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The Gearzette
4X4: 16 Questions with Connor Koch

4X4: 16 Questions with Connor Koch

- May 06, 2021

Connor Koch bucked convention. He made, what could be considered, a difficult choice and turned a cold shoulder to the mundane and dedicated his life to adventure. And challenge. After climbing all fifty-eight 14,000-ft peaks in Colorado he turned his attention to new climbing endeavors, to new personal pursuits, and to Finding his Anywhere.

Best thing you’ve seen while climbing?

I’ve achieved so many of my climbing dreams, and of course have more than I will ever be able to achieve, but my personal climbing has never been the highlight for me. It’s been such an honor to help people stand on their own summits, people like my friend Nerissa Cannon, who decided she was going to climb a Colorado 14er – in her wheelchair! After hours of pushing, pulling, lifting, and rolling over rock, mud, and snow, she pulled it off. We shared a moment on top of Mt. Bierstadt, pure connection and compassion and heart. Moments like that, you simply can’t forget.

What is one of your favorite styles of climbing and why?

Multipitch climbing, especially in the high alpine. There’s nothing that compares to the commitment and uncertainty of getting high off the ground, above retreat, relying on your skills and your partner. I think it’s important to try to find the edge in life, never going off it, but coming as close as you can, away from comfort and false control. Climbing in the alpine is that vehicle for me.

Any upcoming routes you are working towards?

My focus for 2021 will continue to be big traverses and linkups. Fortunately, my home range of the Sierra hosts some of the finest and most sustained ridgelines in the world! This summer, I’ll be working on some passion projects in the alpine, with a focus on the soul of the experience over any number or metric.

Why do you climb?

The coolest thing about climbing is that it takes me to picture-perfect ranges, hidden backroads, dusty towns, and forgotten areas – all places that never would have appeared on my radar without a climbing objective. I love seeing the entirety of what the world has to offer, and climbing objectives cross political spectrums, cultures, borders, and personal differences. It’s such a joy and a privilege. Equally important are my partners in the mountains. I’ve climbed most of my big objectives with a core group of partners, none more than my friend Jonny Morsicato. We’ve stood on the summit of every 14,000-ft. peak in Colorado together, and you just can’t buy that type of love.

How did you get into climbing?

I moved to Colorado in 2015 to work for Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind climber to summit Everest. I had been a runner and wrestler in the past, but I dove head first into the climbing scene under Erik’s encouragement, receiving mentorship from pro and elite climbers right off the bat. My climbing days started with a series of ridiculous blunders, from leaving gear on the face of Boulder’s First Flatiron, to a less humorous and nearly fatal mistake in Yosemite. These are things you learn and grow from if you’re lucky, all part of the beauty and pain that mountains have to offer. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like I had much choice but to become a climber – when I’m off the ground, my heart sings, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to listen.

Sum up your life philosophies in 3/5 words.

Be: Kind. Hardworking. Bold. Open.

Who is your role model?

I’ve been fortunate to have stellar mentors across all phases of my life, helping me find the path in times of success and pain. But the people I look up to most all have one thing in common – every single day, even when it doesn’t make sense, when it hurts to even think about, they wake up and bring their best selves to the world. All the people out there who make the difficult choice to shine their light as brightly as possible, day after day, in a world that doesn’t always make sense – those are my role models. I hope you know them, too.

You’re going on a road trip – what three people do you bring, dead or alive?

Sometimes a plan can derail the experience. If I’m on the right road, I’ll meet the folks I’m supposed to along the way.

Who’s on your road trip playlist?

African beats, funk, and a whole lot of podcasts - Rich Roll, Brene Brown, and “On Being” are some favorites.

How has Front Runner gear changed how you road trip and camp?

I no longer have stress about having the “right” gear, or my setup letting me down. With my truck being so dialed, I’m totally ready to rock at any time, from kitchen to camping, and I can focus on the adventure and the climb.longer have stress about having the “right” gear, or my setup letting me down. With my truck being so dialed, I’m totally ready to rock at any time, from kitchen to camping, and I can focus on the adventure and the climb.

What’s your most invaluable piece of Front Runner gear?

The Pro Camp Table is such a fantastic piece to slide out at camp, on the roadside, in parking lots - anywhere you need to throw down a meal. And it gets bonus points for being hidden, allowing you to bust out a magic trick and impress your crew every time.

What’s highest on your Front Runner wish list?

The Pro Bike Carrier is calling my name for summer bike-to-climb adventures.

Any advice for road trip newbs based on your past journeys?

If you are questioning whether or not you should fill up the gas tank, do…. Not getting stranded is great, as is the freedom to explore that enticing side road.

What are you most grateful for?

Morning sun. Strong coffee. The opportunity to try again tomorrow.

Favorite part of exploring the Eastern Sierra?

The peace that enfolds you as you ascend thousands of feet from the sagebrush to the summit. Whether in Eastern Sierra, or the foothills of an unnamed range, I am home, exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Next on your trip list?

Pending recovery from a hip injury, I will be heading to the Pacific Northwest to climb and ski some volcanoes, including Rainier. I’m also working to bring diversity and breadth of storytelling into the outdoors through my media agency, The Coyote Collective. There’s so many mountains to climb.