Today we’d like to introduce you to Connor Koch.
Hi Connor, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Mountains have defined my entire adult life, but I didn’t start my journey knowing that would be the case. I moved to Colorado in 2015 on a whim. I’d never been to the state, never seen snow, but I accepted a job with Erik Weihenmayer, best known as the first blind man to climb Everest and the 7 Summits. Many, many mountains later, including all 58 Colorado 14ers, I begged the team at Arc’teryx to give some jackets and a little travel budget to myself and my best friend Jonny Morsicato. We spent a month in the deserts of the American West, climbing and exploring our hearts out, and returned with the stories that kicked off our athletic and creative careers. From the summits of hundreds of high peaks, we’ve never looked back.
In 2020, along with our friend and photographer Colin Rex, we started Coyote, a boutique media agency with the goal of redefining storytelling in the outdoors. Colin quit his job to film a project we were working on in California’s Sierra Nevada, a piece that ultimately became a 35-minute film and launched a festival tour and new client relationships. We’ve had the good fortune of landing some dream clients right off the bat, including Arc’teryx, POC Sports, ENVE Composites, Sea To Summit, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more. One of our first commercial-length pieces, produced for local shop Planet Cyclery, has received over 250K views on Youtube, and I’ll never not be humbled by that. The future of Coyote continues to morph as we figure out the model and how to best effect our mission, but the goal remains the same: make something different and better, something with heart.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
After climbing the Colorado 14ers, I started looking for new challenges and began to hone the balance between climbing and running, riding the line between speed and safety. That’s become my signature style in the mountains, and we apply it to our work at Coyote, too. We’ve had some major missteps, learning on the fly how to manage large client expectations while always focusing on overdelivering and completely wowing anyone who comes across our work. To be cliché, I think obstacles really are the way. We’ve learned from each setback and used them to grow into a better, more complete, more empathetic group of friends, creatives, and athletes. If we wanted easy, we picked the wrong line of work.
In fact, our first big project was a complete bust. With over a year of training and scouting in the bank, cash from sponsors in hand, and a lot of media hype surrounding the trip, we attempted a Fastest Known Time on California’s 15 14ers. It was a total disaster. For 5 days, we battled historic wildfires, record temperatures, dangerous storms, and semi-trucks flying by 3 feet to our sides, and we ultimately pulled the plug ~400 miles in. But wow did we learn from this failure. Our pre-planned film debut took a hard turn into reflective territory, and we managed to salvage a story from the literal ashes of the trip. A year later, we premiered the film in front of friends, family, and a huge crowd of new folks in Asheville, NC, and rode up the Blue Ridge Parkway debuting the film.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’ll start with my work in the mountains. I’m a mountain runner and climber, and most of my creative output is fueled by fast and light pursuits in the alpine. Over the years, that has largely trended toward ultimate freedom: covering the most terrain in the most organic way, scrambling and climbing and running with the goal of coming as close to the line as possible without crossing it. This has led me to all the great ranges of the lower 48, and I’ve stood above 12,000 feet over 500 times, often with friends, loved ones, and folks from all walks of life – I climbed a 14er with my friend Nerissa Cannon, who summited in her wheelchair. Through all of this, I am so grateful for the support of Arc’teryx Colorado, COROS Global, Ridge Merino, Moment Skis, CAMP USA, and many, many more clients and friends who believe in what I am doing, and most importantly why I’m doing it.
Coyote takes all of the experiences and energy from the mountains and allows me to channel them in ways I could not alone. It is one of the great blessings of my life to work with my best friends. Jonny Morsicato, with whom I climbed the Colorado 14ers, manages the finances and logistics of Coyote as CFO and makes every trip possible with careful and precise planning. Colin Rex, Creative Director, has shot 90% of the images in our campaigns and directed the other 10% with his unique eye for beauty framed perfectly. As Art Director, Christian Van Os Keuls is responsible for the look and feel of the brand and our deliverables, from popups at Dick’s Sporting Goods to editorial layouts for bike industry clients. Each of us has spent years honing our craft, and the combined force of our talents and motivations is something special; beyond the product photos and writing and video work, I believe our contributions to storytelling stand out for their authenticity. Everything we do, we do with our entire hearts.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Curiosity. I’m endlessly (sometimes detrimentally) curious about what the world has to offer, about the core of the human experience and how our relationship with nature enhances a life lived in the pursuit of wholeness. There’s so much to learn, so little time, so many summits I’ll never reach – but that’s ok. I’m finding out why I’m here. What a ride.
- Website: www.thecoyotecollective.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/conkoch
- Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/thecoyotecollective
Colin Rex Mitchell Quiring Justin Diamond