Kilian Jornet Everest Speed Records – Questions Raised? And a response!

When Kilian Jornet doubled up on Everest in one week, the world looked on in wonder. Everest was the culmination of his ‘Summits of My Life Project’ and while he had some serious challenges on the Matterhorn, Denali, Aconcagua and so on, Everest was a whole new ball game.

In 2016 he didn’t summit due to bad weather and then in 2017 he seized the opportunity after a troublesome first ascent, he went again just days later.

I never questioned Kilian’s ascents.

I know the man, have spent time with him and he is 100% integrity. I have no question. So, am I impartial? I guess no.

I received an email in August from Dan Howitt who sent out documents to the media (pdf here) and he raised questions over Kilian’s Everest attempts. I discussed this doc with Kilian, looked at the evidence and while some valid points were made, I had no doubts over what Kilian had achieved.

Now, on everst1953.co.uk an article has appeared HERE. This article is as it says at the top, Submitted article by a person who wishes to be anonymous

UPDATE December 15th – The above article has been removed from everest1953 after the  web owner/ website moderator received threatening emails. This is completely unacceptable and is not in the spirit of any sport. It is important to allow free speech and allow people a voice. If that voice is correct or wrong is for us as individuals to decide. This article provided an opinion and below, Kilian has responded.

What is interesting, is that any journalist should ask questions. So I asked a question on the ‘anonymous’ journalist… to clarify the everest1953 site owner and I assume moderator, Colin Wallace, introduces the article, ‘Kilian Jornet Everest Speed Climbs’ in the ‘News’ as below:

I think it is good that questions are asked and raised over any record, FKT, or whatever it may be. But I also think that responses are required to provide perspective.

Like I said previously, I am a little biased, I have no question on Kilian’s claims. I emailed him, and in response he has provided the following (below) which will also be released via his agents, Lymbus.

In addition, Kilian has agreed to a full and in-depth interview this coming Friday December 15th and we will discuss the claims, Everest and all the details. This will be released on Talk Ultra podcast the same day.

KILIAN JORNET has responded accordingly with a PDF document

GPS track:

I was using Suunto Ambit Peak, to be sure that it recorded a maximum of hours (in altitude – cold, batteries last much less- some using garmin couls only recorded 4h! ) I was using mode GPS OK – It takes between 80-100h normally, so the gps it may records every 10’’:

1st Ascent: Everest Base Camp -Summit 26h31’ – ABC 36h

http://www.movescount.com/moves/move159990476 It is recorded all the uphill to summit and downhill to 8300m where battery die. Is a track for all the way. In the profile of altitude around 8600m you can see it is a straight 200m jump in altitude, maybe pressure decrease from day to night, and then continue climbing up 300 more meters.

2nd Ascent: ABC-Summit 17h – ABC -28h

http://www.movescount.com/moves/move159990614 I don’t know why it only recorded the downhill, but you can see from point 8750m and all the part in the downhill where I get lost in the N face and back to normal route. I did change watch from recording activity to navigation ( you can see where I get lost in the night so I use that mode to find way back safe) maybe that has something to do with the stop recording ascent and only the downhill.

Photos/ video:

Photos and film have non been public to have exclusive material for a coming film. Seb Montaz was filming with a drone from North col, so reaching an altitude of 7300m. I had a GoPro and filmed some parts during the day, and both sunsets (1st ascent before 2nd steep at 8600 and 2nd ascent at the beginning of summit pyramid at 8750). On the 1st summit I have filmed on the top (possible to see the flags just behind me on the dark. In 2nd summit I did not film on top, I was more concerned on safety and go down fast as weather was really bad, but I took 2 pictures of my watch so you can see where with the camera gps.

Here just some *screen shots from 2nd ascent between 8700m and 8790 at sunset and a bit higher at beginning of the night. All the GoPro shots are gps and time positioned so we can see the exact place they were shoot ( summit and all the other positions and hours).

*images withheld but available in due course (they have been retained to be exclusive for the film).

Witnesses:

1st ascent: On the way up I pass the Russian (7 summit club), Indian (Transcend), British and polish climber expedition going to or installing Camp 3, they prepare for sleeping and I continue up after a 10’ pause in a rock. On the summit I saw lights both on north side and south side coming up, north were higher. On the way down I pass some expeditions (Indian I think were the 1st ones) on the beginning of summit pyramid (after 3rd steep-8750) at around 1:30 – 2AM. It was some fresh snow there in the pyramid and to the summit so they saw my fresh snow tracks all the way to summit. Then I cross most part of the people (Russians, Polish, British…) were climbing 2nd steep when I was going down. In the climb I opened track on some snow so they could follow my tracks to the summit, as it was not strong wind this day. Sherpas from Indian expedition rapport at Base Camp sawing my fresh tracks to the summit, as I was alone to climb the night and they were the 1st to go up, in the final pyramid they could see my only tracks to the top.

2nd ascent: Going up I cross a climber ******** (name withheld but available)  and the Japanese expedition going down before camp 3 (8.350). Around 2nd steep at the afternoon I cross ******* and *********expedition going down (they film me). The last ones I cross was the Russian expedition just some meters higher (between 2nd and 3rd step). During the night it was strong wind and some snow fall, not any lights both on north or south on higher parts. On the way down I did not pass anybody since it was bad weather and much snow on the mountain and all expeditions was down to ABC.

Timmings:

I decided timings strategy based on my 15/06 training up to 8400m: http://www.movescount.com/ moves/move159296004 Going up from ABC (6300) to 8400 in 6h. And thinking on being on the summit around 3 PM (to use the warmest part of the day on the upper part, and since I wanted to try to minimize to meet lot of people on the higher part and the steeps ). On 1st attempt I was stomach sick so I slowed down a lot after 7800m, and became much late in the top, I was not planning night but since I feel good on not having edema and was not cold I never thought I was risking my life. On the 2nd attempt I was climbing better but fresh snow and bad weather (forecast was not accurate and became bad weather) and also I was more tired from previous days, it ended with summiting just after sunset.

Sat phone / fixed ropes and style:

I didn’t want to carry sat phone or radio, It was a choice of style for me. Climbing alone and with not any link to the base camp or “home” to be the sole on taking decisions up there, it was a matter of style.
For the fixed ropes, I don’t say I did an Alpine style climb since it is ropes in the route, but I choose to don’t use them to progress or safety. I was climbing without any harness or carabiner, I did climb the 1st and 2nd ladder on the sides, I took the 3rd one since the only creak to climb this part is behind (need to remove) the ladder. The 3rd step I climbed some meters to the left on a snow and ice slope, and go down the normal gully.

If it is a lack of images or communication from the expedition it was a matter of choice of style. I could had organized a big expedition, with sherpas on the route to have some assistance (safety and food, clothes) and some cameras with O2 waiting on some points and summit to have nice images. I could had a sat phone call from summit to “announce”. But the major goal of the expedition was far from that. It was for me to see if I was able to climb Everest with no external support (camps, porters, deposits, communication in the mountain…) and by myself (one push, no jumaring…) And to be able to climb as we do in close ranges (Alps, Colorado) in Himalayas, so low

budget (our expenses were 15.000e x person, all included) and doing activity in short time there and doing different ascents during this period. I had not problem to admit when I don’t summit, in Cho Oyu a 2 weeks before I just say I climb to the summit plateau, with no visibility I can not confirm if I actually reach the higher point or I just stand by some sides, In Everest is pretty easy to know if you reach the summit since is a small place at the end of the ridge.

********** names withheld but available

Catch up with Talk Ultra Podcast HERE on Dec 15th and listen to Kilian in his own words.

22 thoughts on “Kilian Jornet Everest Speed Records – Questions Raised? And a response!

    • Except it wasn’t anonymous. Look at the third picture down – it has the author’s name on it. The same person who emailed Ian in August. That name was certainly there when I read this on Sunday.

  1. There are several questions which stay open! First, the altitude of the 1 moves count track is manually put in 8848m. Everybody who uses movescount knows how to manually put into the altitude. I have been on 100s of summits and no track gave exactly the altitude of the summit…f.ex. Mont Blanc 4808m can be on the watch 4790m or 4900m…so why does he put it in? I think to show people who are not 100% in the game that its a prove but its completely lying cause the track stops at 8593m…
    If he has photos and go pro footage he should show us. Not saying its exclusively for the video please, which video? I have seen nothing.
    Next point which shows really good the strategy: Cho Oyu.
    First he said he climbed to the summit plateau. It was all white, but he thinks he was on the summit. Sorry the summit plateau i 1km wide. In whiteout you don’t know where the summit is. I’m 100% sure that he has there also the gps track but he is hiding it. Ok in the first media releases he didn’t claimed to have the summit, but after climbing everest he says: Well not a bad holiday 3 8000m summits 2 times Everest 1 time Cho Oyu. Its the same, here he knows that 95% of his followers who are not 100% in the game don’t ask further questions. But how can you claim later a summit, which you pretty sure haven’t climbed?
    I think Kilian is one of the strongest endurance athletes of the world but he is hiding too much. He is playing a marketing game which is not fair, and its proven that he is hiding many things in his records before. F.ex.: when making the speed record of Inominata Spur he put in fixed ropes before on the difficult parts, this is cheating. But only the promille of people who know the details won’t tell because they are afraid to get in trouble with this great sportsman.
    I give a sentence known about Ueli Steck and thats the same with Kilian:
    “Kilian is like a swiss bank too big too fail”. People are afraid to critizise the big athletes.
    I hope that he can bring some proofs otherwise I think it’s too many arguments against him.

  2. thx for pointing this out, a good example of bad journalism! somewhat sad that this piece apparently forced a response…keep up your good work!

  3. Ian/Killian, have you considered whether the datum/grid the commenter used when he plotted the data is the same as that used in the watch during the climb?

  4. Pingback: Mountain, Ultra, Trail and Skyrunning Review of 2017 | iancorless.com – Photography, Writing, Talk Ultra Podcast

  5. Ian – great to hear that you area taking an interest and plan to have a discussion with Kilian. Forgive me for not knowing this but have you climbed Everest from the N side and, ideally, without oxygen?

    I think it’s really important for Kilan’s sake too that an interview like this dispels doubt rather than leave it lingering so if you have not I’d suggest you get someone on board quickly who has as none of us who have not been there can truly appreciate or make an informed judgement about what is possible and reasonable.

    • Mark, I wouldn’t worry. I will do OK. This is not about how hard climbing Everest is with or without oxygen, N Side, S Side, with sherpas, without sherpas, aided or un-aided and so on. It is about the bigger picture, the SOML project and ‘if’ as questioned, KJ reached the summit twice. Also, what records he set and does he have proof. So, climbing from the N. Side without oxygen and if I have tried it is actually not important and to be honest, I think it is better for all that both KJ and myself have a more basic discussion, so that everyone , climber or not, can understand.

      • At this point, I’ll just say that I see it differently. This falls squarely into the realms of a mountaineering endeavour rather than a running one and I was merely suggesting that if you are setting yourself up as the person to get to the “real truth” you would do well to include someone from that realm.

        If Kilian has GPS/timestamp tagged images or other hard evidence he can share with select people then maybe its not an issue.

      • Thanks for the thoughts. Like I said, it is no issue but of course you are welcome to see it differently. Plus, you make the mistake considering it mountaineering, it’s Alpinism, nit the same! Mountaineers would never consider going as fast and light as Kilian. Like I said, I will do fine. The real truth is the truth, you don’t need to be a mountaineer, climber, alpinist etc to get the truth – you just need answers.

      • I agree with Mark. I think Killian probably reached the summit, but unless he has hard evidence to share, I think it’s unlikely that a “general” conversation focused on basics will be convincing.

        That said, this still sounds like an interesting and fun conversation to listen to, and of course you can have whatever conversation you want to. Convincing people may not be your only goal, after all.

      • I think it is for me to discuss SOML, Kilian’s aporoach, his style, how tackled Everest, what worked and what didn’t and so on. I want to inform the listeners of this. Proving he summited Everest is down to Kilian and his sponsors… This is something that can be discussed in a podcast but the ‘proving’ will come from another source, be that Kilian, Salomon, Suunto or whoever.

  6. Pingback: Episode 148 – KILIAN JORNET SPECIAL | iancorless.com – Photography, Writing, Talk Ultra Podcast

  7. Hi Ian,
    just as an addition: The letter of Dan Howitt does is no longer available on “Mount Everest. The British Story”. The pdf of the letter is gone as well.

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