Jimmy Chin – Net Worth, Wife (Vasarhelyi), Movies, Age

Jimmy Chin is an American rock climber and professional photographer who has joined the Altitude Everest Expedition as a climber and expedition photographer in 2007. Also, his work has been commissioned by National Geographic.


He was born on October 12, 1973, in Mankato, Minnesota, USA.

His parents escaped mainland China and fled to Taiwan. Eventually, they immigrated to the flatlands of Mankato.

Chin is an undergrad at Carleton College, where he received a BA in Asian studies.

After graduation, Jimmy moved into the back of his car and parked in Yosemite National Park (located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains), and became a full-time climbing dirtbag (a person who dedicates his or her entire existence to the pursuit of climbing, making ends meet using creative mean).

During an interview, Chin recalled:

“As far as they were concerned, I was a homeless person. And they had just spent their life savings putting me through school—private boarding school, private liberal arts college.”

Jimmy later added:

”They were mortified. That added a lot of extra pressure and doubt.”

In 2002, Chin was asked to join a National Geographic expedition to make an unsupported crossing of the remote Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet with Rick Ridgeway (a mountaineer and adventurer, who during his career has also been an environmentalist, filmmaker, writer, and businessman), Galen Rowell, and Conrad Anker.

The expedition was documented in Rick Ridgeway’s book The Big Open and featured in National Geographic’s April 2003 issue.

Jimmy Chin biography
Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Renan Ozturk, and Conrad Anker – © Guliver / Getty Images

In 2003, Jimmy headed to Everest with Stephen Koch (an American adventurer, mountaineer, extreme snowboarder, and pioneer in the field of snowboard mountaineering). They attempted the direct North Face via the Japanese Couloir to the Hornbein Couloir in alpine style. They were unsuccessful and both were almost killed in an avalanche.

In May 2004, Jimmy climbed Everest with Ed Viesturs and David Breashears (in 1985, David reached the summit of Mount Everest a 2nd time, becoming the 1st American to reach the summit of Mount Everest more than once) while filming for Working Title on a feature film project with Stephen Daldry.

In 2005, he accompanied Ed Viesturs to Annapurna (a massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal which includes one peak over 8,000 meters). Jimmy photographed the expedition and the story was featured in the September 2005 issue of Men’s Journal.

In October 2006, he achieved the first successful American ski descent of Mount Everest with Rob and Kit DesLauriers (an American ski-mountaineer and the first person to ski down the Seven Summits). They skied from the summit and are the only people to have skied the South East Ridge route.

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Durian a 2017 interview, he said:

”I used to train a lot in the mountains to gain more experience, and now I train less in the mountains because I only reserve that time for when I’m really trying to do something.”

Jimmy continued:

Jimmy Chin Net Worth
Image source – © Guliver / Getty Images

”I know I can do a lot of the training in space that’s relatively safe. I don’t need to keep building that deep base of experience, but it’s balance, because you have to spend enough time in the mountains to keep your edge and stay on your game.”

In May 2007, he joined the Altitude Everest Expedition as an expedition photographer and climber in an attempt to retrace Sandy Irvine and George Mallory’s fateful last journey up the North Face of Everest.

Outside of major Himalayan expeditions, Chin has participated in numerous exploratory climbing and skiing expeditions to Baffin Island, Borneo, Mali, Chad, the Pitcairn Islands, and other remote regions of the planet.

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In 2011, Jimmy and his climbing partners achieved the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in the Garhwal Himalaya (a mountain that is located in the state of Uttarakhand, India). Chin helped produce a highly acclaimed documentary film about this experience, that won numerous awards, including the Audience Award at Sundance in 2015.

In 2017, he led a team that filmed Alex Honnold on the first-ever rope-free ascent of El Capitan. The granite monolith is about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face.

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In 2013, Jimmy Chin married documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Her first film, ”A Normal Life,” won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003.

Jimmy Chin with his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Image source – © Guliver / Getty Images

The couple has two children: Marina and James.

In 2019, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin won the Academy Award in the Best Documentary category for their work on Free Solo (2018).

”Free Solo” is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. The film is available to stream in the US through the National Geographic TV channel website and app.

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The film received several accolades, including winning Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards. ”Free Solo” was released in the US on September 28, 2018, and has grossed over $21 million.

On August 31, 2018, ”Free Solo” had its premiere, at the Telluride Film Festival. At the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary won the People’s Choice Award in the Documentaries category.

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”Free Solo” profiles rock climber Alex Honnold on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan in June 2017.


”There is nothing like the surreal endless white and the wicked cold of the icy continent.”


His achievements include making first ascents of big walls and alpine towers in the Garhwal Himalayas of Northern India and the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan, skiing and climbing Mount Everest from the summit, and crossing the Chang Tang Plateau in north-western Tibet on foot.

He has garnered numerous photography awards from Communication Arts, Photo District News (PDN), and the American Society of Magazine Editors.

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Jimmy has organized and led many climbing, ski-mountaineering, and exploratory expeditions to:

  • Argentina;
  • India;
  • Borneo;
  • South Africa;
  • Mali;
  • Chad;
  • Tanzania;
  • Greenland;
  • Nepal;
  • Pakistan;
  • China.

He was 400 feet away from the 20,702-foot summit of Meru’s Shark’s Fin when he turned around on their first failed ascent.

Jimmy Chin – Net Worth

Chin earned most of his wealth from working as a professional photographer for National Geographic. His salary was not released to the public, but, in general, all National Geographic photographers are independent contractors and are paid about $500 a day plus travel expenses while they are on assignment.

Jimmy also has a website on which you can learn about his work. Therefore, Jimmy Chin has an estimated net worth of $0.9 million.

Featured image source – © Guliver / Getty Images.

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