CNN  — 

Having survived an avalanche and been tested in some of the most remote places on earth, Jimmy Chin knows what it’s like to be at the mercy of mother nature.

The renowned adventurer and filmmaker has spent the past 20 years traveling the world, pushing himself to conquer one historic challenge after another, and engaging in the sort of daring activities that would be beyond many people’s imaginations.

Whether it’s climbing Everest or filming the Oscar-winning Free Solo, the 46-year-old has captured the full extent of human endeavor.

“When you’re pushing for cutting-edge expeditions, you’re often in close proximity to potential disaster,” he told CNN Sport. “You’re constantly managing risk and you’re in fairly serious situations all the time, so your senses are very sharpened.”

But Chin’s intrepid way of life has been put on hold as the world comes to grips with the coronavirus pandemic. To a certain degree, his past expeditions have readied him for such uncertain times and, he said, he hoped others could learn from his experiences.

“This is a moment to pause, reevaluate and think about what’s important,” he added.

READ: ‘If he slips, he falls. If he falls, he dies’ – Climbing 3,000 feet without ropes

Jimmy Chin has photographed all around the world.

Early years

As a film director and National Geographic photographer, Chin has assembled a world-class portfolio of work. This year he returned from a trip to Antarctica, where he and a team of adventurers skied two new routes down the tallest and second-tallest peaks on the continent.

But such a life wasn’t always the plan.

As a child growing up in rural Minnesota, Chin was encouraged to pursue more traditional aspirations: excelling academically, as well as in martial arts and as a competitive swimmer.

But it was skiing on a small hill behind his house that he found freedom. “If I did well in everything else, I got to ski,” he said.

Already with a taste for the world of outdoor sports, Chin was introduced to climbing at college. At that point, he said, it was game over as the sport became a vehicle to see the world and explore places that made his “heart sing.”

He moved to Yosemite National Park where he worked odd jobs to fund his nomadic lifestyle, eventually picking up a camera and starting to shoot.

“I have so many incredible photographer friends who had a really noble vision for being an artist with their photography,” he laughed.

“But my whole entry into it was just ‘if I take these photos and I sell them I can make a little money so I can keep climbing.’”

READ: Like ‘falling off the face of the earth,’ says kayaker after dropping down 134-foot waterfall

His adventures have often involved very high stakes.
Chin climbing up the Pacific on El Capitain in Yosemite, US.

Capturing the impossible