Kilian Jornet Smashes Aconcagua Speed Record

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Kilian Jornet passes Plaza de Mules base camp en route to the summit of Aconcagua during his record-setting run. Photo courtesy of Summits of My Life.

Kilian Jornet passes Plaza de Mules base camp en route to the summit of Aconcagua during his record-setting run. Photo courtesy of Summits of My Life.

12/23/14 - The extraordinary mountain runner Kilian Jornet has set a dramatic record for climbing and descending 22,841-foot Aconcagua. Jornet ran up and down the Normal Route, starting at the Argentine peak’s Horcones trailhead on the south side, in 12 hours 49 minutes.

This route ascends 13,327 vertical feet in about 25 miles to reach the summit of the Western Hemisphere’s highest peak. Starting at about 6 a.m., Jornet ran 15 miles to the Plaza de Mules base camp at 14,108 feet (normally a two-day approach from the trailhead), and then started the much steeper ascent of the mountain. He reached the summit about 9 hours after starting—slower than he had hoped—and made up time on the return leg by running a bit less than marathon distance, almost all downhill, in less than 4 hours.

Jornet had summited Aconcagua on December 15 to acclimatize, and then attempted a speed run on December 19, but turned around about 1,500 feet below the top in the face of 55mph winds.

Speed records on Aconcagua have been somewhat in dispute, with the fastest reported times in the 15-hour range for the round trip from Horcones. No one has ever reported a time faster than 13 hours 46 minutes for this route.

In June, the Spanish runner broke the speed record for Denali, racing up and down the West Buttress route on North America’s highpoint in 11 hours 48 minutes, nearly 5 hours faster than the previous fastest known time. He also holds the records for running up and down Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. In 2015 he plans to attempt speed ascents of Mt. Everest and Mt. Elbrus, the high points of Asia and Europe.

Date of ascent: December 23, 2014