Bill Allen’s guiding career stretches across 20 years, and he’s climbed the Seven Summits twice over. Uphill Athlete coaching for both him and his clientele led to back-to-back successes on Everest and Denali in 2016.
Most climbers are quick to highlight their own personal goals and achievements. But in chatting with mountain guide Bill Allen, co-owner of MountainTrip, about his recent forays into the mountains, I immediately noticed his remarkable care for others’ goals: in this case, helping his clients reach tall and difficult summits.
On how he got involved with Uphill Athlete, he says, “I was searching for a training program that I could steer clients to and get them to show up [on our expeditions]in better shape.”
To learn more about the program, encourage his clients to get on board, and to help gauge their progress along the way, he began training with Steve and Scott.
In the past, Bill says he’s “always trained hard” prior to long expeditions to Alaska or the Himalaya. However, having trained with a DIY approach for many years, he says that he now trains more “wisely” with the limited time he has due to the input from his coaches. “If you have someone looking over your training, you’re not likely to skip days or blow it off,” he says. “You’ve got to do the work because they’re monitoring everything.”
On this year’s expeditions, Bill says he personally had bigger energy reserves and quicker recovery times than in the past. For his clients, he notes with conviction, “If everyone trained with Steve and Scott for six months prior to these big trips, my life as a guide would be so much easier.”
By that, he means that being fit for the mountains leads to faster ascent times, safer climbs, more summit success, and therefore more fun to be had.
Bill’s investment in these annual expeditions is major. On top of other day-to-day work and life duties, he talks to some of his clients every other day leading up to the big trips to make sure they’re on track and prepared. He wants things to go smoothly once they’re on the mountain.
The greatest benefit of coaching, he says, for both him and his clients is that is is customizable to the individual. “We all have a little amount of time to invest in training if we’re not a professional athlete,” he says. “Steve and Scott are able to adjust the training to how life really works out. It’s nice to not be spinning the wheels.”
Of the climbers on this year’s expeditions, he’d climbed with one group beforehand in Ecuador and another on Kilimanjaro. He says, “I could see a big improvement with the guys on the mountain who did the training versus other climbers who didn’t.”
This past spring marked Bill’s third time up Everest, but he said this time that summit day was special and well timed. He recalls, “We chose a nice summit day without a lot of other people pushing to the top. It was cool, because instead of going at a speed that was dictated by crowds, we got to go at a speed that was dictated by our physical ability.”
Denali went well, too: “It was a father and son duo. The kid was on his first big expedition and he really rallied. We were able to make really good times every day, on all of our carries, and on the summit day, which was almost a 10-hour day. It was awesome. We were able to get up and get down and do that trip all under two weeks. We cruised right on up.”
In the end, both trips were a fitting cap for all the hard work that preceded the efforts themselves.
While Bill’s motivations remain largely in seeing his clients improve, he has big goals for himself this coming year as well: a ski descent of Mustagata, a 7,546-meter peak in China, is on the radar, and he hopes to finish the AMGA Ski Guide Exam.
Ready to Climb That Mountain?
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