I’ve known Jimmy Chin since he was a Camp 4 dirtbag spending his time climbing big walls in Yosemite. When you a meet a guy who’s usually either eating ramen noodles or pounding copperheads into A5 seams, you don’t necessarily think that one day they’ll become one of the most successful and famous people you’ve ever met.
But there he is, an Oscar-winning director, renowned National Geographic photographer, professional athlete, and the author of an awesome new book: ”There and Back: Photographs from the Edge.”
I recently saw Jimmy at Alex Honnold and Sanni McCandless’s wedding ceremony. As you might imagine, there were many big-name climbers in attendance, including a few of Jimmy and Alex’s teammates on a recent North Face expedition to Antarctica. Pablo Durana, who is my neighbor and friend here in South Lake Tahoe, took this iconic photograph during that expedition, and he brought a few prints to get Jimmy, Alex, Conrad Anker, and Cedar Wright to sign it for charity.
As Jimmy added his John Hancock to Pablo’s print, he looked up at me and said, “Dude I’m so sick of signing my name. I just signed thousands of copies of my new book for Nat Geo.” He rubbed his forearm like he was pumped from a climb.
“I can’t wait to see it!” I said, laughing.
Months later, a copy has finally arrived and of course the book is just as fantastic as I knew it would be. The pages are filled with some of the most important and inspiring moments in climbing, from Alex Honnold’s free solos of Half Dome and El Capitan, to adventures across southeast Asia, to the icy continent of Antarctica. And despite being sick of signing his name, he was gracious enough to do it once more for me, which I very much appreciated!
Despite all of his success, what’s so great about Jimmy is that he’s retained his humility. After all these years, he’s still the same humble dirtbag climber from Camp 4, the guy who loves climbing and telling stories with his camera. Come to think of it, that’s probably a big reason why he’s so successful.
There and Back: Photography from the Edge
“There and Back” is published by Penguin Random House. Check out their site to order your copy!