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Embracing Life’s Known Unknowns: Celebrating Landon Bassett 1981-2018

Last month, the mountain community, heck the world, lost a great man. I think if he read this he would be mad at me for speaking in such hyperbole, but fuck it, I mean it. Landon Bassett died Saturday June 9th after a five-month battle with adrenal cancer. He wasn’t a professional skier, but had the talent to be one. He wasn’t behind the lens, but was the visionary producer behind the content you watch. He was a son, a partner, a friend: a great, great person.

Clayton Boyd photo.

Landon entered the outdoor industry after graduating from the University of Utah. He worked for Red Bull, Factory Labs, and at The North Face for the past eight years, most recently as the Creative Director of Content. Landon produced pieces including Imagination, Honey Hunters, Tsirku as well as countless commercials and ad campaigns.

He was a man who worked in a corporate office, but loved surfing. He was a man that frothed over powder, but happily spent his nights with a nose buried in a history book. He was a man who could challenge you on your morals, but would be the first to crack a beer with you. He lived confidently in these dualities. Confidently himself.

Climber, mountaineer, and friend Renan Ozturk put together this look at Landon's favorite moments.   

But beyond his work, beyond his titles, it was his interactions with others that left a lasting mark. Landon stirred the pot. He was opinionated, with the intelligence and conviction to back up his claims. One could call him a contrarian, but saying only that would be a miss. More accurately, Landon was curious. He looked at social constructs and then deconstructed them, sometimes, I think, just for fun.

Landon would always be the first to argue with you, but he did it in a way that left his challenger not feeling ashamed or belittled by his rebuttals, but rather inspired to question deeper. He challenged everyone around him to question themselves, question the world, question cultural constructs...all with an underlying sense of empathy and love. He wasn’t arguing to argue, it was to push people to think more about their lives, about their choices. Every choice Landon made, from his job down to his shirt, was calculated. His choices reflected his style, they reflected his values. He curated every aspect of his life with intention.

Landon questioned it all, but the one thing he was resolute on was love. Particularly his love for his partner Lindsay Kennedy. It was in his own way of course, but it was pure love. I was lucky enough to spend a day with him close to the end of his life. The image that I keep replaying in my mind is him randomly reaching out to Lindsay as she walked by. You could see how just her touch brought him relief from the pain and fear that comes with knowing your life will be short. She was the light in his darkness.

Landon in his happy place. The North Face photo.

Someone like Landon losing his life seems unfair. He was young, active, smart...all of the things people aspire to be. It is easy to go into the darkness when thinking about his passing. And the only way I’ve figured to negotiate the darkness, is to continue to examine all of the “known unknowns” of life. The light and the shadows. The grief and the joy. All of it, all of life under examination.

"Life is hard and unfair and no one is above getting sick, so you just figure out how to move forward each day and fit maximum pleasure into your life regardless of what your cells decide to do to you. I don't play the 'I wish' game, about anything. Control what you can control and let go of everything else," Landon said in January 2018. 

There will be a memorial weekend planned for July 14th at Chanslor Ranch in Bodega Bay, California, celebrating his love for the ocean and all things outdoors. The event is open to anyone who wishes to celebrate, please RSVP as soon as possible here: Celebrate Landon Bassett

Landon’s perspective on what was best for a film or a campaign was unwavering and focused. He knew what we needed from our directors and films to inspire a lifestyle of exploration and a vibrant pursuit of life. He spoke with a eloquence about these tenants because he knew them first hand in his own unwavering and focused pursuit of as he called them known unknowns in his own life.

-Brandon Baker, Senior Producer, The North Face

“He was an ideas man, cultivating and promoting a working environment that favored ideation over the corporate hierarchy. He had a unique ability to see things at a cruising altitude and approached problems as such. He taught me how to think; to use intellect as an asset, philosophy as a filter, and emotion as a driver. Landon was not just a manager to me, he was a mentor, a brother, and a friend,” 

-Rob Wassmer, Content Coordinator, The North Face

Hard to find words to do justice to the life of one of the most brilliant humans I've ever known. He lost his battle with a rare and aggressive cancer this past Saturday after 6 months of fighting, but those 6 months were spent much like the 37 years he spent on this earth: living fully and without regret, philosophizing passionately about life, death, and what makes us all tick, and being with the people he loved. Landon made us all think harder, ask deeper questions, and live more intentionally. He had zero qualms about living a life where play came first and work served as a means to have more fun. He was fascinated by the human experience and loved conversing about culture, religion, sexuality, art, music, and - of course - he dressed impeccably. He was never shy about offering his opinion and philosophy on what it meant to live an honest life. Above all, Landon was an amazing friend who will be missed and loved forever. Thank you Landon for you wisdom, your friendship, and your inspiration up until the final moments of your life. Rock on, friend.

-Emily Harrington, Professional Rock Climber

Special thanks to the TGR team for your love and support of Landon and Lindsay over the years. He truly loved working with you all and the awesome ski trips to Jackson Hole and other back country destinations. Your article was very well done and really captured the essence and vibrancy of his life.
Love and respect to you all.
Bill Bassett

I only had the pleasure of working with Landon here at The North Face for a few months, but hoooo boy did he make an impact on me in that short time. He was fired up. About what, you wonder? Everything. The things—probably like 2, total—Landon didn’t have interest in would be much, much easier to list. I appreciated him coming to me after one meeting saying, “Hey, you didn’t say much in there with all those people around, but I can tell you have a lot to contribute. I see your brain going. Would it be easier for you and I to just sit down together to chat?” I appreciated that so much. I appreciated he acknowledged me. He was looking around the room, looking at the people who weren’t shouting out their thoughts. He was interested in the quieter ones. He was interested in *everyone*. Landon gave life nothing but 100%. His spirit—fearless, honest, kind, open, thoughtful, impassioned, colorful, dynamic, raw, real—is one I can only hope to embody a fraction of. Thanks for this beautiful tribute, Hadley.

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