Updated on January 12, 2022

In my last newsletter I had asked you to join me in “wrestling the why”, and you responded with a quality and quantity of thought provoking insight well beyond my expectations. So today I share your thoughts with. After all, this conversation belongs to us all.

Noel Gerritse wrote: Training helps me feel better: I’ve felt like my best self when I’ve been in the best shape of my life. But besides those shorter moments, what’s consistently true is that when I train I feel like a better version of myself. Happier, stronger, more balanced – both physically as well as emotionally. In turn what that means (for example) these days is: I can be a better dad. A good and noble purpose as I see it, raising quality of life for me and those around me...It seems that for just about anyone in the world, progress tends to feel good. And progress comes through training. Maybe the most direct, physical manifestation of that is a physical workout in all its forms. Because here you are shaping and strengthening the one thing we truly own: our body. But it’s just as true for all it’s other less tangible forms.

Ken Wylie wrote: To mature. To witness ourselves in the context of what we do and to monitor our responses to situations, challenges and events to craft higher and ever more evolved responses.

Kurt Sanderson wrote: We appreciate that our times spent outside make us stronger, much more now than ever before. We invite people to join us. We adapt to our new friends’ technical skill levels along the way and become stronger. I can become just as strong in a way, pushing myself with a more experienced alpinist at the helm, as I can heading out with a newer outdoor enthusiast and returning the favor. We always learn something about ourselves and each other. Upwards.

Patrick Hidalgo wrote: The benefits of committing to a training system far outweigh the immediate satisfaction of hitting the end goals of training. Each daily completed session is successfully completed task just like making your bed. This sets you up to successfully complete more tasks throughout the day. Everyone is different, but whenever I have already done something physically challenging early in the day, the mental tests seem almost trivial.

Ben Clayton-Jolly wrote: The unspoken vision of Uphill Athlete is more than enabling individuals to achieve their mountain sports goals. These achievements can be deeply satisfying but I think the impact of fully engaging mind, body and spirit in wild places, as an individual or group based experience can have a profoundly positive effect on us as human beings.

Jim Warren wrote: The big answer for me is the building of a community, which supports an individual’s efforts in whatever direction the individual is taking. The community is not there solely for one individual, but each individual finds support in the community…I look back and see, for exmple, that on 8 February 2021, I hiked up to Deception Peak and scrambled on snow, ice, and rock to summit Lake Peak in the Santa Fe Mountains of New Mexico. I remember crossing paths with a man who was hiking uphill with a backpack full of water jugs. I said, “Do you know Uphill Athlete?” He said, “You bet I do. They helped me climb Denali in 2017.” We didn’t exchange contact info or anything, but we realized immediately that both of us were part of the Uphill Athlete community.

That is why.

Much of this is reflected back by Eric Brymer a researcher focusing on the phenomenology of extreme sports, who wrote: People who engage in extreme sports are anything but irresponsible risk-takers with a death wish. They are highly trained individuals with a deep knowledge of themselves, the activity and the environment who do it to have an experience that is life enhancing and life changing. The experience is very hard to describe in the same way that love is hard to describe. It makes the participant feel very alive where all senses seem to be working better than in everyday life, as if the participant is transcending everyday ways of being and glimpsing their own potential.

Read the original article about Eric Brymer in Psychology Today

This is not the first, nor the last, time we will collectively wrestle the why. Allow me to quote from the concluding words of my book, Beyond the Mountain, which I wrote in 2008:

These stories are not fairy tales. They are the thoughts and actions of a fallible person and my very human partners. Do not mistakenly assume that these portraits exalt courage, bravery, skill, or intelligence. Though these qualities bear some part, so do fear, inadequacy, and compromise. Within alpinism’s narrow framework we seek transcendence and relentlessly pursue what remains hidden from us on flat ground: our true selves…

I move slowly, arching my back to take in the light and the scenery. I stretch my arms to bathe in it. Absorb it. It is difficult to leave this solitude and beauty. I cannot stay here indefinitely. Mechanically I slide down the ropes after Vince, reluctant to abandon this state of grace we have achieved, here, together, beyond the mountain.

originally posted on January 3, 2022:

There is no guru, no six easy steps, no diet, no magic key to fitness. There are, however, over 100 years of history and a well-understood intellectual framework built on practice and research which clearly establishes the best way to train for endurance sports.

And us, a world-wide community of athletes each engaged in individual challenges and exploration. And while billions of dollars and countless hours are spent on better clothing and equipment for mountain enthusiasts, the big change underfoot, the paradigm shift, is you. And us. Together.

Our methods are common tools that anyone can use to push themselves forward.  It has been eleven years since we were originally inspired to write our first training manual, and what inspires us to continue to share is the persistent information void when it comes to training for mountain sports. We have successfully demonstrated a systematic approach, using proven principles, to help you improve both your chances of achieving your goals, and your long-term fitness and safety in whatever sport you are practicing. That’s what Training for the New Alpinism was, and still is, all about. This is what we continue to offer here at Uphill Athlete.

Today there are more ways than ever before to engage your own desire for progress.

Connect. Join a training group. Or answer a question in the forum.

Learn. Read an article. Listen to a podcast. Or Ask a question of your own.

Train. Try a training plan. Or get started with a coach.

What, precisely, is the Mission of Uphill Athlete today? People come here for three reasons: To connect, to learn, and to train. But why?

Moving into a new year, let’s engage us. Because together we are wiser than any guru.  Let’s flex our brains to ask questions (or give answers) about the how. Let’s train. But most of all I want us to have the courage to collectively wrestle the why.

And please let me know what you come up with,

Steve House

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