It was not entirely what I expected, though the slide show was fantastic! As I announced last week, I went to see adventure photographer, skier and mountaineer Jimmy Chin present at the National Geographic Society. I would have gotten my photo with him and displayed it in this post, but considering the makeup of the crowd, I decided against it.
After a “champagne reception” (odd for these events), Chin told a story of how he got to be the adventure photographer he is known for, and also about some of his current work. He was born in peakless Minnesota, where he said he built up the tolerance to be an alpinist: “The coldest I’ve ever been was when I was waiting for the bus,” then he added, “wearing a jean jacket.” After attending a “normal” four-year college he took a year off to get his new climbing hobby out of his system. It lasted longer than a year and he never looked back, though his parents had doubts about his pursuits after he was living out of his car for several years.
Jimmy explained that after earning the rite of passage through a couple of years of sending in Yosemite, he and some friends looked toward the other big walls and mountains of the world. He eventually ski descended Everest and started “shooting” pictures everywhere along the way.
The presentation on his attempt to summit the perpetually unclimbed Shark’s Fin route on Meru in Northern India was the real highlight. He interspersed comments throughout a film made by climbing partner Renen Ozturk. It was similar to this one of Jimmy on El Capitan:
http://vimeo.com/8370536. They planned for an eight-day climb and ended up being on the mountain for 20 days. And no matter what happened Jimmy had a good sense of humor.
The crowd at the NGS event surprised me the most. I’ve seen a number of other authors and adventurers in the climbing community present in and around Washington, DC, but never with an audience like this. Usually these talks attract other climbers or people knowledgeable with the subject. It felt more like a Faith Hill concert. There were at least two girls for every dude present. This was all thanks to his sponsor… which makes designer sunglasses. Jimmy, it sounds like you’ve got a good gig!
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