Andrew Alexander King scales the highest mountains but, metaphorically speaking, he also moves them closer together because this inspirational African-American has provided younger generations with a beacon of hope for those that may want to join the world of climbing and exploration.
From his early days of appreciating his local surroundings as a child, through to his feats of athleticism across the globe, this philanthropist makes the most of every moment to evolve himself mentally and physically.
M&F sat down with the super fit 34-year-old to find out how he trains for climbing large mountains and surfing those big waves, and we soon found out that his give-and-take relationship with the Earth is the secret to his success.
“I grew up running track for 13 years,” says King. “I started running track in Detroit, where I was born, because it wasn’t really economically possible for us to do any other sports. It was fairly cost-free. Growing up in that city, at that time, it was pretty hard, so I just ran up and down the block with my friends.”
As he matured, King was able to use his passion and dedication for track to land a scholarship and become the first member of his family to go to college. He became an NCAA Division I athlete and also played football, where he made captain.
Courtesy of Will SaundersFrom Track to Further Afield
In his teenage years, King’s household had made the move from Detroit to Hawaii. “That changed my entire life, and my entire trajectory,” recalls the trailblazer. “I really just started to explore more, in nature, for more of a peaceful and meditative sense of life, and then climbing, or hiking and trekking to the tops of volcanoes or different trails, and then surfing in the same day after meditation was just something that I just found to be my way of living.” During his runs, King would race up and down Diamond Head, an active volcano, furthering his desire to explore the world and become more in-tune with himself. Now, King is on a mission to become the first African-American to climb the seven highest mountains and volcanoes on each continent, and while this is a test of endurance and will require every second of his dedicated training and skills, his “Between Worlds Project” is also about shining a light on underrepresented cultures in the places that he visits.
“Every year, I sit down with myself at a table,” says King. “I shut everything down, and I meditate and reflect on the year.” For this adventurer, being a better version of himself year-on-year is something that he takes very seriously from a human, social, and athletic sense.
Courtesy of Will SaundersNo Moment is Wasted
Even in the chaos of a raging ocean, King is able to take control of the moment by finding his inner-calm and controlling his breath to come out of the other side without fear or panic. “We all get the same hours in a day, 24 hours, that’s it, I can’t cheat that and I can’t break that,” says King. “But coming from an athletic background, the level of discipline started very young. There’s a fine line between talent and dedication. You can be the most talented surfer or climber in the world, but if you have no structure and commitment and discipline, you will peak and the person that is waking up every day, that isn’t as talented, will soon eat away and catch up to you, and then push you back. They are falling in love with the process, and not taking talent for granted.”
King loves the great outdoors, but if the weather is adverse, he doesn’t cancel his training. Instead, he might opt for a bouldering session in a rock-climbing gym, away from the elements, so that he can focus on his grip and some of the more isolated movements.
In order to train his own talent, King is coached in multiple disciplines. For strength, he engages in Isometric exercises. King also regularly undertakes cognitive tests that can be done anywhere on a phone or tablet, to check his breathwork and mental clarity. “You need to know how your mind reacts, because it has to be very fast,” says King.
In the gym, Andrew Alexander King is just as at home as he is in nature, because he understands the importance of training his talent in order to be the best version of himself. The pathfinder pushes weighted sleds to work on his explosive power, and flips tires to replicate the unpredictable weights that he faces on his many treks and climbs. King walks at the bottom of swimming pools with dumbbells in hand, and cycles and sprints for a cardio hit. “We go running in the morning at 6am, we have surfing after that, then we have weightlifting and conditioning, and then we have rock climbing to end the day,” says the pioneer, breaking down an example, single day, of epic training.
Andrew Alexander King is Moving Mountains Together
During King’s many perilous adventures such as scaling Mount Fuji, where he rescued a fellow climber from freezing, or was struck with altitude sickness the day before a big multi-pitch climb in Kenya, the explorer is just as interested in the indigenous populations as his own trailblazing community. King understands that visiting new places is a privilege, and seeks to use his Between Worlds Project as a way to raise awareness to the underserved. He’s passionate about moving people closer together and whether that involves something as simple as donating kit to aspiring climbers, or highlighting more complex issues around the lottery ticket of where we are all born, Andrew Alexander King will only work with bands such as Sea to Summit , Black Diamond and other responsible companies that are committed to doing good. For King, exploration isn’t an Instagram photo opportunity. His entire life is dedicated to seeing the world through an unfiltered lens, appreciating the universe that we all inhabit, and trying to leave it in a better place than how he left it.
“I always say, are you doing it for the LIKE reasons, or the RIGHT reasons?”