Going Further with Jeremy Jones
Published on 07/11/2012
By Mallory Ayres
If you know snowboarding, you know the name Jeremy Jones. He was one of the first bold souls to ride back in the days when skiers looked at snowboarders like they had horns on their heads. But Jones couldn't care less, snowboarding was his life blood, and he helped build a community that eventually spread over the world. Today Jones is one of, if not the best, backcountry snowboarder in the world, and he is constantly exploring new terrain and new techniques. He dropped jaws with his 2010 film Deeper where he braved harsh conditions and all night hikes to find the most exciting untouched lines, and he is undoubtedly going to turn heads again with his new film premiering this fall called Further, which explores even wilder, more remote terrain. Even more amazing, Jones has been accessing the terrain on foot.
Even when he's off the mountain this man doesn't stop. He started a non-profit called Protect Our Winters which is working to engage the snowsports community in the fight against climate change. He also has his own snowboard company, Jones Snowboards, that is coming out with some revolutionary new products. We had a chance to talk with Jones when he was up in Whistler for the O'Neill Experience, and he gave us the scoop on his new film, his thoughts on climate change and the new Jones gear to check out this fall.
Q: What was the snowboarding community like when you first started riding?
A: I feel really fortunate that I first started snowboarding toward the beginning of the sport. I actually didn't meet another snowboarder outside the couple of my friends who did it for a few years. Once it was allowed at the resort, when you ran into another snowboarder you would end up hanging out with them, so by the end of the day all the snowboarders at the resort on any given day would end up hanging out together. It was really like a family.
Q: People often say that you “ride the un-rideable.” Out of all the first descents you’ve taken, which has been the most memorable for you?
A: There is a level that I hit sometimes, where everything comes together mentally and physically and I'm right at this fine line. I call it "the white moment." It could happen once a year, or it could take a couple years to hit that white moment. But when you hit it, there's nothing greater than that, and I've been fortunate to be able to achieve quite a few white moments over the years.
Q: What terrain have you been the most excited about during the filming of Further?
A: I went to these ranges that I knew very little about. I mean, I did my research on them, but I had never been there, whereas with Deeper I went to ranges that I was familiar with. I went to places in the range that you could only get to if you camp, so what was really exciting with every trip in Further was totally going into the unknown and not knowing what to expect. [Every trip] delivered just mind boggling, incredible terrain.
Q: What is your non-profit, Protect Our Winters, most focused on now?
A: Right now with the election cycle coming up we've been working on a green job tech report and just gathering information [on how] green tech is working. We are also re-vamping a school program. We're actually also getting involved with trying to launch a Pebble Mine campaign in Alaska which could go either way at this point, and we'd come in to hopefully to rally the troops to stop [the mine]. That's the immediate stuff.
Q: How is the recent political climate affecting Protect Our Winters?
A: We are having to put more energy into defending the science behind climate change than we had to say four years ago, and that's a little bit frustrating because these climate deniers have gotten really effective at poking holes in the science. I'd say that we are moving backward as a country instead of forward, and that's frustrating.
Q: The Protect Our Winters site says, “Skiing, as we know it, is on borrowed time.” How have you experienced climate change personally?
A:Cut and dry what inspired me to start Protect Our Winters happened about 10 years ago. I was at a resort in Canada with a guy who was 30 years old and grew up skiing that resort; he learned how to ski there. That resort relied on 100% natural snow and it no longer snowed there, so his home resort was forced to close down. So here was a guy that was 30 years old and in his lifetime saw his mountain go away. Fast forward to current day stuff, it's just the extreme weather changes in the last few years in particular. You have to be careful to point to any singular weather event and call it climate change, but that being said, it has been pretty bizarre to not wonder what's going on when California goes through a record breaking snow two years ago to a record low snow this year in a two year period. Alaska saw the same exact thing except on the flip side: they had their best winter ever this year and their worst ever last year. Europe has had these horrible winters. They had a phenomenal winter this year (a 50 year coldfront) followed by crazy high temperatures. In the low elevation zones that I frequent, it's been tougher and tougher to score good conditions. In Europe you can see glaciers receding right in front of your eyes practically, which is pretty unheard of. They're not supposed to fluctuate that much.
Q: You’ve been combining mountaineering skills with snowboarding skills in order to access more of the backcountry, something that hasn’t been explored that much. What has been the most exciting thing about this intersection for the sport of snowboarding?
A: There have definitely been snowboarders before me that have achieved incredible stuff and have snowboarded off some of the world's highest mountains and done it on foot. What I'm doing is a little bit different in that I'm not going for these trophy peaks and these dream lines. I'm going for peaks that are unnamed and unexplored because they're not the highest peak in the range. The improvements that we've made in splitboarding have allowed us to go on foot and ride these lines that are really high level. In the past we've been restricted by our equipment a lot more than we are now.
Q: How has accessing terrain on foot changed your relationship with the backcountry?
A: I've really gotten into this new approach for me because it's such a rich experience being out there for days on end totally disconnected from society and living on wilderness terms. I'm really immersing myself out there and camping, so I'm getting these incredibly fulfilling, rich experiences. I get these incredible highs, and I would say lows too, in the sense of waking up in the middle of the night to go put on boots to hike up a mountain in the dark (which is one of the eerier things I've ever done), followed by the highs of snowboarding down them. It gives me this huge range of emotions in a 10 hour period which is really cool to experience.
Q: What's your favorite gear in the Jones 2013 lines?
A: As far as clothing goes, we are launching this [O'Neill] three layer set that I ended up spending the majority of the winter in. I've been testing it for over a year but I really wanted to test it to the ultimate extreme of weather, in the sense of winter camping for weeks on end. I actually spent a ton of time in this two layer stuff to see if it could hold up, and it preformed incredibly well. That was really exciting. With my snowboards I have this carbon splitboard that has been in the works for a really long time that we are finally releasing to the public. I've never ridden a snowboard remotely like it from a high performance perspective.
O'Neill Snow Product and Marketing Manager, Juliet Korver on Jeremy Jones:
JONES 3-LAYER SHELL JACKET
No one really knows how Jeremy Jones can shred the way he does in some of the most extreme conditions in the world – but there is no mystery to what keeps him warm and dry on the hill. The Jones 3L Shell, the pinnacle piece in the O’Neill Explore Series, is engineered out of stretch 100% recycled polyester ripstop fabric. Featuring fully taped seams, waterproof zips, 20K MM/15K GRS water column and maximum breathability, you may not shred like Jeremy but you’ll look and feel damn good trying.
JONES 3-LAYER SHELL PANT
The Jones 3L Shell pant is the pinnacle bottom in the Explore Series and the pair that Jeremy swears by all season long. Fully loaded with 4-way stretch recycled ripstop, fully taped seams, waterproof zips, Recco, and 20K MM/15K GRS water column and maximum breathability, these pants will keep you warm, dry and safe on even the gnarliest days in the backcountry.
JONES PACKABLE DOWN
Take a hike. No, really – take a hike with the Jones Packable Down jacket, perfect for stuffing in your pack and warm enough for even the coldest days, this light-as-a-feather jacket features an amazing warmth to weight ratio, thanks to the 90/10 down and 700 fill power. Made of 100% recycled ripstop and supporting POW, you can feel good about looking good.
Q: What's coming up next for you?
A: Coming up next is camping with my family and a pretty big edit push on Further, which has been in the works the past couple months. I'll go to Jackson hole and spend the final few weeks putting the final touches on the film. Then hopefully snowboarding away from a camera in August on a work trip testing products. Then it's the premiere tour.