A childhood on the flatlands of the Midwest is hardly the best preparation for a world-class mountaineer and adventure photographer. "I was 12 when I had my first epiphany about the mountains,” Jimmy Chin recalls. “I went on a family vacation to Glacier National Park. The beauty of the West and the mountains of Glacier National Park really blew my mind. I was changed forever.”
Photography came later and could be described as a fortunate accident. During a climbing trip to Yosemite, where he was training for an upcoming expedition to Pakistan, Chin took a photo with a friend's camera of El Capitan. His friend submitted some photos of the climb to an outdoor clothing company and the photo editor bought one image: the photo Chin had taken. Encouraged by the sale of his first photo, Chin bought his own camera and hasn't looked back.
His dramatic photography in extreme mountain environments has been published in magazines such as National Geographic, Outside, and Men's Journal, and Patagonia. His photography has also won many awards, including from the American Society of Magazine Editors. A longtime member of The North Face athlete team, he has joined dozens of exploratory expeditions and completed several first ascents around the globe.
As an adventure photographer, one of the great challenges is trying to be creative under fairly stressful conditions.
His work for National Geographic includes an unsupported trek across 300 miles of the largely unexplored 17,000-foot-high Changtang Plateau in Tibet. In 2006, Chin was a part of the first American ski descent of Mount Everest. In 2011, he and his climbing partners achieved the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in the Garwhal Himalayas. He helped produce a highly acclaimed documentary film about this experience, which won multiple awards, including the Audience Award at Sundance in 2015.
When not scrambling up mountains, Jimmy divides his time between New York City and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with his wife, filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi, their daughter, Marina, and son, James.
Find out about upcoming programs and expeditions with National Geographic photographers, view more work, or purchase a print by Jimmy Chin.