Additional Insight Into Kilian Jornet’s Summits of My Life

Summits of My Life - Kilian JornetLast week, Kilian Jornet announced his exciting new project, Summits of My Life, which will take him to the summits of many of the world’s most iconic mountains, including Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Denali, Aconcagua, and Everest. We’ve since caught up with Kilian in hopes of gaining a little more insight into his project. Here’s what we found out:

iRunFar: How did you choose the mountains for Summits of My Life? Some of them seem familiar to you, as you’ve spent time on them and you know them, while some are in far-off places you’ve yet to see in person. What were the various appeals of each mountain in the project?

Kilian Jornet: When I was a child, I had a photo of Cervino on my bedroom wall, I read [Reinhold] Messner’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.

iRF: You have a close relationship with your family, so they must support you in your dreams, however big those dreams are. What kinds of reactions and support has your family shown?

Jornet: Yes, my family supports me 100% on this project! Of course, they know that there are some risks, but we have to take it to achieve your dreams. I told in a presentation a sentence by the great writer Pablo Coelho, “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.

iRF: Many people have come to know you first as a ski mountaineer and a mountain/trail runner who finishes at or near the top of whatever competitions you enter. During this project, do you think you’ll still compete in ski and trail running races?

Jornet: 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. And, also, I like the competition and this environment and I don’t want to stop it. Maybe, I’ll have to reduce some races, but when the moment arrives, we will see.

There are 32 comments

  1. dogrunner

    This will be fun to watch unfold. btw, in the Kilian's Quest vid you linked in Bryon, it becomes more apparent that not only is Kilian a great runner (we already knew that), but he is also part squirrel ;) Dang he went up that rock fast!

    1. Jared F

      Have you ever tried climbing a rock or hill like? Holy smokes that is hard! I am looking forward to his coming to AK to climb Denali, that is a tough, tough mountain. Someone should tell him to do a local group run!

  2. MikeC AK

    I hate to be a detractor, but I worry about this project. Serious danger here, but I think I understand the motivation. Two conflicting thoughts I have.

    -This is the next wave of mountaineering, speed/minimalist ascents of the worlds toughest mountains. Should lead to amazing things from superathletes. ie. Ueli steck on Eiger.

    -This is recklass, weather/conditions/rescues are difficult! For example, Denali's weather can limit the best mountaineers in the world in their tent for a week straight.

    I do want to see the results though.

      1. MikeC AK

        On my ascent, they forecasted a 12 weather window on summit day, 4 hours into the window we were battling 70mph winds, which subsided 2 hours later into a 20 foot visibility whiteout.

        Just curious to see how minimalist, self-sufficient, and safe Killian approaches this project.

  3. Girona

    All this starts to be to commercial for my taste.

    I like better stories of regular people doing great things. Balancing a job, a spouse, kids… training and racing.

    Kilian: Bona sort!

    Nick Clark: Update your blog! You better be tapering for WS 100 or we will take back from you Catalan citizenship.

    By the way, a living legend is not some body with a lot of potential that has won a few good races. A living legend would be somebody like Tim Twitmeyer , Scott Jurek, Carpenter or Wyatt.

  4. dave evans

    Girona – I think Kilian is well on his way to being classed as a living legend and the latest project will just add to this

    On a different note what about the footage of Marco De Gasperi on the Kilian's quest teaser – seriously awesome !

  5. Matt

    I am really curious how he plans to pull this off.

    While Mt Blanc or Elbrus are 'hiking/walking' ascents, peaks like Denali or Matterhorn definitely aren't.

    Uli is a world class climber with no problems soloing 5.9 grade.

    Bryon, do you know if Killian has any experience in serious moutain/face climbing?

    Aconcagua has probably the most unpredictible weather on this planet and Everest, well, that's mostly about altitude.

    Sounds awesome, though!

    good luck to you KJ, we will be watching


    1. Bryon Powell

      I don't specifically know Kilian's mountaineering/climbing prowess, but I do know that some of his skimo activities involve roping up and additional technical aspects. Clearly, this hasn't been his focus, but he's not starting at zero. In addition, I know he's got a few very experienced alpinists involved in his effort. Obviously, there's no substitute for years of on mountain experience, but Kilian's got the weather/terrain experience for sure.

    2. Brandon French


      Denali definitely is a walking route if you consider Mont Blanc a walking route. Why would Aconcagua be more dangerous for Kilian than the hordes of "tourist" climbers with very little mountain experience?

      The amount of detraction in comments about this project is unreal. Ya mountain climbing is dangerous but Kilian has TONS of time in the mountains and seems to have a very level head about how he approaches it.

    3. Anonymous

      Uli Steck came within several feet of onsighting solid 5.13 grade VI on ElCapitan, falling only once in 41 pitches, one of the strongest rock climbing performances of all time. Unbelievable achievement!

    4. Anonymous

      Denali by the West Buttress is pretty much a walking route. The ability to move fast makes the route much more feasible and probably safer.

  6. Dean G

    I think Kilian is just following a natural progression.

    He started with Ski-Mo and sky running. And yes, he's a crazy athlete and he wins a lot, so we (WE) assumes those sports were his end goals. But this is a kid who read about Reinhold Messner at night.

    Fast, minimally supported climbs on the world's most enigmatic mountains has been his real goal all along. It represents everything he believes in.

    Those stories about him running up Mt. Blanc for fun a few times in the weeks before UTMB — that's not a guy trying to show-off or scare his rivals — that's who he is. Himself against/with the mountains he loves.

  7. Gerell

    I so agree with the living legend aspect of it. I also agree with those people that HAVE kids, HAVE a full time job(other than running), and HAVE to balance life…I don't think enough credit goes out to those people…i.e. Mackey, Wardian, Samik, Twitmeyer… I was once a professional athlete that had to show up for 3 hours a day to train…. That was my only commitment. I can only imagine what some people would be capable of if all they had to do was run…Although, maybe the "other" obligations create a nice balance and without them maybe a little burnout would occur. Who knows..

  8. Tony Mollica

    Put me down as one who is interested in all of Killian's projects. I don't think his people are going to let him do something that is not safe to do. He'll have all of the support he needs to complete the project safely.

    1. dogrunner

      I too am watching with interest. But none of it is safe and his people or anyone else cannot make it so ;) One can only go in with knowledge and training and awareness and hope to minimize risk. But we are never as in control as we think we are (or want to believe).

  9. Tony

    Matt, you ask some really sensible and informed questions. Just to clarify though, the 'voies normales' on Mont Blanc may be little more than extended walk-ups in mountaineering terms, but I understand that Kilian is planning to traverse the mountain from south (Italian side) to north (Chamonix), and there most certainly are no walk-ups on the south side of Mt Blanc. Any route he chooses on that side will be a committing alpine climb with a serious approach and large implications in the case of retreat in bad weather.

    My impression is not that alpinism is something new for Kilian, but rather something he has been practising all his life alongside his running and ski-mo.

  10. trail running

    Some things are just inherently dangerous so I'm ambivalent about what or anything can be done other than not doing it, balanced with the fact that the whole point is to go minimalist which is contradictory. I'm excited for the results though too kilian vs everest with messner in context. Also the kilian vs pikes peak with carpenter in context coming up. Of course all this might end up not happening for other reasons but still. The dude will throw down anywhere and he's shown it, not worried about coming in bridesmaid in unfamiliar territory with his already prodigious reputation that's what really impresses me about him. It must be the vo2max talking :)

  11. deeago

    Stephan Brosse died yesterday after falling down the Aguille d'Argentiere during the first record attempt of Klian: the Mount Blanc crossing.

    Deep sorrow to his family and friends.

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