It IS literally difficult to get hold of ace ski mountaineer and sky runner Kilian Jornet after he broke the 24-hour uphill ski record to climb 23,864 meters (78,274 ft) in February. It is simply because in March, the Spaniard, now based in Norway’s Rauma welcomed a baby girl into the world with his partner Emelie Forsberg. However, a few days ago, he announced that he will not be participating in the Hardrock 100 ultramarathon in July later this year.
Famously called a superhuman, his achievements are beyond the understanding of many. Experts are still trying to figure out how he managed to run to the top of Mount Everest twice in one week in May 2017. However, the increduility is not stopping Kilian, as he is always running and using his bare hands with a mountain goat-grip to maneouver along ridges and tough terrains. While the ski stick is one of his many companions, it is the unmistakable GoPro camera mounted on his head which is hard to miss. He says the camera helps him get a geo-location for his pictures to know where he is at any point in the run up to the top.
Being the Snowman
Growing up in a mountain hut in the Pyrenees (mountain range sharing borders with Spain and France) running and skiing comes naturally to Kilian, as his parents always took him outdoors to let him discover nature and play sports at the same time. “I like the polyvalence and being able to combine different sports throughout the year,” says the 31-year-old who is on a personal project called ‘Summits of my Life’ where he tries to create ascent and descent records for all the major peaks in the world. The peaks include the likes of Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn and Mount Everest, which he set the record for in 2017.
Intrigued by his varying achievements, it is only fair to ask the man how he managed to break the uphill ski record recently. One of the biggest challenges, Kilian claims to face is, ironically boredom. “Doing the ‘hamster’ (looping around a slope or mountain) is not that exciting, so fighting boredom can be an issue,” reveals Kilian.
The athlete, also a trail and long-distance runner, said in the four days before the challenge, he didn’t train much. He only ran and skied one hour each, along with climbing a summit before making the final run.
However, being focused is also important, he adds, “I set myself short goals like – get to the end of the flat, the steep section and the off-piste. And on a bigger scale, I set short-term goals like doing only two loops till I reach 20,000 metres.” While these goals will make any person including amateur ski mountaineers dizzy, Kilian says he divides his training in the year into two seasons – November to May for Skiing and May to October for Trail Running. Training for 20-30 hours a week, he said it is also important for aspiring ski mountaineers to get adequate training recovery.
With the discipline becoming big in India, he said it is essential to not only have a good ski technique but for them to also know their surroundings and the mountain very well. “Start slow and focus on the key factors to include getting intel about the weather forecast, the gear and the knowledge of being able to read the terrain.”