A Fine Line: Kilian Jornet’s First Summits of My Life Film

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Roger Soto Salvador and Carles A. Foguet of the Koala’s Team for attending the world premiere of A Fine Line on behalf of iRunFar. They tweeted the event and have published the following article in Castilian.]

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line

On Monday, a couple of Koalas slipped into the world’s premiere of A Fine Line, the first film of Kilian Jornet’s Summits of My Life project. The presentation took place in the famous modernist building of Palau de la Música in Barcelona. We were equipped with a press accreditation provided by our iRunFar friends (Many thanks!), two smart phones, no journalist experience whatsoever, and our best intentions to provide the best possible coverage.

After hanging around for a bit, we realized we were in the right place when we saw a guy with a camera wearing a pair of Salomon on his feet, another guy with a notebook and a UTMB Finisher’s vest… among dozens of Japanese tourists wearing Barça t-shirts eager to discover the insights of one of the jewels of modernism architecture in Barcelona. Honestly, the average of tourists beat the press by 3 to 1.


A Fine Line official trailer. from Summits of My Life on Vimeo.

The Presentation (This is not a film about mountain climbing!)

Once we were in, Kilian, Seb Montaz, and all the “Summits of My Life” crew got into the rehearsal room of Palau de la Música and the presentation began. Kilian was the first to speak and he briefly introduced the project that many of us already know quite well: A Fine Line is the first film produced about Kilian’s personal project that is going to finish in 2015 at the summit of Mount Everest, after tagging the most important peaks of all continents with his minimalist style and trying to break all the speed records on those peaks along the way. This film specifically revolves around his first two challenges: two traverses of the Mont Blanc (from east to west and from north to south) finished within this current year.

And that’s all folks? Obviously not! As many of us know, this is just an excuse. For those of you who don’t know what we are talking about, you should have a look at the “Summits of My Life” values. This project is not only about peak bagging, even less about doing it faster than anyone else. This project was born from a lifestyle. A lifestyle bound to the mountains and nature, so simple in its essence, but full of emotions and daily challenges. A lifestyle embodied by Kilian that he wants to share with his followers who, in turn, may then find the inspiration to live it, too. We assure you that we did find the inspiration in this film.

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line - running

A good deal of this is our interpretation, as he didn’t talk much. He is the fastest guy in the mountains and being in front of a room full of press he can’t help himself trying to be it, too. You could easily tell he was uncomfortable in front of the press. He gave a rushed and more or less rehearsed speech, looking forward to the moment of pressing play and let the images talk for him: it was pretty obvious for us that he’d rather be in the high snowy peaks than in a warm room full of press and fans.

In the questions round, Seb Montaz got a question he already knew was going to be asked: how did you manage to follow and record someone like Kilian in the mountains? The answer was that he doesn’t know it yet, but the keys are effort and imagination. Then he went on to explain his experience in the project. He met Kilian for the first time only 18 months ago, even though it seems they’ve been friends forever. Seb has become the perfect partner for this project. Not only is he the director of the films, but also the main cameraman, and so the images we will see greatly depend on his physical capacities.

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line - Seb Montez and Kilian

Who can follow Kilian Jornet? No one, we already knew that, but it was funny hearing it from Seb, an experienced alpinist: “When I think I’m running fast, I turn around and I see Kilian walking. I hate it!” We imagine something similar would happen to us if we tried to run in front of Seb, who deserves all credit. Not only has he been able to follow Kilian (closer or far away), but also he’s done it with a camera in his hand. Running or climbing a 4th or 5th class wall. The film attests to his skills and abilities. His choice has been a wise choice; Kilian says it and now so do we.

Everest was, without a shade of doubt, the main subject of the question round. We’re sorry, but having revealed the ultimate goal of this project will be a burden that Kilian will drag over the next three years. Practically no one was interested in the way that has lead up to this final challenge.

As we were able to understand, Kilian is more interested in the way, the emotions and learning experiences that preparing and executing each of the challenges will bring to him than to the end in itself. Records may or may not be set, but for him the experience will be forever. We agree, and, moreover, we are confident that there will be records for many years.

Most of the questions referred to the distant expedition to the roof of the world; distant because it will be in 2015 and because, as of today, he’s not been higher than 6,300 meters (20,700 feet).

His experience in the Himalayas is nonexistent and although he has an intuition about how the final stage of Summits of My Life will be (for which he will count on climbers Jordi Catalan and Jordi Corominas’ help), he could give few details, no matter how much the journalist insisted. In a nutshell: It will be in a minimalist style, the style of Messner, who 30 years ago made the first ascent without oxygen or intermediate camps. And he will try his best to go fast.

He spoke a bit about routes, Norton and Horbein on the north face were mentioned, but he still hasn’t decided and may attempt it via the south face outside peak season. In any case, he made it clear that there will be no fixed ropes or oxygen, and the does not intend to follow the more technical routes, as he doesn’t consider himself a really technical alpinist like Ueli Steck or Simone Moro.

A Short Film That Will Feel Even Shorter

The film doesn’t follow a script, nor does it accomplish the promise of summarizing the two Mont Blanc traverses of this year, is as if they had thrown up in the air all the recordings that they have accumulated since the beginning of the project, with some photos of the young Kilian that his mother always carries with her and, as they fell to the ground, it would be assembly the final film. No consistent chronological or thematic order. It doesn’t matter at all, the film is amazing and we really liked it. Anyway, it is not like we know a thing about cinema.

The movie is a messy album of this first year of the project with just one thread: Kilian Jornet and everything that is important to him, his friends, nature, and the mountains. We don’t want to spoil it, and we want everyone to contribute to the success of this project, but on the screen you’ll see well-known faces as well as not so well-known people together with astonishing landscapes and settings.

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line - ridgeline boot pack

The images are breathtaking, taking full advantage of the technical resources at their disposal. Aerial images that can make you dizzy of really awe-inspiring views. It applauds the ingenuity of the coaching staff to get some pictures of Kilian in action, pictures we don’t normally have any access. Perhaps for the first time, many will be aware of the uniqueness of their endeavor: visioning the risks they go through, inaccessible peaks, millimeter ridges (A fine line!), declines in impossible angles…

In between, we find less glamorous and more ordinary images. A messy room, Mont Blanc drawings, cooking abilities worthy of any student flat, the famous list with all the races Kilian wanted to win and that now is already all crossed-out… This first film humanizes Kilian and makes him more approachable for average people like us. It is a worthy effort when there are some that, for their own interest, seem to be willing to put him on an altar from which he flees whenever he can.

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line - ridge run

And as background sound, a soundtrack of wise words: Kilian himself, his mother and his sister, Stéphane Brosse (the echo of his words lasts in one’s mind as you think about his tragic and sudden loss), Anna Frost, Mireia Miró, Kilian’s first skimo coach… His close circle of friends and family has really understood the athlete’s complexity and helps us better to understand it, too.

Kilian Jornet - A Fine Line - Stephane Brosse

The film probably won’t unveil anything that a Kilian fan doesn’t know. We see again pictures of his childhood, his colorful anorak, his long hair, his world famous bread with Nutella, his caravan… But what this movie does is anticipate everything that will come, and, moreover, helps us understand the whys and wherefores. And just this insinuation makes us to be eager to follow his track until the end of this project, in 2015, on top of Mount Everest.

What is the goal of any endeavor, of any adventure, of life? Is it to reach objectives or just to walk towards them? Is it to catch the horizon or to discover the landscapes we go through? Is life the finisher medal or the emotions and feelings we’ve stock up in our insides? We are forged in dreams, emotions and feelings.

Direction: Sébastien Montaz-Rosset

Production: Lymbus, Montaz-Rosset Film

Original music: Zikali

Script and edition: Kilian Jornet Burgada, Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Katie Moore

Postproduction: Simon Hutchings

Languages & subtitles: Catalan, English, French and Spanish

Length: 52’ + extras

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • Are you excited to watch A Fine Line?
  • If you’ve seen A Fine Line, what did you think?
  • Have you or are you going to support the project?