EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this year, we interviewed Mr. Jones about, among other things, his new movie, Higher. Just wanted to post an update because last night we attended a screening in New York City and it was, in a word, awesome. It’s unlike any other shred flick we’ve seen. Meaning, more than dudes in bright-colored jackets boosting off kicker after kicker as loud music blares. More like a portrait of a snowboarder in full—from teen competitor to big mountain legend to family man—strapping in for one last epic ride. With dozens of screenings across the country and globe to come (more info here), we figured now was a good time to resurface the original interview. Enjoy.
You could ride a ski lift to the highest Himalayan peak and still not have time to list all the feats of one Jeremy Jones, the Letterman to Shaun White’s Leno, a cult hero to legions of snowboarders who appreciate the world beyond the pipe. To name a few: 10-time Snowboarder Magazine “Big Mountain Rider of the Year”; founder of Protect Our Winters (POW), a non-profit that fights climate change; creator of the award-winning Jones Snowboards brand; 2013 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year nominee; one of President Obama’s 2013 Champions of Change.
And at 39 he’s still rolling, set to release the last in a groundbreaking trio of Teton Gravity Research-produced backcountry boarding flicks, Higher, this fall. (The hook? Jones and friends hike and climb the epic mountains they dream of riding, rather than catching a chopper ride to the top.) Suffice it to say, dude’s a shred legend. In the spirit of adventure, we caught up with him to talk filming, saving the planet and earning turns across the globe…
“I hope to inspire people to get out and push themselves and explore. There’s a huge reward in that.”
We’re psyched about Higher. Can you talk a little about the philosophy of the Deeper/Further/Higher trilogy?
I’ve been a part of almost 50 snowboard movies. For most, we used helicopters and snowmobiles. Over time, I realized there’s amazing snowboarding you can only access on foot. That’s the last frontier in the mountains. If you’re willing to hike and camp for even a night, you then have this abundance of unridden, unexplored terrain. I’ve also always been into backcountry hiking. And I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint—that’s a bonus byproduct of the films. At the end of the day, I hope to inspire people to get out and push themselves and explore. There’s a huge reward in that.
What can fans expect from this third chapter?
This one is focused on three expeditions, bigger descents. It’s kind of more grandiose on all levels. There’s a peak in Nepal that’s a big part of the film.
Last year you starred in a great Coors Light ad with Jason Aldean. How’d that come about, and was there any CGI involved?
The snowboarding was shot in Alaska, but there’s definite CGI in the avalanche, no question. That kinda came outta nowhere. I thought I was just gonna do stunt work for the ad, so I was surprised that I got to act.
You founded your own snowboard company, Jones Snowboards, in 2008. What’s most exciting to you about the new line?
We’re really excited about the diversity of the line, from a party Snurfer for standup sledding to an entry-level splitboard. One other huge step, with the use of new materials and techniques, is the quality of our splitboards [boards that separate into two ski-like planks—strap on special, grippy skins, and you can hike up mountains]. I find horrible conditions—crust, slop, ice, chatter—as opposed to perfect powder. And in final testing, our splitboards ride as good as our solids. In the past, splitboards were simply snowboards cut in half. We’re building boards as two separate pieces and bringing them together.
Something else of great importance to you is climate change. You founded Protect Our Winters in 2007 to combat it. What’s your main goal with this organization?
We have school programs that are constantly in motion. We are ramping up efforts, we’re making a film about the impact of exporting coal to Asia, trying to stop that from happening. The Momenta Project is in post-production now.
These Jones Snowboards Instagram shots from Lake Tahoe illustrate the epic-ness you can hike to…
The global temperature is expected to rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2020. Figures like that can feel overwhelming. As individuals, what can we do?
You can take the POW 7 pledge, which is seven things you can do right now, from being educated on current events and votes that effect the environment to your personal carbon footprint and voting with dollars—where are your products from? Find your lever. I’m a pro boarder with an audience. Maybe you work somewhere that doesn’t recycle, and you start a recycling program. Little things like that can make a difference.
What’s the most challenging or strangest snowboard mission you’ve taken on?
Antarctica is jaw-dropping—it’s got a sci-fi, different planet vibe. The Himalayas are like that, Alaska’s like that. But for me to come home to my home range [in Lake Tahoe] and find all this unridden terrain continues to blow me away. Pristine, desolate and untouched… and yet in the backyard of LA and San Francisco. Splitboarding has really reinvigorated my boarding back to when I was kid. I can do a new run every day.
What’s one piece of gear you never leave home without?
I’d say a mid-weight puffy jacket. That’s always with me in the backcountry and on a plane. The comfort it provides for the weight makes it a very efficient piece. From New York to the Himalayas, there’s no reason to not have that. I’m partial to the Jones Packable Down, one I developed with O’Neill.
What’s your No. 1 travel tip for budding adventurers?
What I tell my kids is, the most important thing to bring is a good attitude. That’s how I pick my travel partners. And I have very low expectations. I’m easily excitable with conditions. Nothing is worse than being with someone on a trip, and it’s pretty darn good, and they’re complaining because it’s not the best day ever. In the backcountry specifically, it’s super important to know your objective for that day. I go in thinking I’m probably gonna get turned around, and I’m mentally prepared for that. I’m thinking, If everything works out perfectly, maybe we can stand on top of that thing, we may get to ride it. I’m not emotionally invested in the summit.
You’ve been everywhere. If there’s one mountain every rider should try to hit before he or she dies, what is it?
The mountain you haven’t ridden yet.
Spring has sprung, and we are issuing a call to explore new frontiers here on Made Man. Check out Our Guide to Modern Adventure, soak up the inspiration, then get out and blaze your own epic trail.