Kilian Jornet is the best in the world at what he does. He is an outlier, someone with inborn gifts who has trained them into seemingly superhuman capacities. He has won every mountain running competition in the world, many of them 100 mile races, numerous times. He can run for 10 hours without food or water. He runs up mountains other people climb–Mont Blanc in five hours instead of two days; Everest without supplementary oxygen, twice in four days, the first time while sick, the second time in 17 hours. He has gone from fame in a niche sport to a million followers on Instagram.
Above the Clouds is his account of his passion and his life. He describes his childhood with his mountain guide father and his mother who, when the kids were little, would get them ready for bed and then lead them out into the forest and have them listen their way home in the dark. At the age of 4 he could hike for seven miles without resting. From there he never stopped, pushing his body’s endurance and capacity for functioning without food, while always doing what he loved, running through the mountains. The book is a gripping and inspiring read, and would pair well with Skyrunner by Emilie Forsberg, to whom Jornet is married, herself a record-breaking high-altitude mountain runner. A year ago they had a child–it boggles the mind what this kid might be capable of. Forsberg’s book has the added pleasure of being lavishly illustrated, and was reviewed on this blog in April, 2019.