The Summits of My Life Guiding Principles

In Summits of My Life, Kilian Jornet brings his epic mountain project to life by documenting the awe-inspiring, record-setting attempts of the ascent and descent records for some of the world’s most important mountains. 

These are the principles that have guided the Summits of My Life project:

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1. Nobody told us who to be. Nobody told us to embark on this journey. Nobody told us it would be easy. Someone said that we are what we dream. If we don’t dream, we die.

We will fight for our dreams and we will follow our passions, because we believe that the meaning of life lies not in following others’ footsteps, but in finding our own path to what we love. And, despite any difficulties, we learn from each misstep and press on.

2. We will follow the instinct that takes us toward the unknown.

Taking risks is not like making a bet; it’s evolving and it’s changing each one of us. Being free is being ourselves, making our own decisions, not following anyone. It’s choosing: choosing to have a family, choosing a job, choosing a peak. On the mountain, we are the ones who trace our own path, the ones who decide whether we take this path or that one, whether we climb this peak or that one. Sometimes we do it and sometimes we don’t, but it’s up to us to make our own path where there is none.

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3. We won’t look at the obstacles we’ve overcome, but the ones ahead.

We should learn from our past without living in it; we should use the experience, respect, and fear that we’ve lived in order to build a solid future. The past isn’t the life that we should let define us. We will live each instant from the present, always looking at what lies ahead of us.

4. It’s not about being the fastest, strongest, or biggest. It’s about being ourselves.

Human beings have shown that, with technology, we are capable of doing just about anything. But does that really matter? We need to learn to live with less, with only what we need to be fully human, the most integrated with the environment, with nature. Our power is in our feet, our legs, our bodies, and our minds.

5. We aren’t just runners, alpinists, or skiers. We aren’t just athletes. We are people.

Shared emotions don’t add up; they multiply. A summit isn’t a geographic point, a date, and a time. Each summit is a warehouse of memories and emotions. It’s the people who accompanied us and those who waited for us at the bottom. We are all the people that we love and admire, those who go with us without ever being there.

6. We aren’t sure we’ll do it, but we are sure that we’ll find happiness.

Failure is not trying. Failure is not enjoying every step. Failure is not feeling. There will be thorns in the path, there’ll be pain, and there’ll be objectives that lie far off in the distance, but none of that is failure—not if we let the journey be what fills us up, even if we don’t make it to the top.

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7. Simplicity is key.

We’re going to the mountain without aid, without assistance, without external help. We’re going humbly, without seeking to best the mountain because we know it will always be stronger, and we will go as far as it lets us. We’ll learn to live with the mountain, the very rocks themselves, the plants, and the ice—whatever lies underneath the surface, whatever was there before us and will continue on there after us.

8. We’ll go in silence.

We will make sure our journey goes unnoticed, that each trek leaves nothing more than our footprints that the wind will eventually erase. We carry our authentic selves within us, and it’s only in silence that we can begin to explore ourselves.

9. We’ll go with integrity.

There’s no helping hand to intervene when we’re in danger on the mountain, and there’s nobody to congratulate us each time we achieve what we set out to do. We can’t abandon the path because there is no path. Because hypocrisy doesn’t exist on the mountain. Because the mountain is simply the mountain. For better or for worse, we are all responsible for our own actions.

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10. We’re always searching for something—is it life?

What is the meaning of any venture, of any journey, of life? Is it to achieve goals or make progress toward them? Is it to reach the horizon or discover the landscape we cross as we walk toward it? Is life the medal at the end of a race or the emotions and feelings that we keep inside as we go? We are forged in dreams and emotions.

With these guiding principles and our ways of seeing and experiencing the mountain—and a list of the summits we wanted to reach—we put together a small team of people to give shape to the Summits of My Life project, and we put it into action.

—Kilian Jornet & friends

In Summits of My Life, Kilian Jornet brings his epic mountain project to life by documenting the awe-inspiring, record-setting attempts of the ascent and descent records for some of the world’s most important mountains. 

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