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TWO FOR THE ROAD 

48 HOURS IN NICARAGUA
WITH JIMMY CHIN AND JEFF JOHNSON
 

TWO FOR THE ROAD

48 HOURS IN NICARAGUA
WITH JIMMY CHIN AND JEFF JOHNSON 

Photography by  J I M M Y  C H I N  &  J E F F  J O H N S O N

 

Jeff Johnson, a writer and Patagonia’s first staff photographer, met director Jimmy Chin in 2007
when the two extreme sportsmen were caught in a snowstorm. They were climbing El Capitan in
Yosemite Valley 10 years before Chin would return to film his Academy Award-winning documentary 
Free Solo on the mountain.“We were on the radio, bantering back and forth,” recalls Johnson.
Jeff was scaling one of El Cap’s sheer granite walls—which can reach up to 3,000 feet, 2.5
times the height of the Empire State Building. Around the corner was Chin and another mountaineer,
Conrad Anker, both of whom had conquered one of the world’s most dangerous stretches
of ice and rock in Chin’s 2015 film Meru.

Photography by  J I M M Y  C H I N  &  J E F F  J O H N S O N

 

Jeff Johnson, a writer and Patagonia’s first staff
photographer, met director Jimmy Chin in
2007 when the two extreme sportsmen were
caught in a snowstorm. They were climbing El
Capitan in Yosemite Valley 10 years before Chin
would return to film his Academy Award-
winning documentary Free Solo on the mountain.
“We were on the radio, bantering back and forth,”
recalls Johnson. Jeff was scaling one of El
Cap’s sheer granite walls—which can reach up
to 3,000 feet, 2.5 times the height of the Empire
State Building. Around the corner was Chin
and another mountaineer, Conrad Anker, both
of whom had conquered one of the world’s
most dangerous stretches of ice and rock
in Chin’s 2015 film Meru.

 

In 2008, four months after that first conversation, Johnson and Chin found themselves in Chile together.
They were both working on the adventure documentary 180° South, which retraced the legendary trip to Patagonia
taken by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins—the men behind Patagonia and North Face respectively.
Inspired by the movie’s focus on kindred renegade spirits, Johnson and Chin bonded over their love of
climbing mountains, riding waves, photography and travel.

 

For David and Evan Yurman, the outdoors and adventure are both constant sources of inspiration, especially
Chouinard’s book Let My People Surf. So it was only natural for Johnson and Chin to road-test a selection of
our men’s jewelry while on a recent surf trip to Nicaragua.

In 2008, four months after that first conversation,
Johnson and Chin found themselves in Chile
together. They were both working on the adventure
documentary 180° South, which retraced the
legendary trip to Patagonia taken by Yvon Chouinard
and Doug Tompkins—the men behind Patagonia and
North Face respectively. Inspired by the movie’s focus
on kindred renegade spirits, Johnson and Chin
bonded over their love of climbing mountains, riding
waves, photography and travel.

 

For David and Evan Yurman, the outdoors and
adventure are both constant sources of inspiration,
especially Chouinard’s book Let My People Surf. So it
was only natural for Johnson and Chin to road-test a
selection of our men’s jewelry while on a recent surf
trip to Nicaragua.

Q: WHY NICARAGUA? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TRAVELING TOGETHER? 

Jeff:

 

We went to film the second part of 180° South, which was a six-month trip to South America
exploring the origins of Patagonia with Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins.

 

For the last 10 to 15 years, I've probably climbed more than surfed. So, I've gotten really into the
climbing world, and it was fun to bring Jimmy on this trip to Nicaragua and share
some of my thoughts on surfing.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

Jeff’s spent much more time in the water than I have, and he loves to climb. I've obviously spent a
lot more time climbing than he has, so we have a lot to talk about and a lot to learn from each other.
These interactions and exchanges are gold. Life is very simple on the road when you're on a surf
trip. It's creative, it's being out.

 

Simple living. That's our roots. You don't need much. And that's such a nice reminder in this day and age.
We stayed inthis palapa on the beach, going with fishermen out to the breaks. A lot of boat rides, or just driving
along the coast looking for good breaks. You're surfing five to six hours a day, eating and then
passing out at like 8:00pm. It was a dream trip—just perfect.

Q: WHY NICARAGUA? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TRAVELING TOGETHER? 

Jeff:

 

We went to film the second part of 180° South, which
was a six-month trip to South America exploring the
origins of Patagonia with Yvon Chouinard and Doug
Tompkins.

 

For the last 10 to 15 years, I've probably climbed more
than surfed. So, I've gotten really into the climbing
world, and it was fun to bring Jimmy on this trip to
Nicaragua and share some of my thoughts on surfing.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

Jeff’s spent much more time in the water than I have,
and he loves to climb. I've obviously spent a lot
more time climbing than he has,  so we have a lot
to talk about and a lot to learn from each other.
These interactions and exchanges are gold. Life
is very simple on the road when you're on a surf
trip. It's creative, it's being out.

 

Simple living. That's our roots. You don't need much.
And that's such a nice reminder in this day and
age. We stayed in this palapa on the beach, going
with fishermen out to the breaks. A lot of boat rides,
or just driving along the coast looking for good
breaks. You're surfing five to six hours a day,
eating and then passing out at like 8:00pm. It
was a dream trip—just perfect.

Q: SURFING VERSUS MOUNTAIN CLIMBING? 

Jeff:

 

It's tough. Ask anybody—Jimmy or any great athlete. Hands down, they will say surfing's the hardest thing
they've ever done.

 

I think my addiction to surfing comes about partly because it's not always available to you. So, you're
always just barely getting your fix because it's so elusive. Whereas, a mountain, rock or even a skateboard
ramp doesn't move. But with surfing, you're dealing with Mother Nature and you are at her whim.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

Surfing has drawn me in over the years. It moves me in the same way that climbing, skiing and being in the
mountains has moved me. There are so many parallels between the two—being in the elements, feeling the power of
Mother Nature. In surfing, you track the swells from storms. As a skier, you're tracking storms for snow too, the bigger
the better. There are so many parallels between the two— the physicality, the mental aspects, the amount of
commitment it takes to get good.

 

In skiing, the feeling of carving, and driving your skis and the G-forces you feel when you
make a really good turn are so similar to a bottom turn when the rail of the surfboard's in the water.
I started surfing probably 20 years ago, but I'm a mountain guy.

Q: SURFING VERSUS MOUNTAIN CLIMBING? 

Jeff:

 

It's tough. Ask anybody—Jimmy or any great
athlete. Hands down, they will say surfing's the
hardest thing they've ever done.

 

I think my addiction to surfing comes about partly
because it's not always available to you. So, you're
always just barely getting your fix because it's so
elusive. Whereas, a mountain, rock or even a
skateboard ramp doesn't move. But with surfing,
you're dealing with Mother Nature and you are at
her whim.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

Surfing has drawn me in over the years. It
moves me in the same way that climbing,
skiing and being in the mountains has moved
me. There are so many parallels between the
two—being in the elements, feeling the power
of Mother Nature. In surfing, you track the
swells from storms. As a skier, you're tracking
storms for snow too, the bigger the better. There
are so many parallels between the two—the
physicality, the mental aspects, the amount
of commitment it takes to get good.

 

In skiing, the feeling of carving, and driving
your skis and the G-forces you feel when
you make a really good turn are so similar
to a bottom turn when the rail of the surfboard's
in the water. I started surfing probably 20
years ago, but I'm a mountain guy

A color photo shows Jeff Johnson wearing board shorts and surfing a large wave in Nicaragua.

Jeff Johnson began surfing at the age of 16. When he turned 18, he moved from California to Oahu’s North Shore to be in the heart of surf culture. 

Jeff Johnson began surfing at the age of 16. When he
turned 18, he moved from California to Oahu’s North
Shore to be in the heart of surf culture.

Q: JEFF, YOU ONCE SAID THAT ORGANIZED SPORT IS NOT CREATIVE AND IT
WAS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU GRAVITATED TOWARD THE FREEDOM
OF SKATEBOARDING. IS SURFING AN EXTENSION OF THAT FREEDOM?

Jeff:

 

Yeah. There was a point in my life when I was 12 years old and playing soccer, football, baseball. One
day I just quit all organized sports, cut my hair and got a skateboard. And from there on out it was just
punk rock and skateboards.

 

 

I didn't care about winning or losing as much. I got into surfing because I looked at surfing as this
subculture. You have these guys where you're not sure what they're doing and they kind of have their
own thing. Of course, there's a side of surfing that's super competitive, but I wasn't interested in that. I
was more interested in the subculture and the mystique around it. It was just a lifestyle choice. Even
photography is a lifestyle choice, you know? So, I could travel the world and surf my brains out.

Q: JEFF, YOU ONCE SAID THAT ORGANIZED
SPORT IS NOT CREATIVE AND IT WAS ONE
OF THE REASONS WHY YOU GRAVITATED
TOWARD THE FREEDOM OF SKATEBOARDING.
IS SURFING AN EXTENSION OF THAT FREEDOM?

Jeff:

 

Yeah. There was a point in my life when I was 12
years old and playing soccer, football, baseball. One
day I just quit all organized sports, cut my hair and
got a skateboard. And from there on out it was just
punk rock and skateboards.

 

 

I didn't care about winning or losing as much. I got
into surfing because I looked at surfing as this
subculture. You have these guys where you're not
sure what they're doing and they kind of have their
own thing. Of course, there's a side of surfing that's
super competitive, but I wasn't interested in that. I
was more interested in the subculture and the
mystique around it. It was just a lifestyle choice.
Even photography is a lifestyle choice, you know? So,
I could travel the world and surf my brains out.

 

Q: MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU BOTH STARE DEATH IN THE FACE SO MUCH
THAT IT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING YOUR LIFE?

Jeff:

 

It really humbles you. And Jimmy can be a testament to that. I've seen a little bit of it, but
the stuff that he's seen is just crazy.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

I’ve learned that time is the only true currency and this isn’t a dress rehearsal. And I agree with Jeff.
Ultimately it really humbles you. That’s a good thing to help you keep your feet on the ground. Contemplating
your mortality gives you a good perspective on life. You learn it’s about the friendships, and the adventure...
you know, pushing the edge of human potential. And what comes with that. You make sacrifices, but you also have
incredible shared experiences and create incredible bonds. These are all things that I think everybody
can relate to, even though these experiences come from a world that you might not be familiar with.
I've had some of my most powerful experiences in the mountains, in the ocean and out in the
elements where everything's stripped away and raw. 

Q: MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU BOTH
STARE DEATH IN THE FACE SO MUCH
THAT IT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY OF
LIVING YOUR LIFE?

Jeff:

 

It really humbles you. And Jimmy can
be a testament to that. I've seen a little bit of it, but
the stuff that he's seen is just crazy.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

I’ve learned that time is the only true currency
and this isn’t a dress rehearsal. And I agree
with Jeff. Ultimately it really humbles you. That’s
a good thing to help you keep your feet on the
ground. Contemplating your mortality gives you
a good perspective on life. You learn it’s about the
friendships, and the adventure... you know, pushing
the edge of human potential. And what comes with
that. You make sacrifices, but you also have incredible
shared experiences and create incredible bonds.
These are all things that I think everybody can relate
to, even though these experiences come from a
world that you might not be familiar with. I've had
some of my most powerful experiences in the
mountains, in the ocean and out in the elements
where everything's stripped away and raw. 

Q: HOW DO YOU OVERCOME FEAR?

Jeff:

 

I don’t think you ever overcome fear, you just learn to deal with it in a different way. It takes time
like anything else.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

You have to pay your dues, examine fear and live with it until you can move past it. You can also help
manage fear by being objective about it. Often people become paralyzed by fear when they don’t
distinguish between real risk and perceived risk. It can seem overwhelming if you don’t separate the two

 

Fear also comes in many forms. It’s not only the physical risks, but emotional risks and making hard choices in life.

Q: HOW DO YOU OVERCOME FEAR?

Jeff:

 

I don’t think you ever overcome fear, you just learn
to deal with it in a different way. It takes time like
anything else.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

You have to pay your dues, examine fear and
live with it until you can move past it. You
can also help managefear by being objective
about it. Often people become paralyzed by
fear when they don’t distinguish between real
risk and perceived risk.It can seem overwhelming
if you don’t separate the two 

 

Fear also comes in many forms. It’s not only
the physical risks, but emotional risks and
making hard choices in life.

Q: GEAR IS IMPORTANT IN YOUR WORLD, ESPECIALLY FUNCTION
BEFORE FORM. BUT WHAT ABOUT FASHION AND JEWELRY?

Jeff:

 

We found out that we actually are kind of gear nerds, but in the way that we like less gear. We're trying
to do more with less, whether it's surfing or climbing, and the whole less is more thing is definitely
Yvon's ethos. Especially in climbing—climbers just live that way. They have to have literally less weight
on them to do better. So they're always trying to figure out how to do more with less. It's when you
can't take anything else away and it's in its most pure form.

 

We actually started geeking out about the jewelry because we saw how well made it was—even the
clasps. The clasps are seamless, and there's so much thought put into every little detail. It’s really
impressive. It was totally eye opening for us.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

And that appreciation for elegant design has to do with our aesthetics as visual story tellers, but also having
used a lot of different tools. It's always the simplest, most elegant design that stands the test of time. You
know something's well designed when it hasn't changed in 50 years. So both Jeff
and I were drawn to the pieces that were very simple and beautiful and elegant, yet timeless.

 

For me, seeing the choices that Evan [Yurman] made in these pieces was something I also really
appreciated because when you choose a piece, you're also choosing the choices that the designer made. I
feel a certain connection to that process.

Q: GEAR IS IMPORTANT IN YOUR
WORLD, ESPECIALLY FUNCTION BEFORE
FORM. BUT WHAT ABOUT FASHION AND JEWELRY?

Jeff:

 

We found out that we actually are kind of gear
nerds, but in the way that we like less gear. We're
trying to do more with less, whether it's surfing or
climbing, and the whole less is more thing is
definitely Yvon's ethos. Especially in
climbing—climbers just live that way. They have to
have literally less weight on them to do better. So
they're always trying to figure out how to do more
with less. It's when you can't take anything else away
and it's in its most pure form.

 

We actually started geeking out about the jewelry
because we saw how well made it was—even the
clasps. The clasps are seamless, and there's so much
thought put into every little detail. It’s really
impressive. It was totally eye opening for us.

 

 

 

Jimmy:

 

And that appreciation for elegant design has
to do with our aesthetics as visual story tellers,
but also having used a lot of different tools. It's
always the simplest, most elegant design that
stands the test of time. You know something's
well designed when it hasn't changed in 50
years. So both Jeff and I were drawn to
the pieces that were very simple and
beautiful and elegant, yet timeless.

 

For me, seeing the choices that Evan
[Yurman] made in these pieces was something
I also really appreciated because when you choose
a piece, you're also choosing the choices that
the designer made. I feel a certain connection
to that process.

 

Jeff Johnson and Jimmy Chin met while working together on the documentary 180° South. In the film, Johnson follows the 1968
journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, driving from California to South America while surfing along the way. Like the
legendary pair, he eventually attempts to climb a mountain in Chile’s Patagonia region where Chouinard and Tompkins have
spent their fortunes trying to conserve the pristine wilderness. 

Jeff Johnson and Jimmy Chin met while working together on the documentary 180° South. In the film, Johnson follows the 1968 journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, driving from California to South America while surfing along the way. Like the legendary pair, he eventually at-tempts to climb a mountain in Chile’s Patagonia region where Chouinard and Tompkins have spent their fortunes trying to conserve the pristine wilderness. 

SHOP THE STORY

SHOP THE STORY

Alt Text

Cable Classic Cuff Bracelet
with 18K Gold

Cable Classic Cuff Bracelet 
with 18K Gold

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Chevron Woven Cuff
Bracelet, 9mm

Chevron Woven Cuff
Bracelet, 9mm

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Chevron Triple-Wrap
Bracelet in Brown Leather

Chevron Triple-Wrap
Bracelet in Brown Leather

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Southwest Feather Wrap
Bracelet with Turquoise

Southwest Feather Wrap 
Bracelet with Turquoise

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Southwest Bead Bracelet
with Turquoise

Southwest Bead Bracelet
with Turquoise

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Southwest Cigar Band
Feather Ring with Turquoise

Southwest Cigar Band 
Feather Ring with Turquoise

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Shipwreck Coin Band Ring
in Sterling Silver, 12mm

Shipwreck Coin Band Ring 
in Sterling Silver, 12mm

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Chevron Woven Band
Ring, 6mm

Chevron Woven Band 
Ring, 6mm

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Heirloom Exotic Stone
Signet Ring with Tiger's Eye

Heirloom Exotic Stone 
Signet Ring with Tiger's Eye

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Cable Classics Skull
Pendant in 18K Gold

Cable Classics Skull 
Pendant in 18K Gold

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Petrvs Lion Amulet with
18K Yellow Gold

Petrvs Lion Amulet with 
18K Yellow Gold

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Streamline® Tag with
Turquoise, 35mm

Streamline® Tag with
Turquoise, 35mm

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Small Box Chain, 2.7mm

Small Box Chain, 2.7mm

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Spiritual Beads Necklace
with Howlite

Spiritual Beads Necklace 
with Howlite

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Spiritual Bead Necklace
with Tiger's Eye, 5mm

Spiritual Bead Necklace 
with Tiger's Eye, 5mm