Kilian Jornet, a Spanish mountain climber and endurance athlete, set a new record for the fastest climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro earlier this week, making his way from the base to summit, and back again, in just 7 hours and 14 minutes. The previous record for the climb was held by Tanzanian Simon Mtuy, who made the round-trip journey in 8 hours and 27 minutes.
Standing at 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and a popular trekking destination amongst adventure travelers. Most hikers who go to the summit take six or seven days to complete the trip, which means Jornet was moving at a pace of roughly one days worth of climbing per hour. A pretty impressive feat no matter what the trail conditions are.
Jornet set out on his record-breaking attempt at 8AM local time on Tuesday and reached the summit just five hours and 23 minutes later. Running past the famous Uhuru Peak sign, he immediately started back down the mountain, finishing up an hour and fifty minutes later.
Kilimanjaro is famous for its five climate zones that begin in at the base on the savannah, which gives way to cloud forests and then marshlands. From there, climbers proceed up into high alpine desert and finally arctic conditions at the top. Jornet had to not only deal with those changes in climate along the way, but also large fields of rock left over from the last time that the volcanic Kilimanjaro erupted.
Upon reaching the finish line after his record breaking run, Jornet was greeted by the previous record holder who embraced the man who just shattered his old mark by an hour and thirteen minutes. I guess even he was impressed by this amazing display of strength and endurance.