Mt. Everest season is upon us, as climbers are flocking to the world’s tallest peak and trying to summit it before the spring window closes and the onset of monsoon season makes the summit unreachable. Many have reached the top already, although several mountaineers have died this year, including legendary climber Ueli Steck.
Steck was preparing for a record-breaking assault on the mountain, and while he did not succeed, Spanish ultramarathoner Kilian Jornet claimed an illustrious record for himself this weekend. Jornet announced on Monday that he had succesfully made it from Base Camp to the summit in 26 hours without the use of supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes. He left Saturday night, climbed up the traditional north face route, and finished right around midnight on Sunday, completing all 11,429 feet in just over one day. Most climbers need four days. Right before the summit, Jornet ran into a bout of butt problems and took the last few hundred feet slowly.
I didn’t feel well and I was making slow progress. I had to stop every few meters and I had cramps and was vomiting. In spite of everything, I felt all right at altitude and decided to continue.
He stayed at Advanced Base Camp to recover from his illness after returning from the summit, which prevented him from capturing the record for combined fastest ascent and descent. Jornet’s 26 hours are the fastest known ascent of Everest without the help of extra oxygen or ropes. He tried to break the speed record last fall, but bad weather scuttled the attempt. Jornet has held the fastest known times for several of the world’s most famous mountains, including Everest, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Denali, and the Matterhorn. The Spaniard is also an accomplished skier and ultramarathoner, with record-setting victories at several prominent races such as Western States and the Hardrock 100.