29 Nov 2014

Meet the world’s fastest mountain runner

Kilian Jornet was born to be in the mountains. Heralded as the world’s best at his extreme calling, next week he flies to the Andes to try and set the speed record for scaling Aconcagua.

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern Hemispheres at 22,837 feet and Channel 4 News caught up with the Catalan mountain runner before he set off on his latest adventure.

In 2013 Jornet broke the record for running up and down Mont Blanc from Chamonix, France: bottom to top and back again in under five hours.

It’s dangerous, of course it’s dangerous, but it’s a choice. I think [in life] you need to make choices. Kilian Jornet

He also ran up and down the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy, starting and finishing in the town of Breuil-Cervinia, Italy, in an astonishing two hours, 52 minutes round-trip.

Jornet took more than 20 minutes off the previous speed record, set back in 1995 by Italian runner Bruno Brunod.

This year he shattered the roundtrip speed record on Alaska’s Mount McKinley (Denali), climbing and descending North America’s highest peak in 11 hours and 40 minutes.

His secret to climbing mountains is going light – he has climbed some of Europe’s highest peaks in little more than a t-shirt, shorts and trainers – but not everyone approves.

‘Choices in life’

Jornet told Channel 4 News: “It’s dangerous [mountain climbing], of course it’s dangerous – if you have an accident you have a problem [because] you don’t have a big team behind you and you don’t have the equipment to get back down.

“But it’s a choice [and] I think [in life] you need to make choices, you need take risks sometimes to grow.”

In 2012, his climbing partner Stéphane Brosse fell to his death while crossing the Aiguille d’Argentière in the Mont Blanc massif when a snow cornice collapsed under him.

Speaking about the tragic death, Jornet said: “I think before the accident I knew that mountains were dangerous and I knew that I could die.

“I don’t approach it differently [now] but I am much more afraid, I think. Fear is so important in the mountains.”

‘Summits of My Life’

Jornet has been recording his adventures in a number of short films for a series called ‘Summits of My Life’ which will culminate in his climb of Mount Everest next year.

“Everyone who does a sport wants to communicate it because your ego is telling you too,” he said.

“I do these [climbs] by myself and then I [want to] film and write about it and then I want to share it, but not because I want people to like it.”

You can follow Kilian Jornet on Twitter @kilianj. Find out more information about Kilian's films at www.sebmontaz.com. With thanks to @sebastienmontaz