Uphill Athlete Philosophy

“Man discovers himself when he measures himself against an obstacle.” – Antoine de St. Exupery

Mountains are, metaphorically and physically, the obstacles by which we measure ourselves. You want to be ready. You want to be safe. You want to emerge as a changed person.  You are in the right place; welcome.

There is no magic to endurance training. Instead, there are 100 years of history and a well understood intellectual framework behind the theory and application that applies to the full spectrum of endurance sport. The evolution of training has undergone a lengthy two-steps-forward-one-step-back, trial and error, process that has enabled the ever-expanding boundaries of human performance. We at Uphill Athlete have been successfully applying these principles to Olympians, Navy SEALs and the world’s top Alpinists for many years.

All training is exercise but not all exercise is training

Every effective training plan must adhere to these cardinal principles:

  • It must be gradually progressive in loading the athlete.
  • It must be individualized to the athlete.
  • It must modulate the athlete’s training load.
  • It must be applied consistently to the athlete.

Training is the structured and systematic application of specific amounts, types, and durations of exercise aimed toward achieving a performance result.  It does this by increasing your capacity for physical work in the several realms that make up your event, whatever that is for you. When the time is right you will be able to utilize your hard earned exercise-capacity to its fullest extent and achieve your big mountain goals.

With correct training, good coaching and guidance, plus a long-term approach horizon you can improve your fitness over the span of many years, even over a decade, to achieve your personal maximum sport-specific exercise capacity.

There are a lot of people selling exercise programs as training programs. The hallmark of an exercise plan is randomized physical activity. This betrays the principles of capacity and utilization training and can only be expected to result in generally improved fitness. There is nothing wrong with an exercise program but don’t be fooled into thinking you are training by using that approach. Which one you choose determines not only your path but also your destination.

Descending from the NE fork of the Kahiltna

In 2002 Steve House, already a good alpinist, started training under Scott Johnston. Scott, an accomplished endurance coach with an extensive background as both an alpinist and high-level endurance athlete, brought his own life-long climbing knowledge to inform the planning and execution of Steve’s training. During the ensuing years Steve, alone and with partners, achieved many landmark ascents. The training process transformed Steve from being good, to becoming one of the best in the world.

In 2010 a serious climbing accident cut short Steve’s high-level climbing career. Soon thereafter he and Scott decided to undertake a project to educate the climbing public about training for their favored art-cum-sport: Alpinism.

Alpinism is most simply defined as climbing the biggest, most complex mountains by the most aesthetic routes, while leaving virtually no trace of one’s passage. Their efforts culminated with the 2014 publication of their best-selling book Training for the New Alpinism and the 2015 publication of The New Alpinism Training Log.

This website is the continuation of this project and is designed to dynamically support our mission of openly sharing proven training knowledge for the outdoor sports we love.

It’s also a vehicle to sell well-designed training plans as well as individualized online coaching to alpinists, aspiring Denali and Everest climbers, mountain runners, and ski-mo racers, and all uphill athletes. On our site you will find clear, concise, useful information about training that works and stories of those who went before you.  Welcome to our website. We hope you learn something, but above all, we want you to go outside and apply what you learn.

If you are ready to have your training transform you and explore your own boundaries, we at Uphill Athlete will be honored to share our knowledge and help design the most effective training to meet your goals.

You might also be interested in the following articles: