On February 19, Karl Egloff set a new record on the Western Hemisphere’s Highest peak, logging the entire 50-mile endeavor in 11 hours, 52 minutes, nearly an hour faster than the previous record which was set only two months earlier by the most famous mountain runner ever, Mr. Kilian Jornet.
Who is this guy that is snagging Kilian Jornet’s speed records?
Egloff, 33, is a professional mountain guide from Quito, Ecuador. His father, Charly Egloff, was a Swiss mountain guide. After meeting his Ecuadorian mother in Switzerland the pair returned to her home country to explore the Andes. Charly started taking his son with him on expeditions at a very early age. By the time he was 15 years old, the young Egloff had already ascended mountains higher than 5,000 meters and 6,000m hundreds of times.
Egloff, as a teenager, was drawn to soccer. At age 17 he moved to Switzerland to finish school. Between serving in the Swiss Army and attending university he trained to become a pro soccer player. After graduating with a Business Administration degree, Egloff returned to Ecuador and opened his guiding business, Cumbre Tours.
Injury and age eventually dashed Egloff’s dream of playing professional soccer. He started mountain biking as a hobby, that led to racing, and after a year of racing he was named to Ecuador’s National Team and ended up racing in World Cup events. However his late entry into cycling prevented him from attaining the technical skills necessary to excel in international competitions.
Three years ago, at age 30, Egloff shifted his focus towards guiding and altitude training. Once the porters and guides in Ecuador noticed how fast Egloff moved up the mountains they started encouraging him to go for the speed records. At that time he had never heard of Kilian, who by then was already featured in documentaries, magazine covers and films.
He joined Mammut’s International Athlete Team shortly thereafter, and although he continues to guide, his primary focus is setting speed records for all seven of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, known collectively as The Seven Summits.
To some, it may appear a strange coincidence that Egloff’s record-breaking campage coincides with Jornet’s. In some instances, like at Aconcagua, it appears that Egloff is literally following Jornet’s footsteps up these mountains. But Egloff denies that his project has anything to do with Jornet’s.