POC MAG – One Step Further Feat Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones has his hands full. It’s mid August and, talking on the phone from his home in Truckee, California, the big- mountain snowboarder sounds distracted. It’s not surprising, really, given that his to-do list reads like a three-part novella. For starters, there are the 125 riding days he clocks up each year, compulsively seeking out - and then dominating - the world’s most vertiginous backcountry lines. Back at base, meanwhile, numbers must be crunched and tough decisions made to ensure that Jones Snowboards, the company he founded in 2009, balances commerce with loftier green goals. Throw in a bit of high-level lobbying work as the face of Protect Our Winters - the non-profit he founded in 2007 to unite the winter sports community in the fight against climate change - and you soon get a picture of Jeremy’s frenetic, tripartite life. But right now, at 9am on a chore-filled Monday, bottom lines and first descents are child’s play in comparison to this morning’s pressing task: he needs to locate a copy of The Lion King - fast.

Words: Andrea Kurland    Photography: Tero Repo

“What’s up Cass? You wanna watch the rocket ship on the computer?”

“NO! Wanna watch the shoooow!”

“What? What do you wanna do?”

“The Kin... The Rion Kinnnn!”

“Oh, The Lion King! Well, I can’t find that right now, but you can watch the rocket ship on the computer?!”

“Nooooooooo!”

“Okay, okay - you can watch it. But only until Mommy gets home, okay?”

“An I wan popcorn, too...”

“No, you can’t have popcorn.”

“No? Why Daddy? Whyyyy!”

He may have conquered Alaska, Antarctica and every sketchy precipice in between, but at the age of thirty-six, Jeremy’s most rewarding challenges still lie at home, thanks to three-year-old Cass and Mia who’s six. “Having a family has made me much more protective of my time,” says Jeremy, tuning back into our conversation as ‘The Circle of Life’ kicks in. “I’ve taken control of my career in the sense that I have very few sponsors and they value my time; if I’m leaving my house, it’s for something that’s super important. Then there’s the added importance of coming home from the mountain safely. There’s no question my family is with me in the mountains, especially when I’m lining up a serious descent. My family is on my shoulders saying, ‘Make sure this is the right time to be doing this.’”

Last season, Jeremy’s diary was pushed to busting point following the release of Deeper, an awe-inspiring,snowodysseyofafilmthatcaught him hiking off track, without the aid of gas-guzzling helis, in search of the hidden corners of the globe. After months on the premiere circuit - telling and re-telling the film’s backstory - he figured he’d be ready for a break. But when a new season of flakes began to fall, he soon remembered that the expedition never ends.

“I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to do another movie,” says Jeremy, drawing out every syllable. “Then I spent November in the mountains mulling it over and decided that there were still places I wanted to go, so the best way to do that was to do another movie. Deeper was really an experiment to see if I could go to these little-bit-harder-to-reach zones and do some high-end snowboarding. That opened up the world’s mountain ranges to me; places I previously thought of as too hard to get to. So, Further, my next movie, is that next step. It’s more exotic; it’s another step further out there.”

Having reignited the “dream team” that worked on Deeper, Jeremy is now spearheading expeditions to far-flung places like the Japanese Alps and “a small island a couple hundred miles south of the North Pole”. But ‘further’, in this context, is not just about distance - it’s about reaching new heights in your own backyard, too. “I spent a lot of time this winter in the High Sierra, which is kind of an extension of my home range. I’ve been exploring 12-13,000ft peaks in the heart of the range, which are really hard to get to.”

And it’s not just physical challenges that Jeremy is prepared to tackle. This September, he’ll brace a summit of a different ilk - one that’s just as treacherous and hard to overcome. “In September, I’ll go to Capitol Hill with a group of experts to try and help pass this new Clean Air Act,” explains Jeremy, fired up about recent moves to undermine legislation that empowers the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions. “It’s a shame that climate change is a political issue; I never wanted to deal with this politically. But over the years, we’ve met with all these different congressman that are very clear in saying, ‘You need to become organised. For every environmental group we see, we see thirty well-organised, well-funded oil groups.’ They were really strong in saying that if you come together and use your power as an individual, you really can make a difference in this country.”

So, after four years of tireless campaigning, is the message starting to seep through? “Unfortunately, the whole perception of climate change has gone backwards the last couple of years,” says Jeremy. “The oil industry has done a great job of serving misinformation; they’re really good at it and they have a lot of money to put towards it. There are a lot more people today that believe climate change isn’t real. So, we find ourselves having to emphasis the science and explain that climate change is real.”

With quirky campaigns like ‘Hot Planet, Cool Athlete’ - an advocacy programme fronted by big-name pros - Protect Our Winters is refusing to give up. And neither should we. “The general skier and snowboarder needs to continue to educate themselves and support the companies that are taking steps forward,” says Jeremy. “There are really forward-thinking companies out there embracing sustainable technologies and running sleeker businesses that require less energy – because that’s just good business, whether you believe in climate change or not. But until that customer is demanding skis with a recycled base, or what have you, then those changes will happen a lot slower. That’s a big goal of Protect Our Winters; to mobilise like-minded people so that collectively we can have a lot of power and make a difference.”

Jeremy’s focus may be split in all directions, but whether he’s negotiating with senators or his three-year-old kid, the energy for each challenge is fuelled by the same source. “The mountains are where I get grounded,” he explains, “it’s where my inspiration comes; it’s what energises me. So in order to do a good job with Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards, I need to spend a healthy amount of time far out there.”

And with that, a little voice pipes up in the background, singing alongside Pumbaa and Timone

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