Nathan Hadley


Climber, Routesetter, & Photographer

I was introduced to climbing at age seven in Indiana through competitive youth climbing. With some success at the national and international level, I was burnt out by the end of high school, and practically gave up climbing going into college. Climbing needed to be remade in my life. It took me several years to figure that out.

After graduating from undergrad in Chicago, I moved back to my hometown of Indianapolis, started routesetting, and making regular trips to the Red River Gorge again. I was getting back in shape, enjoying the community again, and loving the time spent in the forested hills of Kentucky. But climbing was too similar to what it had been, and I felt pressure to try to make something of my life outside of climbing. The craft of routesetting was new and exciting, but it was still just an entertaining way to earn a paycheck. It seemed that there was no future in it.

My partner Liz and I moved to Denver in 2014 and I continued to routeset at Movement Climbing & Fitness while looking for jobs in ecology, my line of study. I never got a job and it was during this time that I began focusing on developing my photography as a secondary stream of income.

I found a significant and needed shift when I moved to Seattle, Washington, in 2015. The first year in Seattle was one of the hardest years of my life, but through it, I found the path that I am on today. The wildness of the Cascade Range became the perfect canvas for me to pursue creative expression in the mountains, through climbing and photography. I also found Seattle to be an epicenter for the growth of the craft of route setting, and feel lucky to have fallen into routesetting at the Seattle Bouldering Project, one of the premier bouldering gyms in the world. I now routeset at multiple competitions a year and consult with new gyms on their routesetting programs.

Climbing has enabled me to live a free and inspired life. I aspire to be a well-rounded climber, pushing my climbing in both directions—from bouldering to alpine climbing—but I know I will always love the free movement over rock the most. I am now a national athlete for Rab and CAMP, and continue to push my personal limits in climbing in between my routesetting and photography work.

I am a contributor to the stock agency, Tandem Stills + Motion, one of the leading image providers in genres of nature, travel, culture, adventure, and active lifestyle. Click here to view my page on their site.

I am supported by Rab, CAMP, and Scarpa.

Notable Climbs


  • Dark Side of Liberty (5.13d, 11 pitches), Liberty Bell, Washington Pass, WA

  • The Path (5.14a R, trad), Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies — in-a-day

  • Blue Jeans Direct (5.14a, 7 pitches), Mt. Yamnuska, Canadian Rockies

  • The Shining Uncut (5.14a, 9 pitches), Mt. Louis, Canadian Rockies

  • Castles in the Sky (5.14a, 5 pitches), Castle Mountain, Canadian Rockies

  • En Passant aka Ten Percent Direct (5.14), Index, WA — FFA of Index’s first 5.14

  • Scarface (5.14a), Smith Rock, OR

  • Freedom is a Battle (5.13c), Geyikbayiri, Turkey — onsight

  • Sarkit Souls (5.13b), Geyikbayiri, Turkey — onsight

  • Primate (5.13b), Flatirons, CO — onsight

  • Semifinalist (17th) at US Lead Nationals


  • Pilar Rojo (5.12a, 600m), Mermoz, Patagonia

  • Dr. Evil (5.14a), Little Si, WA

  • Lost Horizons (5.14b), Little Si, WA

  • Divine Punishment (5.13b), Red River Gorge, KY — onsight

  • Hagakure (V12), Index, WA

  • All of the Above (V12), Index, WA — in-a-day


  • Live Free or Die! (5.12d, 300m), Liberty Bell, Washington Pass, WA — FA

  • Liberty Crack (5.13b, 400m), Liberty Bell, Washington Pass, WA — 5th free ascent

  • Westie Face (5.13a, 300m), Leaning Tower, Yosemite, CA — in-a-day

  • Final Frontier (5.13b, 300m), Fifi Buttress, Yosemite, CA

  • Eye of the Tiger (5.12d, 300m), Supercave Wall, Washington Pass, WA — onsight

  • Badman (5.14a), Smith Rock, OR

  • Pornification (5.14a), Little Si, WA

  • Aggro Monkey (5.13b), Smith Rock, OR — onsight

  • TPMV (5.13a trad), Index, WA — onsight


  • West Buttress (AK Grade 2, 50°, 4000m), Denali, AK

  • Amandla (5.13d), Index, WA


  • 16 Youth National Championships

    • Three 1st place finishes

    • Twelve U.S. Team qualifications (top-4 finishers)

    • Recipient of the North Face Young Gun Award

  • 5 Youth World Championships

    • One top-5 finish and four top-20 finishes