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Jimmy Chin 20070910 Pacific Ocean Wall 1058

Oscar winner Jimmy Chin chooses two favourite images

The photographer and Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind Free Solo reflects on two moments from a breathtaking career

His Academy Award-winning documentary, Free Solo, brought filmmaker and photographer Jimmy Chin crashing into mainstream consciousness.

The National Geographic film showed the 2017 attempt by Alex Honnold to climb El Capitan – the 3,000ft-high rock formation in Yosemite Valley, California – with no ropes.

Chin began his career as a professional climber and skier, later earning a reputation for visualising some of the world's most high-risk environments and expeditions. Besides skiing from the summit of Mount Everest and trekking across Tibet's Chang Tang Plateau, he has made first ascents on all seven continents.

The photographer, who is pictured above climbing the Pacific Ocean Wall in California, describes two of his favourite images.

‘Skiing Everest’, 2006, By Jimmy Chin

‘Skiing Everest’, 2006, by Jimmy Chin

“This is Kit DesLauriers and Rob DesLauriers, a husband-and-wife team of extreme skiers, roping up to rappel the Hillary Step on Everest, which is an almost vertical rock face. We had just skied from the summit, and we were going to have to rappel this little rock section and then ski along the ridge that you can see down below. When I left for Everest, I remember thinking ‘I want to get a shot that no one has ever seen before’, because Everest has been shot endlessly. And I remember seeing this photo and thinking ‘Well, no one’s ever seen this photo before’.”

‘The Direct North Face Of Everest’, 2002, By Jimmy Chin

‘The direct north face of Everest’, 2002, by Jimmy Chin

“This picture was shot on film. It’s taken at a few thousand feet up the direct north face of Everest. Stephen Koch is trying to snowboard the direct north face, so he has a snowboard on his back. He was one of the great snowboard mountaineers in the world at the time, and you can see how much suffering is going on. It’s hard to show what altitude feels like but I think you get a sense of that here in this photo.”


Jimmy Chin selects his ‘Best shots’ in the January/February 2022 issue of the RPS Journal.

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