"Trust the cosmos, but tie your camel."
My Perfect Adventure
Jimmy Chin strongly considered becoming a Shaolin monk. Until he decided that that whole abstinence thing would be too much to handle. Kung fu’s loss was mountaineering’s gain, and now the world’s best climbers call on Chin to join and document their historic expeditions.
The professional climber, skier, photographer, and filmmaker has conquered Everest three times and was the first American to complete a ski descent from its peak. He has first ascents in India’s Garwhal Himalayas, in Pakistan’s Karakorams, and on Mount Meru’s Shark's Fin, plus more than a dozen one-day El Cap summits—carrying his cameras all the while. He directs and shoots for his film company, Camp 4 Collective, which contributes to memorable productions like Samsara and National Geographic documentaries.
The Minnesota native (he lives in Idaho now) is, with other famous climbers like Conrad Anker and Kit DesLauriers, on the North Face athlete team and is also a Zozi guru, which means that occasionally, you can pay the adventure-travel site to let you join a Chin-led outing.
In this interview, he says that the Tetons are his idea of heaven (even though he narrowly escaped getting buried by a Class IV avalanche there), that his travel priorities include setting up a tent—or, better yet, getting lost—and that it was his mom who instilled his devotion to excellence.
Describe your perfect day, from dawn 'til dusk.
Wake up before dawn and head out with an old friend into the Tetons. Skin up Garnett Canyon toward the Grand and watch the sun rise above the Teepee Glacier. Climb the Stettner and Chevy couloirs. Kick steps up the Ford Couloirs to the summit. Step into bindings and ski steep pow back down.
If you could travel somewhere you've never been, where would you go?
I would love to go ski mountaineering on the Antarctic Peninsula. I've had several expeditions planned to Antarctica but scheduling conflicts have kept me from ever making it to my seventh and final continent. Ski mountaineering would be an amazing way to explore the area.
Where is the best place you've ever visited?
When I first visited the Tetons, I was blown away. The mountains and the valleys there are stunning in every season. The skiing in winter is phenomenal—what I consider to be the best in the lower 48—and the summers are beautiful, with wildflowers in alpine meadows and pristine rivers and lakes. There’s world-class climbing, skiing, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and more. If you like being outside, it's a tough place to beat.
If you could have lunch with any adventurer, who would it be and why?
George Mallory, just to hear whether they made it to the top of Everest. Or [climber, filmmaker, writer, and Patagonia VP] Rick Ridgeway. He’s an old friend and mentor, and it's been a long time since we've caught up.