How I found UpHill Athlete

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  • #25389

    Here I am, middle aged, climbed for over 20 years, never really accomplished anything exciting, that I am willing to share at least. Recently in my life, a wonderful french woman found me in Washington D.C. After 10 years living in Zion, I moved to Mordor (Lord of the Rings reference to D.C.) to help my family for 3 years. We, the french woman and I, met at the climbing gym, finding each other while throwing ourselves at plastic to maintain fitness for when we/I got into the mountains. Did I mention she was from France? Well the inevitable happened, she had to go back. Then a childhood dream came back to me, Chamonix! I mean how perfect is that, I meet an amazing human being from the very country I’ve had an affinity towards for a few decades. Also, embarrassing to say, but I had never travelled internationally. Over the years I’d made several solid plans to visit Patagonia, saveing money, bought tickets, bought and even used training for the new alpinism and got myself into some great mental shape soloing the walls in Zion. But, in 2008 we found out my grandmother had alzhiemers. So for the better part of a decade I spent my precious time, money, and what I thought was the prime of my physical existence, taking care of her for 5-7 months out of the year.

    Back to the near present, my french lover returned home, and we made plans to see each other in March of 2019. I began scheming, trying to push myself into shape to be physically available for those mountains, they had lingered in my imagination like lost love, the first one you fall hard for. After a few weeks visiting Paris, her family, Poitres and more beautiful buildings then I thought existed in the world we were there, in Chamonix. The silence I sat with seeing a dream in reality filled my lover. She felt what I was in those moments, a young boy, an explorer looking into the unknown of his soul, maybe the soul of all of us. I lost myself in seeing those mountains I had imagined for years, those last places we can explore without millions of federal reserve notes. She watched water fall to the ground distilled from my eyes, she says to me, “I think I am seeing you for the first time, the being you are when you see your/our freedom as humans.” She is in tune with me, nearly like a mother with her newborn child. “Maybe that’s what she is?” I thought to myself. This trip, my time here in these mountains, with these people, my people. This opportunity born from meeting her, our relationship bringing me to this point in time at this place. With all the gusto I could pull together I threw myself into the idea of looking down at the world from some of those peaks, but, self truth sometimes is that sword you must fall on. The weather was not conducive to climbing mountains and I knew I wasn’t in shape physically needed to venture into the unknown of self, to crush this mortal existence in the crucible so many others forged for us. For how inspiring those mountains were to me, the knowledge that I wasn’t ready burned my ego to pieces. Like the dust at the end of Avengers Infinity War when people just disappeared. Hope was still there, a deep knowing, that I had never applied myself, no real accountability, and something I longed for was a good training partner. Slowly through the days, walking the streets and seeing the superior humans beings, more adapt climbers go up for several hours when the weather cleared enough to squik something in and come down with that look. They may have accomplished something on their trip, but it was the same look I had, they wanted more. In that moment I realized we were the same, we all wanted to be better explorers, alpinists, adventures, lovers of the unknown.

    I remember the book I digeglenty didn’t use to the fullest extent possible: Training for the New Alpinism! That’s what I needed, comrodority around training, someone looking over my shoulders, designing things, a trajectory to get me to the physical peak I could accomplish now, at 38. I did what all starry eyed noobs do in an area for the first time, I went to the book shop, bought a grip of maps and in the other hand guide books. I dog eared all of them that night, all the lines painted onto peaks from those previous generations of artists honing that creative force we all are. I looked up training for the new alpinism online to buy a copy and found something better: My savior! UpHill Athlete a coaching biz by the very humans beings whose words I followed and failed with in reading Training for the New Alpinism years before. I knew what the next step was. The email I sent wasn’t grammatically correct, words were misspelled yet there was Scott Johnston on the other side “we’d love to work with you, let’s set up a time to have a call.”

    This is 4 months later. Luckily for me, Steve and Scott were a bit busy, so I got the best coach for me Seth Keena. He has diligently got me onto the path I want to gain mastery of my body through disciplining the mind. Teaching me how to abuse my physical self in the most respectful way. Slowly, methodically, my body has responded in a way I didn’t know possible. I was, and maybe still not a boulderer, or runner, but these two things are making the progress for me that I could have never achieved without Seth, someone to show me the way, and then for me to know. There hasn’t been a bad thing about Uphill Athlete. The minor hiccups I’ve had have been non training related: bee stings, loss of sleep though stressful family situation, hurt back while working on broken machines, loss of sleep from an unexpected visit from my french lover. The ability for Seth to tweak the weeks based on my life has helped encourage my mind, and body to find the best outcome on many different levels. I don’t live in the mountains right now, I only get two trips a year. There are some technical details I am missing in my training, but I spent 10 years in Zion honing those, and in Red Rock doing link ups in 24 hours to move effectively through unknown terrain. This fall I go back to those two places to see how I fair on known long standing projects, things I’ve dreamt of doing, and things I’ve already done to test how 6 months of really training makes me feel, and how I perform. My french lover, who arguably started me on this path will be coming along.

    If you are thinking of taking the next step in whatever path you have in front of you, or choosing the fork in the road towards a greater degree of excellence in your chosen medium. UpHill Athlete will help set the correct course. Ask for Seth Keena (I saw Steve House at Patagonia Store in DC and asked for Seth to get a raise, this is me putting in more effort there) he is a willful partner in training, not just a coach, he cares about my/your well being as a human. He wants you to learn, have fun, grow, get stronger and live the life you want. He doesn’t seem to want alcaldes for what he might accomplish being your coach, or all the awards Steve and Scott should give me. I can’t think of any pitfalls, or cons to what is happening, but one friend said, “the money.” I told him this: the time it would take me to track and monitor, write out plans and workouts coupled with the time it would take me to learn how to do it all correctly by studying, it ends up being a bargain. Because instead I can go into the gym, crush out what Seth has created for me, and all that time I would spend trying to learn what he does, and ultimately be far worse at it, I spend making money with my hobby keeping bees. So, sign up, get on track, and dream big. I will check in after my fall trip to my desert with my french lover and let everyone know how it goes.

    Thank you Seth Keena for what has happened over the last 4 months, and what the future holds for me/us. Thank you Steve and Scott for being busy with your business and other pursuits, and for hiring Seth!


  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #25417

    Dang Rob! We don’t want Seth to get a big head 🙂

    Seriously though. Thank you very much for these kind words. Steve and I feel truly blessed to have such a fine group of coaches and other UA staff. They make all this possible.


    richard.ferron on #25847

    Great read! Thanks for sharing
    Good job to all involved!

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