Jimmy Chin fotógrafo escalando


Jimmy Chin: His office in the mountains

Relating photography with sport is creating an explosive combo. Being able to capture the beauty of the mountain as you climb it, or to frame a crashing wave must give you an unimaginable feeling of power. There are many photographers who try to achieve this skill, but not all are successful.

In today's post we introduce you to Jimmy Chin, although you probably already know him, this climber, photographer and lover of life has a very interesting story - and some photographs.

Who is Jimmy Chin?

When we refer to Jimmy Chin we may be talking about one of the best adventure photographers of our time. Passionate about the mountains and cinema, combining both hobbies has led him to win an Oscar for the direction of photography of the documentary "Free solo", in 2019.

In 1996 Jimmy graduated from Carleton University, in Minnesota and moving away from conventionalisms and established routines, he decided to travel the world in search of mountains to climb and ski using his truck as his home for 7 years.

His first contact with sports photography took place in 1999, when, during the descent of El Capitan, in Yosemite, Chin took a photo of his climbing partner with a borrowed camera and sold it to a clothing brand sports for about 450 euros. From that moment on, the career of the photographer-climber began to grow without limits.

In addition to his photographic skills, Jimmy Chin is an excellent climber and skier, and has been doing these disciplines professionally for more than 20 years, always accompanied by his camera and exceptional vision to capture the essence of both sports and the greatness of the mountain.

“You don't realize what a good skier he is because you stick with the art, which is probably what he wants. He climbed Everest to photograph and film a ski descent. I think he skied more than the people he was filming," noted mountain journalist and writer Jon Krakauer said of Chin.

Chin has been a photographer for National Geographic since 2002, and his photos have been on the covers of magazines such as the New York Times Magazine, he has also directed advertising campaigns for well-known brands, among which we highlight Apple, Red Bull or The North Face.

Jimmy currently resides between New York and Wyoming with his wife, who is also dedicated to the film industry as a director and producer, and with her children Marina and James.

What are Jimmy Chin's achievements in climbing?

Jimmy Chin Escalando

In the first decade of the 2000s Chin began to make expeditions very often.

One of the first climber/photographer achievements came when he and his teammates became the first Western athletes allowed to climb India's Kondus Valley.

In 2001, Jimmy carried out two unsuccessful expeditions with his companions and friends Conrad Anker and Brady Robinson, one to a K7 in Pakistan, and the other, alone, to Torre Cerro in Patagonia. The weather conditions made these ascents impossible, but at the end of that year, without giving up, Chin went to Mali and went to the Hand of Fatima, to the summit of Kaga Tondo, one of the climbing meccas, and a sandstone tower. the highest desert on the planet.

In 2003, Chin ventures with his sports team to climb the North Face of Mount Everest, which becomes complicated, bringing him almost to the end of his days; for an avalanche of glaciers breaks off on them. This fact prevents them from continuing the route, but not forever, because the following year Chin reaches the top, a fact that they take advantage of to shoot a film about the catastrophe that occurred in 1996, in which 8 climbers lost their lives at the top of the peak at cause of a severe storm. The film received the name: Everest.

Over the next few years, Chin's career is a series of constant adventures; he becomes a climbing teacher, returns to Mount Everest to ski down it and thus become the first person to do so. In 2007, he returned for the third consecutive time to this mountain, which became almost his second home, to shoot the movie “The Wildest Dream”.

Among his most regular teammates we find iconic climbing figures such as Conrad Anker or Alex Honnold, with whom he experienced extreme situations; in 2009 they ventured together into the Ennedi desert in Chad, where they were robbed without any protection by a group of looters.

We highlight, on the other hand, his ascent in 2011 to Shark's Fin, located more than 6 thousand meters high, on Mount Meru, in one of the most complicated ascents in the world. In 2017 Chin made his first ascent to Antarctica and climbed the Ulvetanna peak, located in Queen Maud Land.

What are Jimmy Chin's photographic achievements?

Logros fotográficos de Jimmy Chin

Chin is putting together a pretty heavy track record. He currently has an Oscar Award, seven Emmy's and a BAFTA. Jimmy dedicated himself exclusively to capturing still images until, in 2002, he stepped out of his comfort zone when National Geographic commissioned him to be the camera director on the filming of a documentary about an expedition to Tibet. Chin hadn't used a video camera before, but from then on, he didn't let it get away anymore; Well, the following year he decided to shoot the movie Everest, in 2007 he directed Wildest Dreams, in 2015, together with his wife, he directed and produced Meru, and in 2018, the documentary that has had the most impact on his career came to light: Free Solo

What projects has Jimmy Chin done for National Geographic?

Chin joined the National Geographic team as a photographer in 2002, which favored him to continue carrying out expeditions, routes and ascents while taking photos and filming his adventures, to later see himself reflected on the covers and pages of the magazine from National Geographic.

Jimmy has made, by the hand of N.G. an expedition to the Changtang Nature Reserve in Tibet, a feature film in Yosemite about the climbing culture in that symbolic place. In 2012, also on assignment from the group, the photographer spent several weeks in the Musadam Peninsula in search of inhospitable walls and cliffs.

On the other hand, the photographer has captured incredible images of the climbers who made the first ascents of one of the highest peaks in Asia, the Karakoram. It has also left a visual record as a gift to the world of the first skiers who ventured down the Himalayas skiing.

The Wildest Dream

The film The Wildest Dream tells the story of the famous mountaineer and climber Conrad Anker who discovered in 1999 the body of Gregory Mallory, a climber who lost his life trying to ascend Everest in 1924. His sudden disappearance remains today the biggest enigma in mountaineering, as Mallory was seen that same morning 250 meters from the summit. It is not known if, when his trail was lost, the climber was still ascending to the top of the mountain or if, on the contrary, he was already descending from the top. Investigators say the position her body was in indicates that Mallory was returning from the peak; so then, the first ascent to the highest point on the planet would actually date 29 years before the official one, made by Edmund Hillary and Norgay Tenzing in 1953.


In this feature film, Chin is the director, cameraman, and lead along with Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk. It narrates the first ascent of the Shark's Fin to the peak of Meru. The interesting thing about this ascent is that it had been prohibited since 1986, and finally, in 2011, Jimmy and his companions were given permission to go on the adventure. From the time they reached the summit until the film was released on the big screen in independent cinema, more than three years passed.

The film, in addition to having spectacular visual quality and leaving a mark on everyone's retina, delves into values ​​such as love, friendship and the passion for living of these three mountaineers. Co-directing the feature film was Chai Vasarhelyi, who contextualized the plot and gave the story a voice.

Meru - Producción Jimmy Chin

Free Solo

This documentary directed and produced by Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi, tells the story of how Alex Honnold, a climber who climbs alone, without partners or support, or harness, who simply uses his hands and feet to tie himself to the mountain, and his mind to keep calm, climbed the most famous rock wall of all time: El Capitan, in Yosemite.

This feature film not only talks about one of the sporting achievements in history, because, although the whole plot revolves around ascension, the film raises some arguments such as the duality between perfection or death, selfishness , can, in the face of such direct exposure to risk of a person who has loved ones and people who care about him, or the almost absolute and irrational lack of fear.

Photography is one of the -very- strong points of the feature film, as we constantly find swooping shots of Alex in the middle of the immensity of the wall, at dizzying heights and subject to nothing. The capture of the landscape and the environment perfectly transmit a sensation of adrenaline, fear and, in a certain way, envy, seeing Honnold in a wonderful, peaceful place that no one -or almost no one- will be able to know in the same way. that he.

Documental Free Solo - Jimmy Chin

We hope that reading about Jimmy Chin has motivated you to want to get to know him more, as he is a photographer well worth following. And you know, it's never too late to start climbing, or to take photos, or to do both!