Karl Egloff is a skyrunner and FKT record holder from Ecuador. He is the fastest man on the planet who climb up and down on 4 mountains of the 7 Summits program: Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Elbrus, and Denali. Karl is also a good rock climber, so enjoy his exclusive interview to SKALOLAZ.PRO team and find out many more interesting things about Karl Egloff.
Where do you live? On what altitude?
I was born, raised and live today in Quito, 15min away from the big capital of Ecuador. We live at 2450m altitude and Quito itself is 2800m high.
Please tell us about your family? Does your wife practice some sports? What about your son? Do you want to make him a sportsman in the future? In what kind of sport?
I'm a very happy family man, father and husband. The most important in life is my family. My wife, Adriana, she is 37 years old, was born and comes from Ecuador loves sports, ran several marathons, and hired me as her guide for Kilimanjaro, this is how we got together. She has climbed with me almost all volcanos in Ecuador, also 3 of the 7summits. Since she became the mother of our son, she has not been able to return to the big mountains, but one day we will keep climbing. In the meantime, we spend time with our son on the smaller mountains, rivers, countryside. Julian is 3 and a half years old, he loves to do anything outside so he is a huge fan of the countryside, climbing, hiking, enjoys every single moment we can spend together even in the garden of our house. I speak with him in Swiss- German, he will be attending a German School from this year on, the same way I grew up with my family and Swiss father, even the same school on those days. I don’t want to pressure him to do anything but of course I try to spend and support him to do outdoor activities and love nature as well as I do. I guess we will decide what to do but I’m sure we will be a huge mountain lover as well =). He also boulders (climbs) at home a lot as we have a climbing boulder area where I train a lot to keep fit for the mountains when I can't go out as right now.
Do you train climbing now? How often? What is your level as a climber?
I would like to spend more time climbing but I'm always prioritizing my running skills. I climb today around 7a and try to be fast while climbing for the projects. I climb normally 2 times a month and at home in my small boulder area around 2 times a week, but it depends which time of the year and what project is coming I increase or even ignore climbing.
Do you have a climbing wall at home?
Yes, a boulder area, it is 10 meters long and 2 meters high with roofs on both sides, enough for having fun and suffering a bit =)
What about rocks? Do you practice rock climbing?
Yes, in Ecuador we have beautiful spots. Just 10 min away from where I live I can find 2 good places for rock climbing, just 1 pitch long but many routes of different levels and skills. As a mountain guide and also due to my project I have to keep fit in climbing but I'm not spending that much time on it as I become slow for running and fast ascending mountains.
Do you have a regular belay partner?
Yes, my good old friend who is also in every record attempt I do, Nicolás Miranda/
Do you climb trad?
Yes, I do, as a guide, I have to practice and keep always training but I’m not used to climb much in trad as we don’t have near home many places to do it.
Do you have any climbing plans in 2020?
I’m since 2016 an UIAGM / IFMGA Mountain Guide Aspirant so this first semester I was willing to do the final guiding exams to become my batch but unfortunately they have been canceled because of COVID 19 until the end of the year so probably my entire plan 2020 will change and I’m not sure what will be possible and what not. If things would get better soon I was planning for an FKT attempt in Carstensz Pyramid late November and probably in January 2021 Vinson Massif so I can focus on the very last step of the project which is Everest starting from the next year 2021- 2022. This regarding the 7 summits, then I will try to keep competing in important skyraces and mountain races.
Tell about Cumbre Tours? Who are your clients?
I started with Cumbre Tours together with my wife back in 2013. We are a trekking and hiking company in Ecuador offering tours, climbs and expeditions in Ecuador and also outside like for example at Aconcagua we have a very good reputation for organizing expeditions. The FKTs have made me a professional athlete so sometimes it is hard to spend much time in the agency but I’m so happy my wife and my team are there pushing the agency. When I’m not training or traveling I focus especially in the high season as much as I can in the agency to guide myself as much as I can. I don’t want to quit guiding, it gives me the opportunity to get to know amazing people, makes me also humbled and thankful for everything I have when I’m out there. Cumbre Tours is a family business where I put my heart and I hope my son will take over one day.
What are the most popular tours?
Cotopaxi 5897 m is definitely the highlight for climbers all over the world. Combined tours to acclimatize properly and do many other mountains. Ecuador is a paradise for amateur mountain and altitude climbing, our volcanos are beautiful, have amazing glaciers, they are all so close to Quito and the infrastructure is great. You have amazing refuges, hotels, mountain lodges. People are always very surprised at how beautiful the lodging, food and the mountains are.
What are the plans of your company for 2020?
To survive! Tourism is a very difficult and sensible line, sometimes everything can be very successful but it just needs bad news from your country and nobody comes, so it is for sure one of the most damaged economies while and after COVID 19. We hope people are traveling this year and we can recover for our high season which is October - February in Ecuador and also January and February at Aconcagua.
Do you have a coach?
Not anymore. I was always used to train by myself, just a year ago I asked for help and had a very good coach from France. But it was very difficult to work with him because life is not like many athletes' lives. I’m a mountain guide and spend a lot of time at high altitudes, come back home sometimes very tired, then train in altitude and try to become very fast is also not the same as training at sea-level. So I decided to keep training by myself, I enjoy to do what my body asks me to do and I also know by heart what I need when I’m going for a next FKT attempt.
How many times a week do you train?
It depends on what's next and what time of the year. Normally Oct- Feb I'm guiding a lot, spending many hours above 5000 m to 6962 m (Aconcagua every year). I try to run if I'm not guiding during this period but it is such an important period for my FKT goals as well as financial support for the budget of each project so I cannot quit. From March on I don’t climb much and focus on becoming fast in train running. At this time of the year, I try to train around 20hrs a week with 7000-8000m vertical gain but it can also be a flatter week or a faster (less training but mainly speed) as well as while guiding I can do a lot of vertical gain and many hours but mainly very slow to win also blood cells.
Do you train somebody?
I wish I would have more time, probably when I’m over with the FKTs, right now not.
How many kilometers do you run in a week?
When I’m in the flat part of my training it can be around 100k but normally I’m more focused on the quality and positive gain than in distance as I’m not an ultra runner, I just want to be fast in what I do and try to focus on Skyraces and Trail Running Races with max 42 km.
How many sneakers do you have?
Many =) I’m sponsored by La Sportiva since this year 2020 so I couldn’t be happier to be able to choose which model I’m gone use today but to answer your question, around 10 pairs.
Tell about the 7 Summits project? What summit was the hardest one to climb?
I have done so far 4 in FKT of the 7 summits and I thing Denali has been the hardest one as I had to be fast and efficient on the way up to take as much time possible to run down and still being able to beet Kilians Skiing FKT down. I’m happy I made it but I have amazing memories of Denali as well as of any other mountains I have been.
Did your plans change due to coronavirus lockout? What are you going to do in 2020?
I have to wait to see when are we allowed to plan properly again. I had many plans, I hope until the September I can organize to closes 2020 with 1- 2 of the 7 summits.
What do you think about Nirmal Purja and his Project Possible? Don’t you think about the Himalayas?
The Himalayas are for sure in my head for many years, it is so expensive that I wanted to be sponsored for that. I’m really looking forward for 2021 and 2022 as we are planning for several 8tausenders to climb and try some of them an FKT to feel and breathe above 7000m. Nirmal Purja project can be very discussed in different ways, the logistic (helicopters, approaches, permits, special treatment), also the oxygen but what is a fact is that the way he did it was just amazing as you need not just a great shape and good luck, you need perfect timing, team, pacification, organization and so on.
Do you agree that the future of mountaineering will belong to sportsmen like you, who can go to the summit much faster than typical alpinists did it earlier?
I think that “time” is today the main problem. You cannot imagine yourself as an amateur to spend 2-3 months not working climbing a mountain, so I’m sure people will do it faster, train more in altitude tents and gyms, use more and more helicopters to approach as money is not a problem as we can see. Running up I think is not for everyone as it is very hard, it is dangerous and you don’t enjoy it, on the end you can take 2-3 weeks to climb it smooth and enjoy the proves so I’m sure they will be more like me but the main quantity will do it the way I mentioned.
What are your goals as a skyrunner and trailrunner for the next 2-3 years?
To finish the FKT of every 7 summits until 2022 or 2023, to keep up with the best trail runners especially on skyrunning event with high altitude but my biggest goal is to be a good daddy and good husband, not thinking all the time in my projects, also being much for my family at home and not missing the best moments of my son in his first years.