New Speed Record Set on Denali

The climbing season on Denali is in full swing and has been so for the past month or so. Standing 6190 meters (20,310 feet) in height, the mountain –– which was formerly known as Mt. McKinley –– is the highest peak in North America and a significant tune-up climb for those heading to Everest. Each year it draws hundreds of climbers during the spring and early summer, particularly those who are looking to climb the Seven Summits. Last week, one of those climbers set a new speed record for going from Base Camp to the summit and back again, breaking the five year-old mark set by none other than Kilian Jornet.

Outside Online reports that Swiss-Ecuadorian climber Karl Egloff, who has broken several of Jornet’s records in the past, pulled off yet another lightening-fast ascent on Denali. In this case, he set off from BC at 7:00 AM local time last Thursday and reached the summit of Denali in 7 hours, 40 minutes. That’s an impressive mark for sure, but to put things in perspective that’s 2 hours and 5 minutes faster that Jornet, who is widely seen as the fasted mountain runner around right now. Once he topped out, Egloff didn’t spend much time celebrating however, as he had to return to Base Camp to complete the record run. He was at a disadvantage on the descent however as Jornet used skies to get back down the mountain while Egloff traveled on foot. He would see his two-hour lead start to vanish on the return trip, but in the end he was able to complete the round-trips journey in 11 hours, 44 minutes. That gave him the new record by just one minute.

Despite the fact that Outside Online called Egloff  “obscure alpinist,” he’s only an unknown if you haven’t been paying attention. Sure, he isn’t as famous as Killian, but that’s only because he doesn’t have as good of a PR team. We’ve reported on Egloff’s exploits numerous times here at The Adventure Blog, noting that he has already broken a number of records set by Jornet. Egloff hopes to set speed records on each of the Seven Summits, and now owns those marks on four of those mountains –– including Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, and now Denali. In setting those new marks, he has broken Jornet’s records on three of the four of those peaks, with Elbrus being the lone holdout only because the Spaniard had to turn back before he reached the top due to poor weather.

That leaves just three other summits to set records on –– Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, and of course Mt. Everest in Nepal/Tibet. When Egloff will turn his attention to those mountains remains to be seen, but clearly he is working through the list at a measured pace. Jornet doesn’t hold the speed record on either of those peaks, although his super-human effort on Everest a few years back is still a remarkable feat. In 2017, Kilian summited the mountain twice in five days without using oxygen either time.  According to the Outside story, Karl will attempt Carstensz next, then head to Antarctica. Everest is still “two or three years” off according to the story, but clearly within his sights.

For their part, Egloff and Jornet have become friends and share a mutual admiration for one another. Kilian sent Karl a note of congratulations on Twitter last Friday and the two have said their friendly competition helps to inspire and motivate one another. For the rest of us, it’s just great to be able to watch two supreme athletes set such impressive marks in the high mountains. Watching what they do next will certainly be fun.


Kraig Becker