A biography of Kilian Jornet

A biography of Kilian Jornet

Read a biography of mountain runner Kilian Jornet, who climbed Everest in a day, to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


Reading text

When you picture mountain climbers scaling Mount Everest, what probably comes to mind are teams of climbers with Sherpa guides leading them to the summit, equipped with oxygen masks, supplies and tents. And in most cases you'd be right, as 97 per cent of climbers use oxygen to ascend to Everest's summit at 8,850 metres above sea level. The thin air at high altitudes makes most people breathless at 3,500 metres, and the vast majority of climbers use oxygen past 7,000 metres. A typical climbing group will have 8–15 people in it, with an almost equal number of guides, and they'll spend weeks to get to the top after reaching Base Camp.

But ultra-distance and mountain runner Kilian Jornet Burgada ascended the mountain in May 2017 alone, without an oxygen mask or fixed ropes for climbing.

Oh, and he did it in 26 hours.

With food poisoning.

And then, five days later, he did it again, this time in only 17 hours.

Born in 1987, Kilian has been training for Everest his whole life. And that really does mean his whole life, as he grew up 2,000 metres above sea level in the Pyrenees in the ski resort of Lles de Cerdanya in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain. While other children his age were learning to walk, Kilian was on skis. At one and a half years old he did a five-hour hike with his mother, entirely under his own steam. He left his peers even further behind when he climbed his first mountain and competed in his first cross-country ski race at age three. By age seven, he had scaled a 4,000er and, at ten, he did a 42-day crossing of the Pyrenees.

He was 13 when he says he started to take it 'seriously' and trained with the Ski Mountaineering Technical Centre (CTEMC) in Catalonia, entering competitions and working with a coach. At 18, he took over his own ski-mountaineering and trail-running training, with a schedule that only allows a couple of weeks of rest a year. He does as many as 1,140 hours of endurance training a year, plus strength training and technical workouts as well as specific training in the week before a race. For his record-breaking ascent and descent of the Matterhorn, he prepared by climbing the mountain ten times until he knew every detail of it, even including where the sun would be shining at every part of the day.

Sleeping only seven hours a night, Kilian Jornet seems almost superhuman. His resting heartbeat is extremely low at 33 beats per minute, compared with the average man's 60 per minute or an athlete's 40 per minute. He breathes more efficiently than average people too, taking in more oxygen per breath, and he has a much faster recovery time after exercise as his body quickly breaks down lactic acid – the acid in muscles that causes pain after exercise.

All this is thanks to his childhood in the mountains and to genetics, but it is his mental strength that sets him apart. He often sets himself challenges to see how long he can endure difficult conditions in order to truly understand what his body and mind can cope with. For example, he almost gave himself kidney failure after only drinking 3.5 litres of water on a 100km run in temperatures of around 40°C.

It would take a book to list all the races and awards he's won and the mountains he's climbed. And even here, Kilian’s achievements exceed the average person as, somehow, he finds time to record his career on his blog and has written three books, Run or Die, The Invisible Border and Summits of My Life.

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Average: 4.5 (49 votes)

You don't have to have the equipment to make the core muscles stronger. All you need is a floor and a few chairs (it'd be great to have pull ups bar). But anyways, there are a lot of challenging exercises you can try on your own. Find out more about calisthenics and also you may do a few gymnastic elements.

Just a reminder that there are plenty of bodyweight exercises that you can try to help you achieve your fitness goal. You can definitely strengthen your core muscles without equipment.

Submitted by wafiaaaa on Sun, 12/06/2022 - 20:35


I would like to workout everyday and be commited to that but I always choose easy exercises and never challenge myself for harder ones and that frustrates me I think I should challenge myself to endure more and to workout harder

Submitted by estefaniec_ on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 01:48


Honestly, I don't really train physically, but, if I were to train, I'd probably start tu run, and do more exercise, I've always seen those shows where a set of people competes to see who's stronger, so I would like to compete in that type of show someday; so i'd train for that.

Submitted by Daria073 on Thu, 07/04/2022 - 15:23


To be honest, i was never keen on sports in general. But i believe doing sports plays a very important role as it helps us to keep fit, prolongs the life and prevents deseases. So if i had to try one sport activity i would pick jogging because it doesn't require any special skills or preparation yet it's very good for health.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Wed, 23/02/2022 - 21:55


My physical challenge is to work hard and to save money for adventure challenges, which will keep my body/brain in perfect condition and I will be more motivate :)

Submitted by ppbs on Sun, 06/02/2022 - 13:34


Seeing wonders of nature, such as majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, wild rivers, or evergreen forests, has always been my goal in life. Being physically and mentally fit and prepared is the main precondition for visiting such places because it's always challenging to get there. That's why I do workouts almost every day, such as jogging, cycling, skiing, swimming, just to name a few.

Submitted by Soulma on Sun, 02/01/2022 - 18:09


I don't train any physical challenges but I extremely want to practice swimming

Submitted by palensuardi on Sun, 14/11/2021 - 23:10


Since I was quite young, at about thirteen years old, I have trained with bodyweight exercises. My dream has been to be able to do calisthinics moves like the human flag or the handstand. However, my training has not been constant. I hope one day I can stick to training so that I can achive this goal.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Fri, 22/10/2021 - 12:54


I have no physical challenges. I'm going to gym in this time.