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Weekly Podcast: Jimmy Chin, the athlete who cheats death, by Tim Ferriss

Jimmy Chin might be the best athlete in the world that we have never heard of; he’s climbed to the top of Mount Everest and then skied down the entire way. Jimmy had attempted Shark Fin’s route twice in climbing Meru Peak, in which he failed the first time due to a severe weather condition, and then followed by a second trip where he and two other climbers had become the first to succeed at reaching the top, while filming the trip.

Meru is a documentary about the breathtaking (literally and figuratively) experience of climbing Meru Peak by taking the Shark’s Fin route. I find Jimmy’s story inspirational because he’s founded a career in climbing, photography, and film making by living through the process of learning those skills from scratch.

I have 5 highlights from this interview. (I will also give you the time slot on the podcast so you could skip around and find the segment that resonate with me the most)

12:14, and goes on for about 2 and half minutes
A passion is only practical if you could do the work and learn the craft, and support yourself with the earnings from selling it.

Jimmy is asked to choose and keep one of his three professions, climbing, photography, or film making, he’d choose to keep climbing because extreme sports inspire him to do the other work. Extreme sports are Jimmy’s passion, and his creative process in photography and film making is rooted in his exposure to nature.

28:00, and goes on for about 2 minutes
Alleviate the perceived fear in climbing by teaching the safety system and practice it often

Jimmy tells about his approach in teaching a beginner to climb. Jimmy would have his student start with bouldering to get familiar with the movement and techniques, and then follow by teaching the student on manuevering the ropes. Fear in climbing is often rooted in perceived risks, and if the beginner were able to learn the basics and safety early, then he or she’d be better at managing the fear.

59:16, and goes on for 2 minutes
When face with obstacles, draw from experiences and temper expectations, and focus on the tasks on hand.

In the film Meru, there is a sequence of climbing that is called House of Cards; Jimmy had to climb a section of the mountain with extreme care because any uneven distribution of his weight could cause the rocks to peel off and take the entire expedition team down the mountain. With such difficult task on hand, experiences and rational decision making are critical in staying alive.

1:04:54, and goes on for about 5 minutes
Mountain climbing and reading are beneficial in acquiring new skills and stimulating growth

Mountain climbing involves teamwork and organizational skills, and also promotes self-discovery. Reading, not exclusively to books, leads to creativity, and ultimately leads to better output at work.

1:18:58, and goes on for about 2 minutes
Giving advice to a 30-yr old self: think of the long game, and chill out. Accept the ups and downs of the life

The interview was conducted when Jimmy was about 40-year old. When asked about giving some advice to a 30-year old self, Jimmy says that he’d tell the younger self to “play the long game” and enjoy living through the ups and downs. His own advice resonates with me because I share a similar sentiment of slowing down on life and enjoying it for its highs and lows, and also to cherish the privilege of eating good food and reading great books.

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