When you picture a mountain guide, you probably picture a lot of things. Mostly stereotypes from movies and magazines. But what you probably wouldn’t picture is Jason Antin.
Clean-cut and square-jawed with a powerful build that looks like it was chiseled out of granite, at first glance Jason appears more all-conference linebacker than accomplished alpine adventurer. A guy more likely to advise you on your stock portfolio than a summiting expedition. But spend a few minutes watching him guiding aspiring mountaineers up an ice fall as an instructor for Denver Mountain Guides or coaching them through a grueling workout at the Alpine Training Center, and what you’ll see is passionate mountaineer that is part of a new breed of outdoor athletes redefining how we play in the outdoors.
“I’ve always been an outdoorsy person, but as a football player all the way up through college, I learned about the importance of training” said Jason. “And it’s really helped me, as a guide and coach, stress the importance of being both physically and mentally prepared when you set out to tackle a challenge in the outdoors.”
Jason feels this is especially important today, where he regularly gets hired by people looking to do and see things that were once the exclusive domain of accomplished outdoor experts.
“I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it, but there’s been this change over the last decade or so in the mindset of outdoor lovers,” noted Jason. “It’s not just enough to go for a Saturday hike in the foothills. This new generation wants to see and experience things they see me and my friends doing. Pursuits that require technical and physical abilities that go beyond just throwing on some gear and setting out.”
Jason attributes this new age of exploration to social platforms like Instagram, where outdoor enthusiasts can see places that inspire them and just say “I want to go there.” And he sees it as his job to get them there and back safely.
“The great thing about Jason,” notes Erika Derylo of Merrell. “And why we rely on him to guide our product development is that he really emphasizes the importance of training so you can get to where you want to go.” Whether it’s a multi-day hike that’s a bit outside your comfort zone or something as ambitious as ascending an icefall, his background as a traditional athlete instills the notion that you have to have that discipline and commitment to a training regimen to experience these places. “When it comes to what it means to be an outdoors person,” said Jason. “I don’t think there is a type. If you love getting outside, your as much of an outdoor geek as I am.”