Kilian Jornet Sets New Speed Record on Denali

Denali Mt McKinley

Endurance athlete Kilian Jornet is up to his old tricks, this time in Alaska. The man who is known for moving very fast in mountain environments set a new speed record on Denali last Friday, cruising up, and down, the West Buttress in an unbelievable 11 hours and 40 minutes. That beats the old record, held by Ed Warren, by 5 hours and 6 minutes.

According to reports, Jornet spent about a month on Denali acclimatizing for the attempt, and as is typical for the mountain runner, he went as light and fast as possible, climbing with only a small daypack, crampons, and skis. According to the Alpinist article linked to above, he covered 33 miles round trip, and was back in Base Camp 30 minutes ahead of Warren’s pace for simply reaching the summit.

Denali’s West Buttress is the most commonly used route to the summit, which means he had to contend with other traffic on the mountain. June and July are the most popular months to climb Denali, as the weather is at its very best at that time of the year. Due to its extreme latitude, weather conditions can be unpredictable at just about anytime, and the higher air pressure makes the climb feel much higher than it actually is. Denali is the tallest mountain in North America, standing 6168 meters (20,237 ft) in height.

Next up, Jornet would like to turn his attention to Aconcagua and Elbrus, hoping to nab the speed records on both of those mountains as well. Of course, all of this is just a warm-up for the big show. He hopes to attempt the speed record on Everest eventually as well.

At some point I’ll stop being amazed at the things Jornet does in the mountains, and simply just start taking it for granted. This is not that time. The guy is an amazing athlete, and he continues to amaze me with his abilities.

Kraig Becker

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