Jason Black: Mountain Climbing Tips from a World Record Holder!

February 18, 2018
Jason Black: Mountain Climbing Tips from a World Record Holder!

Dear Explorer,

Do you love mountain climbing or are eager to try this incredible sport? Today, we have for you tips on how to train for an epic mountain climbing challenge and also the gear you can invest in to help you complete the journey successfully!
Last month, we spoke with Irish endurance athlete, Jason Black, who has summited Mount Everest, K2, Aconcagua, Mount Kilimanjaro to name just a few. In fact, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice in under 24 hours establishing a World Record!
This record holder reveals to us his ‘tips and tricks’ on training for such tough and incredible mountain adventures and what gear he prefers to use. Also, as a competitive endurance cyclist, Jason tells us what challenges he’s pursuing later on this year.
If you’re in Muscat, come listen and meet Jason Black LIVE at our next ub-cool TALKS tonight!  More details about Jason’s Black ub-cool TALKS here>



ub-cool: How many days per week do you train ahead of your next climbing challenge?

“I’m a full time professional global endurance athlete. I suppose, for me, every day is preparation for my next expedition, my next climb, my next journey, my next adventure.”

I train 6 days a week and take one day a week off completely. On a day to day basis, my training is made up of generally a 7 AM first training session, which could be up of two hours. After this, I break for breakfast. But, usually, I train my first session on an empty stomach.

ub-cool: How many hours on average do you train per day?

Jason Black: 5 hours every day.

One session first thing in the morning (1-2 hours), then usually another session in the afternoon or evening, which is up to four hours long. These could either be training in the mountains or on the bike. So, generally, it’s two sessions a day totalling 5 hours.

I try to get it all done before 5 o’clock in the evening to allow my body to start adjusting to lower the demand on the body. It prepares me for a relaxing evening and then I can sleep better. I generally find that if I train late at night that it affects my sleep pattern.

Jason Black

ub-cool: What kind of training do you do?

Jason Black: I do both aerobic and anaerobic training which is made up of either biking up in the mountains or running.

I’m also a big swimmer. I swim 3, 4, or 5km per day, and I average about two -three days of swimming per week.

“I’m a big believer in promoting a balanced approach to training.”

I think it’s all about having a very varied approach to it. I think that’s how you can be strong. Sometimes I think if people are very single-minded about their sport, all the other parts of their body become weak.

“For me, as a mountaineer or an endurance athlete, it takes all parts of my body. I need to be strong above as well as I do below.”

I’m conscious that I have to haul this body around and I generally have to haul with me a lot of equipment on my back while I’m climbing.

“So, for me, it’s about being light and efficient – so, I try to keep my body fat levels down at about 7-8%.”

You know, that’s about it. I love a good healthy lifestyle. I do enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. Psychologically, it keeps me safe, and it also holds onto my marriage.



ub-cool: You mentioned your morning training happens on an empty stomach. Can you tell us more about your meals after that?

Jason Black: Yes, in the morning, I get up and go straight into a workout session with no food in my system. I teach my body to use its natural fats as fuel.

“I’m a fat-adapted athlete. I use fat as fuel. I don’t eat much carbohydrates, if any. So, I’m a low carb, high fat burner.”

I’ve been in that state for two years and I’ve been teaching about how to burn fat as fuel. I suppose the theory behind that is because with the environments I’m in, carrying a lot of carbohydrate fuel isn’t efficient. It’s unnecessary and I suppose it goes back to the primitive way we used to eat and used to train our bodies with food. Fat was the source of fuel, so I chose to go back there.


ub-cool: Was it easy adjusting to a ketogenic diet?

Jason Black: It took a lot of time to hone that craft.

“A ketogenic diet is not easy. It’s very specific to each and every individual. There’s guidelines as to how to do it, but I think you have dial them to your individuality – what works for you.”

Generally, I follow a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. I keep my sugar levels under control, and my insulin levels are low. I have oily fish like mackerel, sardines or things that replaces the Omega-6 oils in my fat stores and in my skin.


Gear & Equipment

ub-cool: What advice do you have for amateur mountain climbers in terms of what gear and equipment to invest in ahead of their climbs?

Jason Black: For a beginner reading this article, what I’d advise is to not set you sights too high, too fast. What I mean is that I meet a lot of people who are motivated to try to take on these big mountains with very little experience.

“I think start small and grow into your expedition. And, by doing that, your gear will grow with you. You’ll get an understanding of what works on what type of mountain and what type of terrain. And, as you climb to higher altitudes, the gear level and the gear experience will come with you because that’s all part of the learning process.”

Jason Black

Footwear: Shoes & Orthotics

The gear that you’ll require for the likes of Mount Everest and the gear that you’ll require in Tanzania is two very different pieces of gear. But my advice is, first and foremost, start with the basics.

“Start with the feet. The most important point of contact is the ground. If you’re spending money on anything, it should be on footwear.”

It is the most important. Why? Well you want to have good support. You want to avoid any injury like blisters, and those types of things. I meet so many people and they don’t invest in the feet.


ub-cool: Which brand of shoes do you use?

Jason Black: I like using Scarpa – they’re a French boot.

They work well. There is a lot available on the market – I’d suggest to get out there and try them on with a profession fitting in a shop.

Also, orthotics inside the shoes can be important as well. Some people underestimate it and don’t realize that a standard boot or shoe often comes with a flat footbed. I recommend that everyone researches the arch support of their own foot because if your arch is collapsing, you’re going to have major issues with muscles. So, it’s about getting out there and experimenting.

Footwear: Socks

Next up is socks. You need to have good working socks. There’s no point in having socks that absorb moisture and then all of a sudden you may as well be wearing a pair of wet things on your feet.

IMG_2120Jason used a tent from The North Face during one of his climbing adventures | Image Source: Jason Black

Invest in your Equipment!

Pay the money and invest.

“You’re investing in yourself. You’re not investing in anything else but your own safety. And, I think what’s really important is when you get those two fundamentals correct, then the climb, the walk, the trek, the expedition becomes fun. Because then you’re not concerned about blisters and you’re not concerned about all those things that make the climb distasteful. My feet are sore. My legs are sore. That usually from having bad footwear.”

Upcoming Adventures and Challenges

ub-cool: I know you’re also an endurance cyclist in addition to being a mountaineer. What are your upcoming challenges this year in both areas?

Jason Black

Jason Black: This year, I have a lot coming up.

  • 25th April: I’m going back to Italy. I’m going to do Race Across Italy which is an endurance cycling race of 1,100 km through the mountains from the Adriatic Sea to the other side and back again.
  • 6th June: I’m heading off to California to start Race Across America, which is another endurance cycling trip but this time 5,000km, from one side of America to the other. I hope to set a world record there.
  • I’ve also registered for the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association World Championship.
  • Mountain climbing: I’m going to try to sneak in one of the seven summits and that could be Antarctica perhaps – I’m not sure yet.

Are you a mountain climber? What gear do you use and how do you train?

Leave us a comment below!


All images provided by Jason Black

Where in the world is the ub-cool flag
Where in the World is the ub-cool Flag?

Dear Explorer, The world is your oyster!  You’ve heard that one before, eh? Well, it definitely is our motto at ub-cool. We are conquering the world one country at a time with our flag! The world is truly a small place now that we have the ease of air transport. Long gone are the days of sailing weeks across the rough-gut-wrenching seas, watching your suitcases (or, trunks!) slide across the room and almost squash your legs, just to get from one continent to another. Now, you can do that in 12 hours or less. Where in the World is the ub-cool Flag? Come along with us on our journey as the ub-cool team and friends carry our flag across the globe. We will update this page with new additions from the coolest places on Earth! If you want to be part of the journey, email us for a copy of our flag and then submit your photo and we will add it here! Spread the word and check back to see all the new cool places we have been! Turkey September 2018: Balloons in Cappadocia! Exploring the “fairy chimney” rock formations in Turkey,  brought along the ub-cool flag for the stunning sights! Ukraine August 2018: Cycling through the Carpathian Mountains Cycling enthusiasts, Kate Pakhomov and Fimm, carried the ub-cool flag through Ukraine! South Africa July 2018: Fun at Lion & Safari Park Devan Kupferman and Laura Symmonds watching lion cubs playing with the ub-cool flag! Arctic Circle June 2018: The Ultimate North! The ub-cool flag reached the Arctic Circle in our founder Medina Ilyassova’s backpack! Kenya June 2018: Hiking in Kwale County! Zarian Sohrab hiked with the ub-cool flag to find some spectacular views!   Oman May 2018: Waters around Muscat 10 meters deep in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Muscat, Oman, these passionate freedivers pose with the ub-cool flag! From left to right: Yousuf Al Mukaini, Sele Al Mabsali, and Omar Al Ghailani. Scotland May 2018: Dunottar Castle The ub-cool flag made its way to North East Scotland with our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan! Ireland May 2018: Southern Irish Coast Our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, high above the beautiful cliffs of Ballycotton in County Cork. Nepal April 2018: Mount Everest Base Camp After 7 days of hiking, our Adventure Girl, Heather Duncan, reached Everest Base Camp! Along for the journey was her friend and Jonathan Shubert, ub-cool Explorer and world-record endurance cyclist. Read more about Heather’s journey to Mount Everest Base camp here. Peru April 2018: Machu Picchu The iconic peak of Peru’s famous mountains rise behind ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani. He made the gruelling journey to the peak by the most difficult route… Then he made his way to Vinicuna, the Rainbow Mountain, to handstand in the Andes Mountain range. Georgia April 2018: Caucasus Mountains Enjoying her first visit to the beautiful country of Georgia, Medina Ilyassova returned with memories of paragliding over the stunning scenery, exploring castles, and dining on delicious cuisine. If you’re planning a trip to Georgia, discover awesome Georgia tours here. Hawaii April 2018: Koko Crater After a steep climb ub-cool friend, Anshul Bhatnagar, enjoys the view of a cloudy Honolulu! Kazakhstan  September 2017  ub-cool’s Medina Ilyassova hangs out in the mountains with family and friends. There is nothing better than fresh mountain air! Bulgaria September 2017 ub-cool friend, Hussein Sajwani, making his way through Bulgaria with the our flag in tow! Tanzania May 2017: Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano – “Mountain of God” Perched at the top of this active volcano, seen as the “Mountain of God” by the Maasai community, our ub-cool founder, Medina Ilyassova, waves our flag with exciting at her accomplishment. The climb was intense to say the least. Imagine climbing at an incline of more than 70 degrees! Not to mention, starting earlier in the dark with headlights to avoid roasting under the African sun! Read about Medina’s climb up Ol Doniyo Lengai Volcano here. Last Updated: 21st May 2018 Watch this space for regular updates! Email us for a copy of our flag and we’ll add your submission to this post!

Best Photos
Best Photos of the Web | April 2018

Dear Explorer, We have searched the web looking for the best photos of the web from the month of April 2018 to inspire you to say ‘WOW‘, get outdoors & lead an active life! 10 Best Photos of the Web Here are our Top 10 pics for this month’s photo competition: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | Instagram: @alexgoldman  The mysteries of Hawaii | Instagram: @kelsealoha The iconic Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco | Instagram: @shangerdanger Turkey is now on our bucket list! Oludeniz Beach | Instagram: @buraktuzer The feeling of freedom! Los Glaciaras, Andes | Instagram: @vagabondhearts Everybody stay calm | @jferrara_photo  Travelling in style in Guam, West Pacific | Instagram: @matecasar Serenity at sunset. Inle Lake, Myanmar | Instagram: @vincelimphoto White Sands Monument in New Mexico | Instagram: @everchanginghorizon And happily ever after! | Instagram @nois7 Did you miss the best photos from March’s photo competition? It’s not too late to check them out. Do you want to submit your photos for May’s photo competition? You can email us or tag us on Facebook or Instagram and remember to use the hashtag #ubcoolphotocomp Liked what you read? Subscribe below and receive more great stories right in your Inbox!

Georgia Tours
4 Best Ways to Explore Georgia on Wheels

Dear Explorer, Counting down the days till your vacation but haven’t settled on a destination? Why don’t you set your eyes on Georgia? (The country in Europe, not the State in the United States!). This country has captured the hearts of many with its warm welcoming nature and generous people. It definitely has the ub-cool team completely in love! Some of our team really enjoy adrenaline-filled adventures like paragliding and white-water rafting, which Georgia has so much of to offer! But, others on the team prefer staying close to the ground – in fact, they prefer their feet firmly fixed to Mother Earth! So, we figured some of you – our lovely readers – may also feel the same and want to check out awesome adventures that keep you as close to the ground as possible. Below are a list of Georgia tours we love that allow you to explore this beautiful country from the comfort of a vehicle. Oh, and don’t forget these Georgia tours are also perfect to enjoy with the family! Related: 4 Best Sky-and-Water Adventures in Georgia 4 Best Georgia Tours on Wheels Recently emerging from decades of Soviet rule, Georgia re-opened its doors to the world in 1991. Since then, there has been a massive building project of hotels and resorts not to mention the increase in the number of flights to this small country. The Caucasus mountains are a sight to be seen – they stand tall with snow-capped peaks against gorgeous rolling-green valleys dotted with small towns. If you’re keen to explore the beautiful countryside and views from the hills all the while keeping your feet close to the ground, we have 4 different options for you from quad bikes to NASCAR-style cars! #1 – Experience the Caucasus Mountains and Castles on this Fun Jeep Tour Jump in for this fantastic jeep tour! The local experts will take you through the Dzama gorge, which is hidden between the valleys of the Borjomi forests and Kartli. Georgians consider this a sacred place as you’ll see by the many old-and-new monasteries in the area. You’ll also visit the gorgeous Bateti lake which sits on a mountain plateau surrounded by forest and a beautiful swamp. Whatever season it is when you visit, make sure you bring your camera because the scenic views will blow your mind! Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention the delicious barbeque picnic and red wine tasting you’ll enjoy! Learn more about this Fun Jeep Tour in Georgia > #2 – Explore Georgia on an Amazing Quad Bike Tour Want to explore the rolling green Georgian hills with your friends? Then hop on your very own quad bike and speed away! Imagine spending 2 hours exploring Mitarbi mountain, Bakuriani traditional villages, and rice fields! Then, after lunch, you’ll get the chance to taste the famous Borjomi mineral water in the national park! For those wondering – yes, the quad bike is really easy to handle making for a truly enjoyable journey. And, if you’re looking for fresh air, then this is the trip for you! Learn more about this quad bike tour in Georgia > #3 – An Exciting NASCAR-Style Car Ride in Georgia Do you love watching car races? Well, when in Gerogia, why don’t you give it a try! Strap on your seat belt and take this first-generation NASCAR car, The Legends, down the track for a spin! This modern vehicle is in the retro style fitted with a Yamaha 1300cc, 145 horsepower engine. What does this mean? Yes – You’ll go from 0 to 100km in 4.2 seconds! Fact: before NASCAR, this vehicle was a popular get-away car for the mafia! Learn more about racing NASCAR-style cars in Georgia > #4 – Adrenaline-Packed Off-Roading Drive Through Georgia Calling adrenaline seekers, this rafting trip in Georgia is perfect for you! Hang on tight for an exhilarating rafting trip down fast-moving waters! If you’re new to rafting, learn to raft from local experts and set off on an adventure of a life time. The waters in Georgia’s rivers are ideal for white-water rafting enthusiasts. Do you live for adrenaline-filled adventures? Then this off-roading tour is for you! Race through Georgia’s rugged terrain in the best off-roading vehicle, Polaris RZR. This high-quality AT vehicle will have you perched atop hills in no time! Learn more about off-roading drives in Georgia > Looking for other adventures? Visit ub-cool for more exciting adventures from all around the world! Working with local experts, the ub-cool team seeks out the best adventures for you to try! Liked what you read? Subscribe below to get more adventure tips right in your inbox!

Xia Boyu
Xia Boyu: Double Amputee Summits Mt Everest

Dear Explorer, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again” – this is definitely the case for 69-year-old mountain climber Xia Boyu who successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, this week. Xia Boyu On Monday, the 14th of May, Xia Boyu achieved his goal on his fifth attempt of conquering the iconic mountain spanning over 4 decades of attempts. You’ll be shocked to learn that it is not his mature age of 69 that sets Xia apart from the other 500 climbers attempting Everest this year… but also that he is a double amputee!  Photo Credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images First Attempt Led to Double Amputation Xia, now 69 years old, first tried to scale the 8,848m peak back in 1975. Only a tantalising 200m from the peak of the world, the climbers were heart broken as they were forced to turn back due to high-altitude storms. They were descending in treacherous conditions when Xia, then aged 26, gave up his sleeping bag to a fellow climber who was struggling, according to Chinese media. The severe weather took its toll on him and he discovered the next morning that he had frostbite in his feet, requiring both to be amputated. “It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest which I’ve dreamed of,” he was quoted by the Peoples Daily. Related: Learn how Shaikha Al Shaiba takes on triathlons with only one arm! Time Line of Xia’s Climbing Dream 1975 – At age 26, Xiya made his initial attempt at Mount Everest but suffered frostbitten feet which required amputation. 1996 – Using prosthetic limbs he climbed mountains around Beijing but tragedy struck when he learnt he had contracted lymphoma and would need both legs amputated beneath the knee. 2014 –  Xia was ready to tackle Everest again, but his attempt was not possible due to ice avalanches. 2015 – Having reached Base Camp, his next attempt was delayed due to the disastrous Nepal earthquake of 2015. 2016 –  He attempted the climb again; but, within 100m of the peak, he had to turn back due to poor weather. 2017 – His planned attempt for 2018 was nearly derailed by the Nepal government, which in December banned double amputees and blind people from climbing Everest. It was claimed that it would make the mountain safer. 2018 – The Nepal Supreme Court finally ruled that the ban was discriminatory and it was dropped in March 2018. 2018, May – SUCCESS! Photo Credit: Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters In April 2018, a month before his fifth attempt, Xia told Agence France-Presse that climbing Everest was his dream. “I have to realise it,” he said. “It also represents a personal challenge, a challenge of fate.” On Monday 14th May, Xia finally reached the peak of Mount Everest. “Boyu finally won his 40-year-long battle for Mount Everest,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the managing director at Imagine Treks, who accompanied the Chinese climber, told the Himalayan Times. Other Aamputees who have climbed Everest? Xia is the second double amputee to climb the summit after the New Zealander, Mark Inglis, who reached the peak from the Tibetan side in 2006. Santiago Quintero, who had half of each foot amputated during a climb in south America, also reached the peak in 2013. Congratulations Xia Boyu! Your determination and perseverance are an inspiration to us all! Feature photo: rockandice.com / courtesy of Xia Boyu Do you have a cool story to share with us? Get in touch at adventure@ub-cool.com