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.

Do you need to improve your English reading skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English reading skills with our online courses.

Discussion

Download
Worksheet90.08 KB

Submitted by johneliseo on Wed, 15/06/2022 - 13:01

Permalink

I really want to strengthen my core muscles so I can perform well in sports that I play. Now that I have just moved to a new country, I am limited to rope skipping as I don't have yet the equipment to perform exercises that can help me achieve my fitness goal.

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Submitted by BlaiChan on Thu, 29/07/2021 - 09:18

Permalink
I've never trained my physical fitness for sports as I'm not good the sport. If I get a chance I would like to do for football. I really run into it. I've always imagined playing on the pitch.

Submitted by Maitane on Thu, 22/07/2021 - 07:56

Permalink
I would like to train for a hard mountain climbing or for a long running race in my city.
Profile picture for user Hennadii

Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 15/06/2021 - 16:04

Permalink
Honestly, I don't want to face any physical challenges. I'm too old for that. The only challenge I'm willing to take part - to be stronger than I was yesterday. I never was some sporty kind of kid who liked play football or basketball or something. I always was a boy that captains picked last or the second last if our fat friend was with us. It was tough but I wasn't mentally strong enough to did something with that. And yes, PE - was my most unpopular subject in school. But now I try to keep fit because I'm 40 now and the years that I spent in front of PCs didn't add to my health. Every morning (well, almost every) I go to the park and do exercises. I also play football with my kids or badminton with my wife. And frisbee - I love frisbee the most. And I try to do at least 8000 steps each day (thanks to my fit-bracelet), better - 10000.

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Sat, 22/05/2021 - 17:27

Permalink
I would like to go to the gym every day in the morning, I would like to do mountain biking as well.
Profile picture for user danisep

Submitted by danisep on Mon, 05/04/2021 - 01:44

Permalink
Maybe improve my breathing because I feel like sometimes I do it wrong, and after a disappointing lesson at the gym, I would like to go back and work again on my body.

Submitted by Diana Vania on Sun, 07/02/2021 - 05:18

Permalink
I'd like to train for a 20k running marathon and make it in less than 1hour

Submitted by twujstary on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 19:44

Permalink
I'd like to train speed skating because I have always liked to watch people racing on the ice.

Submitted by Sue38 on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 12:19

Permalink
I like dancing and swimming. I don´t like hard exercises like climb, hike or race.

Submitted by Ehsan on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 13:59

Permalink
I'd like to train for fitness and strength and endurance sports.

Submitted by RaseshLearnx on Mon, 18/01/2021 - 15:28

Permalink
Nice One Like it!!
Profile picture for user Rafaela1

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 13:59

Permalink
I'd like to train for daily living... :)
Profile picture for user amit_ck

Submitted by amit_ck on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 05:18

Permalink
What is the difference between Sometime and Some time? Could please give me some simple examples of them?

Hello amit_ck,

This is confusing for many people. 'sometime' refers to a time that isn't specified -- generally, a point in time. For example, in 'You should come over to my house sometime' I express that I'd like you to come to my house, but I don't say exactly when.

'some time' means 'quite a while' -- for example, 'Amit came over to my house and spent some time there'. This means that you came over and spent time at my house. Like 'sometime', it doesn't specify the time exactly, but here rather than speaking about a point in time, we're talking about a duration.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Eliana Caldero… on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 15:42

Permalink
I would like to train to do ballet dancing, I know it is difficult but I would like to find a good doctor to tell me what to eat to have more endurance withouth getting weight.

Submitted by nang on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 15:25

Permalink
for physical challenge that I would like to try, i have to mention that its figure skating. Currently ,I have been watching figure skating videos of one of the top skaters of South Korea named Park Sunghoon who is an idol now. In my point of view ,figure skating is one of a kind.The skaters swing and move perfectly and its a beautiful side to us.plus I think when we are skating on the ice rink ,it feels like we are some kind of ice princes here:)) Figure Skating is a really cool physical challenge you should do . Last but not least ,I enjoy reading this article.

Submitted by Lola Bernal on Sat, 26/12/2020 - 13:23

Permalink
I'd like to train swimming regularly

Submitted by Enrique Rangel on Sat, 12/12/2020 - 02:33

Permalink
Just amazing ! I like hiking but that guy it's in a different level... and I need to do more training the true.

Submitted by reem mohd on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 17:38

Permalink
hmm... honestly, I'm not very physically active. I spend most of my time on electronics and useless stuff. But, I recently got into cycling and playing basketball. I find them really fun and entertaining. However, in the future, I would like to grow these sports in me and be more fit and have a healthy lifestyle :)

Submitted by Tar-Belegdonn on Mon, 23/11/2020 - 00:27

Permalink
What a story!! Well, I'm passionate about many different things (soccer, football, chess, cigars, cooking). When it comes to actually practicing sports, I'd like to start practicing Tennis and resume my Boxe training.

Submitted by Marti on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 18:12

Permalink
I'd like to train for swimming competitions in open air locations, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, like a river or a natural lake. I'd also be nice to have a proper underwater training to be able to make deep immersions into the sea without oxygen cylinders. That's my dream.

Submitted by Lylurs on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 02:55

Permalink
I enjoyed this article so much since I'm a mountain climber, the highest altitude I have achieved is 5,800 metres and one of my dreams is to climb Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina (6,961 metres).

Submitted by sexyman on Mon, 21/09/2020 - 11:02

Permalink
I really vind this realy nice ant it helped very good wit my inglish writing.
Profile picture for user Hoàng Nhung

Submitted by Hoàng Nhung on Sat, 22/08/2020 - 10:35

Permalink
I do love karate but I can't study

Submitted by Darka on Fri, 21/08/2020 - 20:53

Permalink
Someday I want to run a half-marathon (its 21 km) and then a hole marathon (46 km). Now I have been trained for 3 years. Now I can run 6-8 kilometers without any break easily. My stamina is getting better with every training. But my aim demand to train systematically.

Submitted by ozgentas on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 22:14

Permalink
I would like to train for strong muscles and healty body. We know that a healty mind in a healty body.
Profile picture for user Rafaela1

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 14:25

Permalink
Hi admins, May I ask a question? What are physical challenges, for example?

Hello Rafaela1

The idea of 'physical challenges' that the discussion question mentions are things like running a race, walking or biking a distance, climbing a mountain, etc. Usually these involve distances or other circumstances that are beyond a person's normal activity.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk, Got it. Well, I don't have enough physical stamina but I think I have mental stamina! Honestly, I'm bad at running a distance... ;)

Submitted by Asifur Rhaman on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 10:24

Permalink
Good to know about him. To be honest I didn't know about him prior to reading this text.

Submitted by Ziya_Alishanli on Sun, 28/06/2020 - 15:56

Permalink
I consider myself a lay person as regards physical workouts. Sometimes I start training, but soon I lose motivation. However, I would like to build up muscles and lose weight a little bit.
Profile picture for user OlaIELTS

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 11/05/2020 - 04:20

Permalink
I would like to train against bad posture.

Submitted by ahmed mahmoud … on Mon, 11/05/2020 - 01:47

Permalink
I very much appreciate your effort and these kind of questions, but could you explain why the answer in number 5 in the first task is 33 not 40, as he is compared to very fit people (athletes) not ordinary people (average man)?

Hello ahmed mahmoud tawfeek

The correct answer to question 5 is '18', which is the age when Kilian 'took over his own ski-mountaineering and trail-running training'. The answer to question 6 is '33' because his 33 bpm is lower even than a fit person's 40 bpm.

Does that make sense?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Patricia5 on Thu, 02/04/2020 - 11:29

Permalink
Amazing guy, this Killian is. However, I just can not believe he scaled a mountain without being carried at the age of only one and half. It seems so superhuman I just can't get my head around it. On the other side, there is me, regular human being with it's everyday difficulties. To challenge myself physically and mentally I would choose, long hikes and living with only few resources, as well as maybe long distance swimming to broaden my lungs and to make my lungs capacity bigger so I can eventually slow down my own heartbeat.
Hi! What I understand from the article is that it was a 5 hours-walk not a 5 hours-mountain scale. Even so, it clearly was a superhuman act considering his age!!!
Profile picture for user amit_ck

Submitted by amit_ck on Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:42

Permalink
I some problems to understand this passage. Could you simply it? and What does it mean "BIG BANG" and which "Strike" talking about this writer here? Alan Macfarlane, professor of anthropological science At King’s College, Cambridge, has, like other historians spent decades wrestling with the enigma of the industrial revolution. Why did this particular big bang the world-changing birth of industry-happen in Britain? And why did it strike at the end of the 18th century?
Profile picture for user amit_ck

Submitted by amit_ck on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 21:18

Permalink
could you please make the capitalized sentences simple ? Those are making me complex to understand In California, where population growth has averaged more than 600,000 a year for at least a decade, more residential housing is being built. ‘WHAT ONCE WAS OPEN SPACE IS NOW RESIDENTIAL HOMES PROVIDING FUEL TO MAKE FIRES BURN WITH GREATER INTENSITY,’ SAYS TERRY MCHALE OF THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY FIREFIGHTERS' UNION.‘WITH SO MUCH DRYNESS, SO MANY COMMUNITIES TO CATCH FIRE, SO MANY FRONTS TO FIGHT, IT BECOMES AN ALMOST INCREDIBLE JOB.'

Hello amit_ck

What McHale is saying is that the firefighters' job is more difficult than it used to be. This is because in the past, the homes that are now catching fire did not used to be there. Instead of homes, there were empty fields.

It's not that open spaces like fields do not burn, but in such fields there is much less fuel (burnable materials such as wood) than there now is when there are homes (generally made of wood) there.

Hope this helps.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team