by Aidan Haley ’01
I’ve never known what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. In the 3rd grade it was a paleontologist. In the 5th grade a marine biologist. In the 7th grade, a professional basketball player. Along with my other passions in life, I have always loved to climb. That all started with my first climbing experience up Mt Adams with my mom and Sandy Smith, my Middle School science teacher from Annie Wright.
I went on to study International Political Economics at Colorado College because politics were interesting and it seemed like a useful degree in the real world. After graduation, however, I wasn’t ready to enter this so called “real world,” and so I decided to pursue photography. I always loved to travel and take pictures of my adventures, and I wanted to find an opportunity, if it existed, to meld my passions together into a real career.
I am a fluent French speaker, having lived in France for several years as I child. So, with no other leads the summer after college, it made sense to move to France. There I was fortunate to land a job with a photojournalism agency. I went on to Los Angeles to work in the film industry and was hired as a director’s assistant at the large production company Anonymous Content. After three and half years of working in LA, however, I realized that I wanted to surround myself with people who had similar values about living a more simple, outdoorsy lifestyle, so when an opportunity arose to move back home to the Pacific Northwest, I took it.
A chance to continue my creative career at a small energetic outdoor media company called Duct Tape Then Beer sounded like my dream job, and it has turned out to be exactly that. We are four creative types with diverse backgrounds in storytelling who specialize in producing digital content for outdoor-centric brands. As a director and editor, I now get the opportunity to work directly with clients like Patagonia, Arc’Teryx, National Geographic and more. It is amazing to realize my journey brought me to this point of melding my passion for the outdoors, climbing and skiing, with my passion for visual storytelling.
Force, the film I most recently co-directed and edited, centers around world class climber and Patagonia ambassador Mikey Schaefer. I am really proud of it because it’s not like other action adventure films. The film is about his time in the mountains of Patagonia and is put together from crowd sourced footage from a dozen different climbers. We are now in the midst of a grass roots tour across the country that raises money for nonprofits and shares Mikey’s story and passion for the Patagonia region. The peaks of Patagonia aren’t the biggest in the world, but they are incredibly technical. Climbers have to contend with the worst weather in the world. In our lives, on our own journeys, we should always be asking ourselves the same questions Mikey does. Are we going to follow our passion? Are we going to give it a try?