Andrew Alexander King scales the highest mountains but, metaphorically speaking, he also brings them closer because this inspirational African American has given younger generations a glimmer of hope for those who might want to join the world of climbing and exploration.
From his early days appreciating his local environment as a child, to his sporting achievements around the world, this philanthropist seizes every moment to grow mentally and physically.
M&F sat down with the super fit 34-year-old to find out how he trains to climb big mountains and surf those big waves, and we soon found that his give-and-take relationship with the earth is the secret of his success is .
"I grew up running for 13 years," says King. “I started running in Detroit, where I was born, because it was not economically possible for us to do other sports. It was pretty much free. Growing up in this city was pretty tough back then, so I just ran up and down the block with my friends.”
As he got older, King was able to use his passion and dedication to athletics to earn 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 became captain.
Courtesy of Will Saunders
From the race track into the distance
In his teenage years, King's household had moved from Detroit to Hawaii. "That changed my whole life and my entire career," the pioneer recalls. "I've just started exploring more in nature to have a more peaceful and meditative attitude to life, and then climbing or hiking and trekking, to the tops of volcanoes or on different trails after meditation the same day just surfing something that I just found my way of life.” During his runs, King ran up and down Diamond Head, an active volcano, fueling his desire to explore the world and be more in tune with himself come. w King is on a mission to become the first African American to scale the seven highest mountains and volcanoes on every continent, and while that's an endurance test and requires every second of his dedicated training and skill, his Between Worlds Project is accomplished it's also about shedding light on underrepresented cultures in the places he visits.
"Every year I sit down at a table with myself," says King. "I switch everything off and meditate and reflect on the year." For this adventurer, being a better version of himself year after year is something he takes very seriously from a human, social and sporting point of view.
Courtesy of Will Saunders
moment is wasted
Even in the chaos of a raging ocean, King is able to control the moment, finding his inner calm and controlling his breath to get out the other side without fear or panic. "We all have the same hours in a day, 24 hours, that's all, I can't cheat and I can't break that," says King. “But with a sporting background, the level of discipline started very young. There's a fine line between talent and dedication. You may be the most talented surfer or climber in the world, but if you don't have structure, commitment and discipline, you will peak and the person who wakes up each day who isn't as talented will soon eat away and catch up towards you, and then push back. They fall in love with the process and don't take talent for granted.”
King loves the great outdoors, but he doesn't cancel his workouts when the weather is inclement. Instead, he might opt for a bouldering session at a climbing gym, away from the elements, so he can focus on his grip and some of the more isolated movements.
In order to train his own talent, King is coached in several disciplines. He does isometric exercises to strengthen himself. King also runs regular cognitive tests, which can be taken anywhere on a phone or tablet, to check his breathing and mental clarity. "You have to know how your mind is reacting because it has to be very fast," says King.
Andrew Alexander King is just as at home in the gym as he is in nature because he understands the importance of cultivating your talent to be the best version of yourself. The Boy Scout pushes weighted sleds to work on his explosive strength and flips tires to recreate the unpredictable weights he faces on his many hikes and climbs. King walks on the bottom of pools with dumbbells in hand and pedals and sprints for cardio kicks. "We go running at 6 a.m., after that we surf, then we have weightlifting and conditioning, and then we climb to finish the day," says the pioneer, breaking down an example of a single day of epic training.
Andrew Alexander King moves mountains together
While Kings has endured many perilous adventures, such as climbing Mount Fuji where he saved another climber from freezing to death, or being stricken with altitude sickness the day before a major multi-pitch trek in Kenya, the explorer is as interested in indigenous people as he is in pioneering his own community. King understands that it is a privilege to visit new places and seeks to use his Between Worlds project to raise awareness for the underserved. He's passionate about bringing people closer together, and whether it's something as simple as donating gear to aspiring climbers or highlighting more complex issues around the lottery ticket where we were all born, Andrew Alexander King only gets involved with bands working together like Sea to Summit, Black Diamond and other responsible companies committed to doing good. For King, exploring is not an Instagram photo opportunity. His whole life is dedicated to seeing the world through an unfiltered lens, appreciating the universe we all live in and trying to leave it in a better place than when he left it.
"I always say, are you doing it for the LIKE reasons or the RIGHT reasons?"