Spanish runner Kilian Jornet is returning to Nepal, and might have an eye on the Everest speed record. He is in the country for the Golden Trail Series final on October 26, but The Himalayan Times has reported he has mountaineering permits, too.
Jornet summited Everest from base camp without oxygen in 2017, in just 26 hours, a speed record. He suffered from stomach issues, so decided to try again just days later. He climbed from advance base camp in 17 hours, although it was about 15 minutes slower than the advanced base camp record.
However, Jornet’s GPS failed to work on his record ascent. And he had no clear photos from the summit. The whole expedition was thrown into controversy when Oregon climber Dan Howitt produced a 60-page report questioning the lack of evidence. Jornet said in an interview with Outside Magazine it was hard to film and filming was the last thing on his mind, but Howitt’s report lead many to question the record.
When he returns this October, it could be to rectify and clarify the dispute by setting the record once again. However, his goals are unclear. He has two permits, one to lead a three-member team up Everest’s neighbour, Lhotse. It could be that he is trying to summit both Everest and Lhotse in one climb, if comments he has made previously come to fruition.
In January, on the Rich Roll Podcast, he spoke about considering linking mountains, like Lhotse and Everest. So perhaps, this trip could be the start of that journey.
“It’s always possible to go faster. When you do it one time, you see the mistakes you’ve done,” he told Rich Roll. “It’s better to do something different, than the same thing just a few minutes faster.”
“I think at high altitude link-ups are very interesting,” he said. “From one mountain to the other, or very long ridges.”
Ueli Steck was attempting to link Everest and Lhotse in a single climb in 2017, when he fell and died while acclimatising.
Jornet’s media team have told a few outlets Jornet is not discussing his plans, or whether he even has plans, with the press, but will communicate any climbs or records after completion.
Jornet has been on a years-long project called “Summits of My Life”, during which he has set the speed record on some of the world’s most famous mountains, such as Mont Blanc and Denali. The project concluded with Everest.
All we can do is speculate. Whatever he achieves, let’s hope he takes some pictures this time.