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 (45 votes)
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Submitted by COUTCHER on Sun, 28/04/2024 - 15:46


if i were given the opportunity to participate in a physical challenge, i would go for running. i always love to challenge myself and when it comes to running , i still have a lot to do in order to improve my performance.

Submitted by Mostafa7050 on Fri, 15/03/2024 - 00:56


discipline and commitment is the way to do any great achievement 

Submitted by oisoueuatina on Wed, 21/02/2024 - 13:15


I'm definetly not the type of person who likes physical challenges lol. Although I surely like sports and exercises, I hate going extreme, I just like exercising as a hobbie yk? I like to run but I don't think I'd like to take it that seriously. Same with gym. I just like to enjoy the process and the nice feeling I get after that.

Submitted by Estrella24 on Mon, 22/01/2024 - 22:00


As a soccer player i would like to train the running because i need to be faster and also the tecnice with the ball but it is a little harder because i am not the best at running.

Submitted by neuro1987 on Mon, 08/01/2024 - 15:51


My big challenge is not physical is mental, I do questions as many as possible for my medical test, 200-320 questions every day, by the way, exercises are another topic in my daily routine, go to the next level on inline skates and CrossFit.

Submitted by csantiducey on Wed, 20/12/2023 - 23:04


As a longtime basketball player, I would really like to improve my vertical jump, as it is a crucial physical capability in the sport. Having a great vertical jump offers you an important advantage over the other players on the court. Also, training for endurance hikes is a goal I'm really looking forward to achieve.

Submitted by stellamarysl on Thu, 30/11/2023 - 17:31


i would love to learn how to surf, i'd love to get myself prepared for that. Also, running.

Submitted by English.learni… on Tue, 14/11/2023 - 11:28


I would love to be able to run a marathon, but I know I still have a long journey of training before I'll be able to accomplish it.

Submitted by jmajo on Tue, 07/11/2023 - 13:21


I’m not a big fan of great physical challenges, but I would like to be able to ride long distances(more than 60km) on my mountain bike in one day.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

Submitted by Vitaliy128 on Sat, 28/10/2023 - 12:13


If I had a chance to participate in a physical challenge, I would probably start to prepare for the pull-ups, and push-ups competition (I don't know the exact name of this competition) Because I've been doing these exercises for quite a long time and I think that I'm pretty good at it. However, in order to get a winning place I have to train for some time with a professional coach and obtain some additional knowledge in performing these movements