For me the most important statistic is ascent meters per hour. I don’t understand why this statistic is not widely used for measuring uphill performance.
Because it’s only comparable on identical terrain. For example, can you run at 1,000 vertical meters per hour on a 1% grade?
Can I use this as pace for the HR drift test estimating AeT?
Yes, but only on a calibrated treadmill at a specific grade. Many treadmills are inaccurate and imprecise, so they’re not apples-to-apples. And as soon as the grade changes, so will your climb rate.
I’ve tested climb rates on many different inclines. The sweet spot for maximum rate of ascent is between 20-25%. The more training, the higher part of the range. Above and below 20-25%, climb rates will be lower at a given heart rate.