the different regions will give me a hand with the routes, logistics, training or cheering me on at each challenge. We won’t pick the best or fastest alpinists or managers. Instead, those who accompany us will be friends and those who have trained and shared adventures with me.

Simplicity is the other value I wish to put forward. There is no doubt that technique and technology aid man to reach far and run fast but what for? Walter Bonatti distinguished between “Man’s alpinism” and “Technique’ alpinism.” We’ll try to be as naked as possible in the presence of nature, with the least possible equipment so as to feel and face the mountain with no intermediaries. Great means are not necessary to do the things that fill one the most. The simpler the means, the more personal and greater the value we lay on them.

The idea I will try to convey throughout all this time is that we are part of this world, just one more part, no more or less important, just like any animal, stone or tree. We are all equally significant. “The Earth is not an inheritance from our ancestors, but a heritage for our children.” (Indian proverb). We’ll try to be as silent as possible in the mountains, so that our steps are hardly heard, and as ecological and economical as possible.

And finally, a sentence by the great writer Pablo Cohelo, “There is only one thing that stops dreams from coming true; the fear of failure.” I am aware this is a very ambitious and hard project. But one must be ambitious, know where the hazards are and risk failure. Without trying, dreams remain dreams, and we’ll never know who we really are. In the end, we’ll understand the dream is not about breaking records, but rather about the ways to reach the summit, and failure isn’t about not reaching the summit or stopping the chronometer a few minutes later, but about not being able to take this path.

To finish this presentation, I’d like to show you some images. There will be very few of us on the mountains during the ventures, but we’ll show you what the mountains and the people we meet teach us. So at the end of each season, in October-November, some short films (5-8 minutes long) will be displayed on our website. And during the autumn, a longer film will be produced summarizing the experiences of each season.

To start with, and as an image is worth a thousand words, here are some images that will show you better what I mean.

Call for Comments

What do you think of Kilian’s new project?

PS. Bonus comic on Summits of My Life (French).

Summits of My Life - Kiian Jornet

Official Summits of My Life Release en Français

Ce que je viens présenter aujourd’hui, c’est un nouveau projet que j’ai dans ma tête depuis longtemps. Je pense que depuis que j’étais enfant et je regardais dans ma chambre une photo du Cervin, je lisais les libres de Mesner, je regardais des photos de montagne de mes parents qui me faisaient rêver… depuis ce moment il est né dans mon esprit e flambeau de ce projet qui a été en sommeil jusqu’à maintenant.

Le projet Summits of my life va durer 4 ans, pendant ce temps, nous allons visiter les massifs les plus importants du monde et tener les récords d’ascention et descente de quelques unes des montagnes les plus spectaculaires qui existent.

L’approche de ce projet ne signifie pas que je vais arrêter les compétitionsde Trail running ou ski alpinisme, mais étant donné ma passion pour les montagnes, je veux vous présenter ma partie plus montagnard, et je pense que je suis prêt à essayer.

Nous allons commencer cet été avec 2 traversées, dans le berceau de l’alpinisme, où les premiers alpinistes ont commencé à rêver de conquérir les sommets. Ce sont deux traversées dans le massif du Mt Blanc. Le premier sur les skis des Contamines à Champex, qui relie les sommets les plus importants du massif et quelques-unes des descentes les plus spectaculaires. Ce voyage je le ferais avec deux amis, Stéphane et Mathéo. Le second sera de Courmayeur à Chamonix en passant par le sommet su Mont-Blanc. En montant du côté sud, de l’Italie et descendant la face nord.

En 2013, je vais essayer battre les récords de montée et descente des sommets européens les plus importants, à commencer par le plus élevé, le mont Elbrus en Russie. Puis sans doute le plus difficile des récords, le Cervin, où Bruno Brunod a marqué un temps impressionnant de 3h14! Ce sera la technique et la prise de risque sans doute la plus difficile. La dernière de l’année 2013 sera d’essayer le Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix, où le récord de PA Goblet dure depuis 1990.

En 2014, nous allons traverser l’Atlantique pour trouver les deux plus hauts sommets en Amérique, l’Aconcagua en Amérique du Sud, avec près de 7.000m et son fameux vent, et Mk McKinley ou Denali en Alaska, un sommet avec des conditions météorologiques difficiles .

En 2015, l’objectif sera d’essayer de monter et descendre l’Everest le plus rapidement possible.

Je suis un compétiteur, j’aime la compétition, allant au-delà a la recherche de mes limites. C’est cela qui explique le pourquoi du projet d’essayer les récords des montagnes m’ont le plus marqué. Mais les récords, les marques, doivent seulement être importants que quand nous courons, une fois nous sommes descendus du sommet, ils doivent disparaitre. Ils doivent servir pour me motiver, a chercher dans l’intérieur quels sont mes limites, doivent être seulement une motivation intrinsèque. C’est pourquoi le projet est non seulement les tentatives de battre certaines marques ou gravir des sommets le plus rapidement avec peu de matériel. Il s’agit de transmettre des valeurs. Ce sont pas les valeurs absolus, les corectes, mais ces qu’on m’a transmis et je veux transmettre.

Il ya une phrase que Lluis Claret (violoncelliste) m’a dit un jour et m’a beaucoup marquée: “Dans leur son, il y a la voix de beaucoup de gens … Notre son, notre voix, est également le témoignage des personnes qui ont a admiré et aimé, qui nous ont enseigné et influencé ” La Montagne m’a appris beaucoup de choses, Ce que je suis aujourd’hui, c’est grâce a elle, et aussi grace a ces qui m’ont appris a la connaitre, a ces qui m’ont amené et ces qui j’ai amené. Et tous eux, m’ont fait vivre avec ces valeurs, et il n’existerait de sens a battre des récords si n’est avec eux.

L’équipe qui va former ce projet es aussi léger. Il y a, mis a part moi même, Sebastien Montaz, qui va réaliser les films et épisodes, en travaillant avec peu de matériel pour chercher des images spectaculaires mais aussi intimes. Je vous présente donc une vidéo qu’il a fait pour présenter la philosophie qu’on veut donner aux films autour du projet.

L’équipe de Lymbus, avec Jordi, va être le responsable de la communication, la presse et qui va a chercher la formule que tout ça sois réalisable.

Dans les différents sommets il y aura des collaborations de nombreuses personnes, des Stephane Brosse, Mathéo Jacquemoud, JeanSé Knozer, Vivian Bruchez, Alessandro Stella, ma sœur… Dans certain sommets j’aurais aussi l’aide ce deux amis et reconnus alpinistes comme Jordi Colominas et Jordi Tosas, qui je remercie qu’ils me « guident » avec sa expertise.

De la même façon et même si c’est un projet totalement personnel, les marques qui m’aident sont au courant et j’ai toute sa confiance et support pour l’essayer. En certaines montagnes, la difficulté du terrain demande des équipements très spécifiques dont je travaille avec eux, et je les remercie pour cette confiance.

Donnée la grandeur du projet on est en train de chercher un sponsor principal qui nous aide a réaliser avec des garanties le projet. Les derniers mois, on a travaillé beaucoup dans la partie technique. A partir maintenant s’initie aussi un autre challenge, celui de trouver les recours pour le réaliser, mais comme on dit toujours, avec de l’illusion rien n’est impossible.

Une autre valeur dont je veux transmettre c’est celui de la simplicité, sans doute, l’homme est-il capable avec de la technique et la technologie d’arriver très loin, très rapide. Mais a quoi nous sert ? Walter Bonatti avais mis « L’Alpinisme de l’homme en front de l’alpinisme de la technique » On va essayer d’enlever l’innécessaire, et rester le plus nus en front la nature, avec le minimum d’équipement possible, pour se sentir corps à corps avec la montagne, sans intermédiaires, On n’a pas besoin de grands moyens, grandes choses pour réaliser ce qui nous remplit. Comme plus simple, plus personnelle soit, plus grande sera la valeur qu’on ressentira.

Sur tout, pendant tout ce temps, ce que je vais essayer de montrer c0est qu’on est une partie de ce monde, une partie de plus, ni plus ni moins importante qu’un rocher, un animal o un arbre, dont chaque partie a son importance. « La terre n’est pas un heritage de nos parents mais un emprunte de nos enfants » (proverbe indien) On essayera d’être le plus silencieux dans la montagne, que nos pas ne se marquent pas, en essayant d’être aussi le plus écologiques et économiques possibles.

Et pour finir, une sentence du grand écrivain Pablo Cohelo « Seul une chose devient le rêve impossible ; la peur a échouer » Je sais que c’est un projet très ambitieux, très difficile, mais il faut être ambitieux, connaître ou sont les risques et risquer a échouer. Si on n’essaye pas, si les rêves restent rêves, jamais on va connaître la personne qu’on est. A la fin, on comprendra que le rêve ne sont pas les records, mais les sentiers empruntés pour gravir chaque sommet, et l’échec, ne sera pas coroner ou pas un sommet, ou arrêter le chrono quelques minutes plus tard, mais n’être pas capables de prendre ce chemin.

Et pour finir la présentation, je veux vous présenter quelques images, car, si pendant les tentatives on sera peux, dans les montagnes, on va faire pour vous montrer ce que ces montagnes et les personnes qu’on se retrouvera nous apprendront. Et, au finir chaque saison, en octobre-novembre, on vous présentera une série d’épisodes (5-8 min) dans le site web et réaliser un film de longue durée, pour que vous puisez aussi marcher dans nos pas.

There are 40 comments

  1. David T

    Very exciting. More mountaineer than runner indeed. In that regard, I find it interesting that he continues to return to Western States, which he himself has referred to as a "flat" course. I have never run it, but it must have some kind of draw to keep pulling a mountaineer like Kilian back. It also shows his versatility.

    Enjoy this project, Kilian!

  2. Mark

    Given Kilian's unparalleled achievements it was a matter of time for him to go beyond traditional framework of skyrunning. He begins a new era in mountain sports. A Pioneer.

  3. Dean G

    Good for Kilian.

    I guess given his priorities a choice like this shouldn't be a surprise. I find it interesting that Salomon isn't involved, although perhaps this is more of an opportunity for a company that specializes more in real climbing gear? (If Salomon does, I apologize)

    As a fan of Ultras, I will miss seeing him at races, because I think he is a great representative of the sport, not to mention the kind of athlete that raises the level of competition where ever he goes.

    But he has (much) bigger fish to fry.

  4. Charles Miske

    Salomon has made ice climbing boots in the past, and makes ski boots that work as ice climbing boots. The XA 3D series trail running shoes/boots work great and run well in crampons. I wore a pair of the XA 3D Pro GTX with crampons in Elbrus Race 2010.

    Just sayin'

  5. Jeremy

    Denali in November should be interesting. Typo?

    I'm guessing he will be dashing up the lower Kahiltna and up the WButt if he is trying for a record. By November, the summer's snow bridges will have melted and probably been replaced by powdery, unstable bridges that are invisible. He will be un-tethered if he is racing. Really…typo?

    During the climbing season- April to July-ish, the crevasses are mostly visible and a trench is groomed by thousands of footsteps most of the way up.

  6. Alex from New Haven

    Honestly the 2013+ projects really scare me. All of these have a real chance of death that is amplified by incorporating elements of speed over incredibly technical 8000 meter terrain. Denali ain't Kilimanjaro…

    I would rather have a 45 year old Kilian finally starting to slow down than another genius climber/athlete/musician dead before their time.

    1. Mike

      Agree. Exceptional trail running ability does not mean you have the skill set to undertake these true mountaineering efforts – Kilian or anyone else. After last weeks deaths on Everest, the hubris of a solo speed record there seems questionable. If you're lucky, the consequence for a mistake on Denali or Everest would be frost bite. There are so many exceptional avenue's for Kilian to apply his obvious and unique talents (Hardrock, Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, etc.), let alone getting a life outside of SkiMo and trail running. There is a difficult and rewarding accomplishment in balancing professional, family, and personal goals – just saying, running isn't the only thing in life.

        1. Dean G

          Agreed.

          Lest we forget, running is Kilian's Hobby. He got into it as a way to improve his ski-mo and his climbing. The stuff he's been doing since like… birth.

          The guy is doing what he wants and what he loves. I think he's proven he's not the type to take mountains for granted. There will be risks for sure. But I don't get the sense he's going to approach these events like some maniac with a born-to-die tattoo on his arm.

          1. Alex from New Haven

            Everest kills plenty of people, many of whom are/were experienced mountaineers who in no way took the mountains for granted.

            I hope he is successful and more importantly safe. I don't know what adequate prep for Denali/Everest looks like, but I don't think he can do ski-mo and trailrunning in 2014/2015 and seriously prepare. He's got to take those years to get DEEP into technical mountaineering.

            He's doing what he loves, but ALSO as part of an epic PR campaign. Is he going to get honest/prudent advice and feedback with all this money invested from whatever companies are involved? I hope his no-BS parents/friends are there to step in and say "No, this is too much" is he's pushing the boundaries.

            1. Yeti

              The idea of this adventure really is exciting and I am interested in seeing how it all plays out. I have to agree with Alex and Mike though, he's attempting a lot of very dangerous projects that have killed or maimed many a fine mountaineer that weren't trying to set some kind of a speed record. It's his choice, his life to do with as he chooses, but as an outsider looking in it does sound pretty extreme(and not in the Mountain Dew way)and I am quite concerned for his safety. As to Dean's comment that he's not one to take the mountains for granted, well…I hope there's no oversight like the one at States where he didn't carry water. No big deal with aid stations every 5-10 miles, but a mistake like that on Everest or Denali and we all know what the outcome will be. Hopefully fate does favor the bold. Best of luck Killian!

      1. David T

        Kilian has extensive experiance climbing in the Alps. He is not a rookie. This is not to say that what he is trying to do is safe or easy but we should not assume that he is some inexperianced rookie who has no idea what he is getting into.

  7. Sam Winebaum

    The record up and down Mount Blanc is a beaut. 5:12 round trip, 3:38 up 1:34 down 12700 feet of vertical! held since 1990 by Pierre Alain Gobet of Switzerland who also won Sierre Zinal twice and held the record on that classic course. I knew and ran with Gobet in the early 80's when I lived in Switzerland. He was a sub 2:20 marathoner who like all of us mixed it up with lots of road races, track, mountain races, and fun.

  8. olga

    And the real stud will be Seb Montaz, going ahead to set up and film Killian:) Really, great things for them all, and kind of glad they say it's not tied up to a single company behind, even if they do get support through various vendors. Makes it personal.

    1. Reid Landes

      I was telling a friend about this project. And, like mine, his first thought was: "Kilian may be a good and all, but I'd like to see the photographer go at it!"

      Seriously, how will one photographer get the work done?

        1. deeago

          Faster than Tony Krupicka during the 100m downhill speed contest at La Palma… right?

          Ah, while filming of course.

  9. manu

    For sure a great challenge for Kilian… It will be very difficult, but not impossible, because as somebody reminds you have to keep in mind Kilian is more an alpinist than a trail runner.

    For those who have not seen it, look at the video of Kilian and two other great ski-alpinist racers crossing the Aravis mountains (just 3 days before the transvulcania !) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed… It is beautiful, but some slopes are incredibly steep and it will give you a glance of the kind of danger Kilian already takes…

  10. mayayo

    Mark,

    Kilian is the best skyrunner in racing history, true enough.

    Yet, in terms of skyrunning records at the mountains he is still way behind Bruno Brunod´s legendary achievementes from 1995 to 2005 in mountains all over the world.

    Bruno set skyrunnning records at Kilimanjaro with 5h38m (not quite toppled by Kilian last year); Mount Elbert (1h54m toppled by Jornet in 2010); Aconcagua (5h57m), Matterhorn (3h14m), Monte Rosa (4h45m)…he even made it to 8.300m in Everest back in 2005.

    If you would like to know more about current official skyrunning records as well as how Jornet is taking on Brunod´s standing records at Matterhorn, Aconcagua an everest, check here http://trailrunningspain.wordpress.com/2012/05/30

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