Jimmy Chin is one of the most recognizable names in mountaineering today. He is known all over the world as a daring climber. However, his passion for the sport doesn’t end there. Rather, he has found a new footing to showcase his talents and spread his passion with others. This platform is through Instagram photography and commissioned documentaries.

So if you want to learn more about blending travel photography and climbing, then read on. Because Jimmy Chin is the newest face of both.

Early Life

Jimmy Chin was born in 1973 to Chinese parents in America. His parents’ lived as immigrants and lived a rather simple life. Chin mentioned his parents to be strict taskmasters. Furthermore, they placed a lot of emphasis on education. In fact, they would go to great lengths to ensure a good education for Chin and his sister. The family’s dream was for him to become a prestigious doctor or lawyer.

Initially, Chin went along with this and went to a top college and excelled in academics. However, he became disillusioned with his life when he was 20. After he finished college he didn’t pursue a career like his parents wanted him to. Instead, he moved out into his car and started mountaineering and screaming. This disappointed his parents and he didn’t talk to them for 2 years after that.

The beauty of the mountains which first inspired Jimmy Chin.
Source: jimmychin.com

According to Chin, mountains provided a solution to the existential crisis he was facing as a young adult. He struggled with guilt and sadness at disappointing his parents. However, as he honed his skills he soon grew accustomed to his unconventional life. This also inspired him to push the limits of mountaineering and make a career out of it. This would eventually lead to his historic climbs and award-winning documentaries.

Jimmy Chin Becomes The Mountain Man

It was in 1999 that Jimmy Chin started his mountaineering career. This was when he began it has a professional activity. Many people soon took note of his talents and within 2 years he got a sponsorship from The North Face. It was through this that he began to explore some of the hardest peaks in the world. He performed many ascents of various mountains in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan.

Jimmy Chin's shot of a snowy peak
Source: jimmychin.com

This was only a stepping stone to many more such offers. The next year, in 2002, he was approached by National Geographic. This would begin a new direction in his career and bring him closer to photography and film making. This also took him on many monumental expeditions. The first such one was across the Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet. The expedition earned international fame and was in the 2003 April issue of National Geographic magazine.

After climbing in Pakistan and Tibet he decided to climb the Himalayas. In 2003, for instance, he attempted to climb Everest without oxygen support. However, this attempt was a failure. In fact, he just escaped death by a drastic avalanche. This did not deter him, however, and he went back the year after that. He returned with Ed Viesturs and the completed the climb. This was a historic occasion for Ed since with this he climbed all 8000m peaks without oxygen support. This fame was cemented by Jimmy Chin’s photographs which appeared next year.

Skiing Down Summits and Film Success

After 2005, a new phase in Jimmy Chin’s career began. This involved not just mountaineering but also skiing. He was passionate about both during his college years but had only concentrated professionally on the former. From here on, he would involve both in his career. In 2006, for instance, he skied down the summit of Mt. Everest. This made him part of the first American team to do so. Furthermore, Chin and his team were the only ones to have successfully completed the South Pillar Route.

Source: jimmychin.com

At the same time, he also began working more intensively with his film-making career. In 2010, for instance, he was the chief cinematographer of the film 180 Degrees South. He thus transitioned from travel photography to larger budget films. This also led to him intensifying his cinematography. Thus, in the same year, he co-founded the production company Camp 4 Collective.

Through this company, Jimmy Chin went on to do a number of famous ad campaigns. This utilized his nature and travel photography for marketing purposes. This allowed him to reach a much wider audience. He did many campaigns for The North Face, the company which had given him his big break. Apart from this, he provided images for many high-profile companies such as Apple.

However, the greatest success was his film Meru, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film documented his attempts to climb Shark’s Fin in the Himalayas. It was an instant critical success and won many important awards. It was even nominated for an Oscar. With this movie, Jimmy Chin also became the first person to complete a successful ascent of Shark’s Fin.

Current Adventures

With Meru, Chin had cemented his legacy. He now has a number of first ski descents to his name. Furthermore, his photography skills have earned him a number of awards and nominations. These include an Oscar nomination and a prestigious award by Microsoft.

Chin now continues to hone his craft and pursue mountaineering and skiing. He also organizes and leads a number of exploratory expeditions in the Himalayas. He has also done a number of projects for various brands. In particular, he still does campaigns for The North Face. His photography skills have earned him 1.7 million Instagram followers. This is a testament to how he managed to pursue his passion in the face of initial adversity and has spread it to a mass audience.