/ NEWS: Kilian Jornet Takes Speed Soloing To Absurd Level

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UKC News - on 03 Oct 2012
Kilian Jornet, 4 kbKilian Jornet, 25, one of the world's great endurance runners, has speed soloed the long, technical and exposed Innominata on the Italian side of Mont Blanc in a scant 6:17. The time is amazing on many levels. While technically the climb is easier than the north faces of the Eiger or the...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67482
tom290483 - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I first thought was "that's amazing", my second was "must be a bit dodgy running solo across glaciers".....I then read the bit about his mate dieing. Crazy stuff.
In reply to UKC News: Impressive stuff. Couple of typos: "3600m feet" and his name is spelt with a C at the end and K at the start.
Robert Durran - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Very, very impressive.

However, this is inexcusably tabloid standard journalism. There is no way the Innomonata has greater objective danger than the Eiger N. Face. He says a fast team would bivi twice on the route - nonsense; an average team would spend one night in a hut before doing the rouite and descending next day. Comparisons with speed records for the Eiger N. Face are pretty meaningless; the Innominata is mostly pretty easy scrambling on which it is easy to move fast safely, whereas the Eiger has lots of quite technical ground at which most alpinists would shudder at moving at Steck's pace even for a few metres. The record for the Eiger is from base of the face to the summit, whereas this Innominata time will mostly have been spent jogging along paths and across easy snow - a very different game.

But yes, if you could combine this fellow's endurance with Steck's ability to climb tehnical ground fast you would have something pretty special!
davebrown3 - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran: Agree with everything you said Robert. I'm sure that must be a first.

btw. "absurd" is surely the wrong word: "irrational, silly, ludicrous, nonsensical. Absurd, ridiculous, preposterous all mean inconsistent with reason or common sense"

tom290483 - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
whereas this Innominata time will mostly have been spent jogging along paths and across easy snow
>
I don't think "jogging" describes the pace he would have been moving at.
MattH - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to tom290483:

The interesting thing about ultra runners switching to climbing more easily than climbers to running, is that Kilian is unusual for an ultrarunner in that he is still only in his early twenties and as such, doesn't have the years and years of endurance. Granted, he started very young, but still, it makes you wonder what he will be like when he reaches his mid thirties.
zarb - on 04 Oct 2012
I met Kilian at the NF100 race in Australia, and he is such a nice guy.

He grew up in the mountains in Spain and some of the scrambling this guy does borders on the insane.

You can only really compare him to a mountain goat.

Keep in mind that he was (and still is) a very successful ski mountaineer before he ever got into running.

Here is a nice little vid of some of the craziness:

http://www.vimeo.com/42964218
Irk the Purist - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

I think the part of this article that most people can relate to is the fact that he got from the summit of Mt Blanc to the church in Chamonix in 2 hours and 26 minutes which makes a mockery of the idea that Europeans can't descend!

My quads have started crying just thinking about it.

Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to MattH:
> (In reply to tom290483)
>
> The interesting thing about ultra runners switching to climbing more easily than climbers to running....

That is an other assertion made in the article without offering any evidence! He says "climbers lack endurance". What nonsense; some of the superalpine stuff getting done these days must require phenomenal endurance.

It does UKC no favours simply reproducing such a rubbish piece of writing.
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

And what about "he covered over 7300m"? Has Mont Blanc grown?
Irk the Purist - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Compared to ultra runners and ski mountaineers, climbers lack endurance. Compared to Kilian trains lack endurance.
a lakeland climber on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think he means what is currently referred to as "speed endurance". Most alpine climbers can keep going all day but not at the speed that Killian does.

Of course it does depend on the route being done and I suspect that he chose the Inominata as the most suitable from that side of Mt Blanc - getting to either the Brouillard or the upper Peuterey or the Frontier Ridge would have been much trickier. In the case of the first two you are effectively traversing away from the foot of the Inominata in any case so it would just slow his time to the summit.

ALC
tomhaegler - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Totally agree with you...but:

> if you could combine this fellow's endurance with Steck's ability to climb tehnical ground fast you would have something pretty special!

I think what Steck and Jornet are doing already IS pretty special!!!

Ron Walker - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

To put it into perspective, an experienced guided team of climbers on the Innominata!

See http://www.vimeo.com/17659941
Damo on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> ...which makes a mockery of the idea that Europeans can't descend!
>

Eh, that's a joke right? I've only been climbing 20 years but I've never heard that. In fact I've heard the opposite quite a bit. It's usually Brits and Americans accused of not being able to descend terrain fast enough.

Years back I was making good time from the Tete Rousse hut down across that rocky ground, moving faster than most nearby, and I hear this noise, turn around to see Christophe Profit *running* down the rocks with a giant metal sign on his back, it having been replaced on the hut by a new one, and he just flew past me like he was walking down to the shops. Several times I've carefully stepped down that ridge out of the Ag du Midi only to have some Euros tear past me like gravity doesn't exist.

- Loretan & Troillet bumslide down Everest in 4 hours?
- Peter Habeler glissading to the South Col in a couple of hours?
a lakeland climber on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:

It's not climbers but European runners that are reckoned not to be able to descend - many European fell/mountain races are uphill only.

ALC
AB - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Ron Walker:

Is it possible to give a trad grade equivalent for the hardest pitches of the Innominata?
Mike Pescod - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to AB: I guided the Innominata Integral this summer and I'm very impressed by this achievement - well done Kilian, outstanding.

I do agree with Robert Durran about the quality of this report and the poor comparison to the speed ascents of the Eiger and Matterhorn etc. This does not compare in terms of technical difficulty, impressive though it is.

The hardest pitch is a rock pitch (one of about five tricky rock pitches in total on the route) which is French 5b. There is a lot of scrambling on easier rock, some steep snow/ice slopes (about 60 degrees) and loose chimney climbing.

It's a great route.

Mike
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to AB:
> (In reply to Ron Walker)
>
> Is it possible to give a trad grade equivalent for the hardest pitches of the Innominata?

There's a distinct crux pitch, possibly VS if I remember rightly. Mostly a lot easier.

AB - on 04 Oct 2012
Goucho on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News: Very impressive indeed in terms of a physical performance, though I'm not sure what it's relevance is in pure climbing terms.

However, maybe it's relevance to climbing development might well turn out to be what it leads to in the greater ranges - especially the Himalayas - where speed is crucial, e.g the 'Big S' ridge problem of Nupse, Lhotse & Everest linked for example.

Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Goucho:
> However, maybe it's relevance to climbing development might well turn out to be what it leads to in the greater ranges - especially the Himalayas.

Exactly my thoughts. All these alpine speed ascents are just sideshow stunts (albeit impressive ones) in alpine terms. Although Steck's stunts are certainly much more impressive in climbing terms, maybe Jornet's alegedly greater endurance might potentially lead to more important proper mountaineering breakthroughs on the very biggest mountains where scale becomes relatively more significant compared to technical difficulty. Not that Steck is a slouch.....
Mike Pescod - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran: "Proper mountaineering"?
aln - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News: If this is a "speed solo" why is he roped in one of the photos?
AB - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to aln:

I don't think that is Kilian, just a random shot of Innominata?
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=186189
Damo on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
> Exactly my thoughts. All these alpine speed ascents are just sideshow stunts (albeit impressive ones) in alpine terms. Although Steck's stunts are certainly much more impressive in climbing terms, maybe Jornet's alegedly greater endurance might potentially lead to more important proper mountaineering breakthroughs on the very biggest mountains where scale becomes relatively more significant compared to technical difficulty. Not that Steck is a slouch.....

More often than not I agree with what you write, Robert. But that right there is a load of pompous armchair crap.

Why must it 'lead' anywhere? And if it must who are you to say where? It's like you're reading out of a 1977 copy of 'Mountain'. Next you'll be on about "young tigers off to test their mettle in the Greater Ranges, what!".

What if it *does* lead to the Himalaya? What if someone solos the Everest-Lhotse-Nuptse horseshoe in 24hrs without oxygen. Then what? Where must that lead? Naked handcuffed solos on Mars? Then what?

There can be no infinite linear progression on the terms you propose. Things need to be appreciated and enjoyed and celebrated for what they are, for their inherent quality and excellence, not for what some spectator thinks they should be more like, according some narrow, hidebound notion of what constitutes 'progress'.

There is no 'proper mountaineering' , no 'pure climbing'. There never was, or climbing would never have evolved at all. There was a time when frontpoints were considered with the disdain you hold for speed climbing, and before that rock climbing was sneered at likewise.

Clearly Jornet is doing something quite different to what most climbers do. Maybe we can learn from that. Maybe he's shown up how unfit we are, how we overestimate our objectives. I think his feat is clearly so far ahead of the norm for climbing that route that it should force us to stop and reconsider how we do things. Maybe we don't train hard enough. Maybe we carry too much gear. Maybe we don't prepare properly. Maybe we're stuck in the past.
aln - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to AB: I think you're right.
Scarab9 - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
> Exactly my thoughts. All these alpine speed ascents are just sideshow stunts (albeit impressive ones) in alpine terms. Although Steck's stunts are certainly much more impressive in climbing terms, maybe Jornet's alegedly greater endurance might potentially lead to more important proper mountaineering breakthroughs on the very biggest mountains where scale becomes relatively more significant compared to technical difficulty. Not that Steck is a slouch.....

oh come on, you're getting a bit pompous now! the ascent is impressive and from the comments above obviously of interest to the users of the site! It's not like he's being given some hall of fame award for climbing based on it, but he has gone up a mountain that involves climbing, scrambling, exposure, skills that we can all relate or aspire to.

geez...some people just like to complain

Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> In reply to Scarab9 (and Damo)
>
> oh come on, you're getting a bit pompous now!

Sorry if I came across like that. My fault. It is just that personally, I'm not particularly interested in (which is not the same as unimpressed by) these speed ascents for their own sake; I am more interested in where the levels of fitness and skill involved might potentially lead to in climbing routes where the route rather than the time taken to climb it is what is pushing the boundaries. Of course they might not choose to apply their levels of fitness and skill in this way, and that is fine.

> The ascent is impressive and from the comments above obviously of interest to the users of the site!

Yes, as I said at the beguinning of my first post, vey, very imopressive and obviously it is of interest to many, including myself.

> geez...some people just like to complain

I have not complained about anything except for the shoddy, inaccurate and misleading article. The story deserved better.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:
> Clearly Jornet is doing something quite different to what most climbers do.

Actually, I don't think he is; he is just doing it much, much quicker!
John Gillott - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> And what about "he covered over 7300m"? Has Mont Blanc grown?

Up and down I'm presuming - worth noting the down as well as the up when the terrain, er, adds to one's inability to run smoothly.
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to John Gillott:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> Up and down I'm presuming - worth noting the down as well as the up when the terrain, er, adds to one's inability to run smoothly.

Ah, that makes sense.
Next time I go for a hill run, I'll tell people I did 1000m in 30 minutes (and conveniently omit to mention that it was all downhill....)

John Gillott - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Hi Robert - I'm no Alpinist, but I can't believe that many people descend the Matterhorn in anything resembling the way I've seen some of the speed runners do it. Can't find it on YouTube at the moment, but I remember a great documentary about a guy doing it on the Italian side. On steep fixed rope sections he ran (facing forward), letting the rope run through his (gloved) hands.
Tobias at Home - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Goucho)
> [...]
>
>" Jornet's alegedly greater endurance"

what's allegedly about it? he clearly has endurance levels that ranks amongst the top handful of humans on the planet!
TonyG - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
"The story deserved better."

I agree completely on this point. This blog post was circulating widely on Twitter back when Kilian did the traverse. To just repost someone else's old (by today's fast-moving standards) post, this long after the event, and call it news does seem rather lazy... There must have been something more interesting that could have been done with this story to bring it in line with some of the other excellent reporting on UKC.

In reply to Kilian's feat:
Awesome achievement! I love what Kilian, Tony K, Joe Grant et al are doing in the mountains these days, and can't wait to see where it takes them in years to come. Kilian's having the most amazing year so far!

I do see this as introducing aspects of mountaineering to ultra running though, rather than the other way round... It seems to me to be more at home as a 'news' story on the running websites than the climbing websites. Either way, it's good stuff, gets the juices flowing, and makes me think that little bit more about what I might possibly be able to achieve at my own meagre level in both climbing and ultrarunning... If anyone else is also interested in following Kilian's exploits, he's often interviewed before big races by Bryon Powell over on www.irunfar.com, and usually gets a mention somewhere in Ian Corless's first-class TalkUltra podcast.

Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Tobias at Home:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
> >" Jornet's alegedly greater endurance"
>
> what's allegedly about it? he clearly has endurance levels that ranks amongst the top handful of humans on the planet!

Well, I had not heard of Jornet before reading the article, so I could only go on what the article, largely otherwise filled with nonsense, alleged about his endurance relative to Steck's (which is obviously not bad either!).

John Gillott - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to TonyG:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)

> I do see this as introducing aspects of mountaineering to ultra running though, rather than the other way round... It seems to me to be more at home as a 'news' story on the running websites than the climbing websites.

Imagine the sarcastic comments - 'average speed of 4km/h, that's not even brisk walking. My granny....'
John Gillott - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to John Gillott)
> [...]
>
> Ah, that makes sense.
> Next time I go for a hill run, I'll tell people I did 1000m in 30 minutes (and conveniently omit to mention that it was all downhill....)

How long for the descent of Ben Nevis via Tower Ridge?
Tobias at Home - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Tobias at Home)
> [...]
>
> Well, I had not heard of Jornet before reading the article, so I could only go on what the article, largely otherwise filled with nonsense, alleged about his endurance relative to Steck's (which is obviously not bad either!).

ah ok. to put it in perspective, he won the 2009 utmb over an hour ahead of the second place...
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Tobias at Home:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> ah ok. to put it in perspective, he won the 2009 utmb over an hour ahead of the second place...

I'm afraid that fails mto put it in perspective. Very impressive if a normal winning time is about 3 hours. Not so impressive if a normal winning time is about 3 days. I presume it's something in between?

Arms Cliff - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Tobias at Home)
> [...]
>
> I'm afraid that fails mto put it in perspective. Very impressive if a normal winning time is about 3 hours. Not so impressive if a normal winning time is about 3 days. I presume it's something in between?

http://www.ultratrailmb.com/page/107/Resultats.html?langue_affich=_en

3 clicks of the interweb ;)
a lakeland climber on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's about 20-21hrs for the winning time for the 166Km route. So basically about 5% of the time, a bit like winning a marathon by 7 minutes or so or winning the 1500m by 10 seconds.

ALC
Tobias at Home - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to a lakeland climber: he also won it by an hour in 2008 as well
cuillinman - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to TonyG:

I agree that its Killian's achievement that we should be applauding. He does not see himself as a runner, skier or mountaineer but as a person who enjoys the simple pleasure of moving fast through the mountain environment. He has however taken the concept of moving fast and light in the mountains to another level through achieving an exceptional level of fitness and we can all learn from that. He has pared down his gear to an absolute minimum way beyond what most of us mortals would consider safe for a route of that nature and he has produced a remarkable result. Earlier this summer he posted the fasted known time for the ascent and descent of Grand Teton so this is not just an isolated stunt. He did the innominata a few days beforehand with a young american ultra runner as a recce and so it is apparent that the fast time was achieved through thorough preparation in every respect. Once again something we can all learn from if we want to be fast safe and successful in the mountains.

Last month I had an interesting discussion about Killian with Andreas Steidle the young Zermatt guide who currently holds the record for the Hornli ridge ascent in 2hrs 57mins from Zermatt to the summit. Andreas reckoned that Killian was on a completely different level from him in terms of fitness but he was inspired to reach that level through further training. Interestingly Andreas felt that the difference between Steck and Jornet was not in technical climbing ability or fitness but was all in the head when it comes to soloing hard technical alpine terrain. This is just the point of view of one alpine guide but an interesting one nonetheless. In my own view the ascent of Mont Blanc via the Innominata Ridge solo is an outstanding mountaineering achievement for any alpinist and should not be dismissed as some ultra running stunt. Killian is very very special and we should all celebrate that fact.
steelbru - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to cuillinman:
The Grand Teton record lasted less than a week, some Canadian guide was also training for it ( unknown to each other ) and beat it a few days later.

There was also a bit of controversy over Killian's record as he cut some of the switchbacks on the lower trails, which in Europe is acceptable, but not in the States.
Pinch'a'salt on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to steelbru:

Less mediatised (and less speedy, slightly) is Jeff Mercier & Jon Griffith's single push ascent of the Peuterey Integrale this summer... No 'records' being set per se but a good example of where KJ-style fitness can lead in terms of taking on what more technical 'multi-day' routes in light & fast styley..

http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/6340572-peuterey-integral-single-push
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> It's about 20-21hrs for the winning time for the 166Km route. So basically about 5% of the time, a bit like winning a marathon by 7 minutes or so or winning the 1500m by 10 seconds.

Thanks. Proper perspective! Sloppy use of numbers bothers me!

Tobias at Home - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to a lakeland climber)
> [...]
>
> Thanks. Proper perspective! Sloppy use of numbers bothers me!

apparently so does using google...
Robert Durran - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to cuillinman:
> (In reply to TonyG)
>
> He did the innominata a few days beforehand with a young american ultra runner as a recce and so it is apparent that the fast time was achieved through thorough preparation in every respect. Once again something we can all learn from if we want to be fast safe and successful in the mountains.

I am not sure that recceing a route beforehan so that we can then go back and do it again quicker is ever going to be a mainstream alpine technique to learn! I think it will remain a specialist tactic in the tiny subsport of speed record alpinism.

> Andreas felt that the difference between Steck and Jornet was not in technical climbing ability or fitness but was all in the head when it comes to soloing hard technical alpine terrain.

That is certainly what I find mind bending about Steck - his willingness to risk (?) soloing technial ground so fast. This is why his and Jornet's achievements seem to me in different categories.

> In my own view the ascent of Mont Blanc via the Innominata Ridge solo is an outstanding mountaineering achievement for any alpinist.

It can't be that big a deal if a punter like me can do it!

John Cuthbert - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to UKC News:

Yep, steck is no slouch, but he is very short.

And he doesnt drink at all! What kind of climber is that?
Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to John Cuthbert:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Yep, steck is no slouch, but he is very short.

Yes, that is always unfortunate.

> And he doesnt drink at all! What kind of climber is that?

A more sober and quicker one than you, Cuthbert.

simon cox - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Robert, I do find many of your comments on this thread hard to fathom; Jornet's achievement is utterly amazing - where one of the worlds very best endurance atheletes puts his neck on the line and zips up and down Mont Blanc in an incredible time. You should check Killian's story out - he is a very cool guy who just goes around the world doing what he wants to do and generally breaking records as he is amongst the very fittest people on the planet; his VO2Max is in the range 92-95 (Lance Armstrong's was 84)- he is also a gold medal cross country skier... so his cardio fittness linked with his endurance gives him the platform to do amazing feats that very few world class endurance atheletes could contemplate.

Steck also is clearly amazing, it would be interesting to see how quickly he could do Killian's route over Mont Blanc or for that matter the UTMB, I am guessing he would be very, very good - but we just dont know how fast and strong he would be relative to Killian. Whilst you perhaps dont like the idea of records and times - this is what ultra running is about and it lets you compare how good people are and Killian is exceptional - whilst more of a steep technical hill runner he won the Western States 100 (which with only 13000 feet of ascent he describes as fairly flat!) last year against all the best endurance runners in the world - he also took the record for the fastest ascent of Killimanjaro - up and down in 7 hrs or so - outrageous!

But I think we are agreed that it would be very interesting to see what he could achieve in the Himalaya, if he can operate at serious altitude - I am sure his achievements will be mind boggling.

Cheers,

Robert Durran - on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to simon cox:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Robert, I do find many of your comments on this thread hard to fathom.

Why? We seem to be in general agreement!

> Jornet's achievement is utterly amazing.

I agree. I made that very clear right at the start of my first post.

> Steck also is clearly amazing.

I agree. I think I have made that very clear too.

> It would be interesting to see how quickly he could do Killian's route over Mont Blanc or for that matter the UTMB.

Indeed.

> Whilst you perhaps dont like the idea of records and times - this is what ultra running is about and it lets you compare how good people are and Killian is exceptional.

No I don't really like the idea of records and times in mountaineering. I would just rather judge mountaineering achievements by the routes people climb (and, of course, the style in which they do them - note that I do not consider speed/fitness as part of good style as such, but rather as a means which allows hard routes to be done in good style at all!). Call that old fashioned if you like!

If you are failing to fathom my comments, I think it is because you are perhaps seeing things from an ultra running perspective where times are quite rightly everything, whereas I am seeing things from a traditional mountaineering perspective. Jornet is from an ultra background whereas Steck is from mountaineering background; their achievements are in different contexts and we are not comparing like with like. If Jornet were to speed solo the Eiger and Steck the Innominata or do the utmb, we would really have something to compare.

> But I think we are agreed that it would be very interesting to see what he could achieve in the Himalaya, if he can operate at serious altitude - I am sure his achievements will be mind boggling.

Indeed.

Damo on 05 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to simon cox)
> [...]
... note that I do not consider speed/fitness as part of good style as such, but rather as a means which allows hard routes to be done in good style at all!). Call that old fashioned if you like!

No, I'd call that inherently contradictory, if not hypocritical. At best, unnecessary hair-splitting. And I know a thing or two about splitting hairs. I'm all for pedantry, but in this case I think it's misplaced.

>...I am seeing things from a traditional mountaineering perspective.

And just what is that? Guides, ladies in skirts, ladders? Rude Frenchmen stepping on you as they whiz past to catch the telepherique? Sherpas carrying the sahibs loads? Rubbish at base camps?

Or do you mean that you have an ideal of what mountaineering 'should' be and things like this upset it? Your distinctions make an appeal to authority that does not exist. The concept of 'tradition' will change over time for each generation. You're constantly attempting to downplay Jornet's feat by placing it in a context that is not as robust as you seem to believe, it's really just your view based on your personal experience and age.

Robert, step away from the tree. Look! You're in a forest!
simon cox - on 07 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

I didnt want to get into picking over all the words you used "side show" etc.. But I think you are missing out on a wonderful mountaineering achievement... and Kilian comes over as someone who is really into the spirit of the mountains... though he clearly has sponsors to keep happy...

BTW Kilian is from a skiing background and still skis half the year... and was born in a mountain hut aledgedly ...

So I do find it hard to fathom how such an amazing mountian achievement can be chipped away at as not "proper mountaineering"...

He will be having the last laugh as he gets onto his next adventure...

I think there is something about sports forums where people like to chip away at most things... you should check out the american "letsrun" forum to sharpen up your critical style ;-) where anyone who can't do a sub 2 30 marathon doesn't even count as a runner... so ultra atheletes that can only turn in 2 40 marathons are a bit of a joke (even if they are run back to back)... yeah they just need to put some decent money on the table for the western states and all the top marathoners on the planet would be taking hours out of the current record...

You may want to check out some video footage of Kilian running in the mountains on the Saloman (running shoe) web site, there is some pretty inspirational footage there.

Cheers,
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo

You seem to think I am trying to downplay Jornet's achievement. I am genuinely completely baffled why you think this. It is clearly a truly phenomenal achievement. I have said absolutely nothing to suggest otherwise.


You quote me "... note that I do not consider speed/fitness as part of good style as such, but rather as a means which allows hard routes to be done in good style at all!). Call that old fashioned if you like!"
>
> No, I'd call that inherently contradictory, if not hypocritical. At best, unnecessary hair-splitting.

I would genuinely be interested to know why you think this. I am once again completely baffled.

> Or do you mean that you have an ideal of what mountaineering 'should' be and things like this upset it?

I suppose I do have an ideal: that you set off from the bottom with you rucksack and climb to the top - ie Alpine Style - quite simple really and hardly ontroversial. Obviously all these speed ascents comply with this and as such do not upset me. I suppose I do find the reduction of these classic routes to racetrack status in the poular media perhaps just a little bit vulgar but this is more to do with the hype than the climbs themselves. Big numbers (or low times) do of course make eyecatching headlines and easily understood stories! I am sure that both Jornet and Steck do these things for purely personal reasons...... though I'm sure their sponsors are, of course, very happy too. Someone earlier said that Jornet's climb is probably better seen from a ultra perspective and I think this is probably true - it is an absolutely stunning piece of endurance rather than a particulary noteworthy mountaineering ahievement. In contrast, Steck's ability to solo technical ground quickly makes his solos at least as noteworthy mountaineering achievements as endurance feats.
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2012
In reply to simon cox:

I am most certainly not trying to chip away at Jornet's achievement or indeed his motivations - it is a shame that you have got that impression. As someone who has soloed the Innominata valley to valley in something like six times Jornet's time (and been pretty knakered afterwards) I am probably in as good a position as most to appreciate what a phenomenal achievement his time is!

There was, however, an interesting and perfectly legitimate discussion to be had as to the context in which both Jornet's and Steck's achievements should be seen. I accept that I should take my share of the blame for undermining this by using unnecessarily provocative phrases such as "side show" and "proper mountaineering".
Damo on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo
>

> You quote me "... note that I do not consider speed/fitness as part of good style as such, but rather as a means which allows hard routes to be done in good style at all!). Call that old fashioned if you like!"
> [...]
>
> I would genuinely be interested to know why you think this. I am once again completely baffled.
>

I'm afraid this thread has exhausted my unbaffling skills Robert.
Damo on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo
>
> You seem to think I am trying to downplay Jornet's achievement. ... I have said absolutely nothing to suggest otherwise.
>

And then five minutes later you wrote this:'

"I accept that I should take my share of the blame for undermining this by using unnecessarily provocative phrases such as "side show" and "proper mountaineering."

Unbaffling sorted.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> "I accept that I should take my share of the blame for undermining this by using unnecessarily provocative phrases such as "side show" and "proper mountaineering."

Yes, undermining an unemotive discussion of the context in which these achievements are best seen. Not, of course, undermining the amazing achievements themselves. I really thought that was perfectly clear.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:
> I'm afraid this thread has exhausted my unbaffling skills Robert.

Please try, I'm genuinely interested!

Here is an example of what I mean: a route is such that, for a climber of a certain level of fitness, the time needed for the climbing is 4 days. However, carrying food and fuel for 4 days means that the climbing becomes slower and 5 days are now needed, meaning more food is needed.....etc, etc and so, in fact, the route cannot be climbed in alpine style and a siege is necessary. However, a fitter, faster climber can climb the route in 2 days in alpine style; their greater speed and fitness allows the route to be climbed in what is generally considered better style. The speed is a means to climb the route in better style, not the style itself.

Incidentally, do you consider Jornet's 8hrs for the Innominata better style than my 48hrs valley to valley (I don't) or just bogglingly faster? Likewise Stecks 3hrs (or whatever) on the Eiger to my 5 days (setting aside the fact that he soloed it).

Damo on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo)
> [...]
>
> Yes, undermining an unemotive discussion of the context in which these achievements are best seen. Not, of course, undermining the amazing achievements themselves. I really thought that was perfectly clear.

Did you? Really? The 59 preceding posts would indicate otherwise!
Damo on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo)
> [...]
>
> Please try, I'm genuinely interested!
>
> Here is an example of what I mean: ... The speed is a means to climb the route in better style, not the style itself.
>

I know what you mean, have done for a while. But as one who has been accused countless times of unjustifiable hair-splitting and narrow minded subjectivity ... I think you've outdone even me on this one, Robert.

> Incidentally, do you consider... Stecks 3hrs (or whatever) on the Eiger to my 5 days ....

Can't say I'd thought about it, but if you insist on comparitive judgements, yes, I do. Presumably you weren't trying to go slow, you were trying to go as fast as safely possible given your skill, judgement, experience, the conditions etc. His speed, as a result of his own skill, judgement, experience and the conditions, is an improvement on yours. And in terms of risk/safety, I hear the Eiger NF is a dangerous place, so the less time spent on it the better, so in that regard I do consider Steck's climb 'better' than yours. Was his climb fast but dangerously risky? Yes, maybe, but he might think you exposed yourself to danger for too long. You two can work that one out ...

Style is subjective, despite a plethora of self-styled alpine prophets and gear ads telling us otherwise. I understand that speed alone does not trump all other aspects in a judgement of 'good style'. The Gilmore-Mahoney vs. Backes-House-Twight ascents of the Slovak route on Denali in 2000 is a good example of that.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Did you? Really? The 59 preceding posts would indicate otherwise!

Well, I suppose I have to give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that it wasn't clear if you genuinely didn't find it so. However, I can assure you that it was absolutely never my intention to undermine either Jornet's of Steck's achievements.

Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Damo:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> I know what you mean, have done for a while. But as one who has been accused countless times of unjustifiable hair-splitting and narrow minded subjectivity ... I think you've outdone even me on this one, Robert.

I don't think it is hair splitting at all.

> His speed, as a result of his own skill, judgement, experience and the conditions, is an improvement on yours.

Yes, his speed is obviously an "improvement" on mine, but speed in itself is not, I think, the same as style. Mybe you think otherwise.

And in terms of risk/safety, I hear the Eiger NF is a dangerous place, so the less time spent on it the better, so in that regard I do consider Steck's climb 'better' than yours. Was his climb fast but dangerously risky? Yes, maybe, but he might think you exposed yourself to danger for too long. You two can work that one out ...

I suspect that having the skill to go a lot faster than me and the prudence to go slower than Steck would be a happy medium in terms of safety - but is that the same as style?

> The Gilmore-Mahoney vs. Backes-House-Twight ascents of the Slovak route on Denali in 2000 is a good example of that.

It is exactly this route that I have had in mind while thinking about the speed/style thing, though comparing the Backes-House-Twight ultra light single push with the recent Bullock-Houseman ascent carrying a tent and presumably more food and fuel. I don't see the style (alpine in both cases) as being different, just the tactics (trading off speed for security) adopted to achieve that style. No doubt you will accuse me of splitting hairs again, but how much security we trade for the advantages of speed is a decision everyone takes on virtually every route from a hill-walk in Snowdonia to state of the art superalpine stuff in the greater ranges.

Damo on 08 Oct 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Damo)
> [...]

> It is exactly this route that I have had in mind while thinking about the speed/style thing, though comparing the Backes-House-Twight ultra light single push with the recent Bullock-Houseman ascent carrying a tent and presumably more food and fuel. I don't see the style (alpine in both cases) as being different, just the tactics (trading off speed for security) adopted to achieve that style.

Ugh ... This is just a further example of how style is subjective. The route, for which the FA took weeks to siege, lay untouched for 16 years, then two relatively unknown, low-key climbers made the second ascent, in alpine-style, no beta, over a week or so (say, 80-90hrs climbing). Did the route, went home. Good style. Shortly after, B-H-T came along, climbed it in a single push, taking 60hrs, used the ledges, tracks of G-M, dumped their rope and empty gas canisters on the route because they were too weak/lazy to carry them off, got helped by the rangers on the way down, and claimed it as a major leap in alpinism, the epitome of style. I can't see that as good style. That was my point.

Enough.
In reply to Damo: That's really interesting; Gilmore and Mahoney - they're the guys from New England aren't they? Shows the power of the hype because I thought House and Co did the second ascent of the Slovak route, and then the NE team came and repeated it after them. Didn't know about BHT dumping their gear. Always a shame leaving litter even if understandable in certain conditions.

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