The Core: Jones has infused new energy into snowboarding by heading deep into the backcountry. Photo: Seth Lightcap
Jeremy Jones laughs and jokes as he waits under a blazing sun for his final, somewhat unusual, snowboard run of the season. It’s July 3, and he is competing in Squaw Valley’s annual pond skimming contest. Jones lives in nearby Truckee, Calif., on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore and has participated in Squaw’s summertime splash-fest many times. The goofy event, which features wild costumes and embarrassing wipeouts, is a way for Jones to unwind with friends after a long season of traveling to the world’s most extreme snowboarding locations. Jones would have no problem clearing the pond, but this year he plans to tank. “I’m going to spray the crowd and take a dunk. I’m sweating and need a swim.”
It is a rare occasion when Jones can enjoy wiping out on his board. Jones is an eight-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year who has performed in more than 50 snowboard movies. His career highlight reel includes some of the sickest, most pucker-inducing descents ever filmed. His helicopter-assisted runs down 70-degree spines in Alaska elevated big mountain snowboarding to new heights. Now 36, an age when adrenaline athletes typically back off the throttle, Jones is charting a new, more eco-friendly course for his career.
Last winter, his movie “Deeper” reimagined the snowboard movie, a tired genre of plot-less action sequences and tedious park and pipe big airs spliced together with hero music. He did this by using no helicopters, instead relying on splitboards, crampons, ice axes, ropes, harnesses and a butt-load of ballsiness. Operating from remote base camps, Jones and his team climbed every peak they rode, from Antarctica to Alaska to the Alps. “Deeper” was widely praised for a documentary style that not only showcased some of Jones’ most daring descents, but also showed the risks, and drama, of getting up mountains on foot. Helicopters, after all, are ambulances when things go wrong.
Jones is now halfway through filming his follow-up, “Further,” produced by Teton Gravity Research (Jones is the brother of TGR founders Todd and Steve Jones). A webisode and trailer were released this fall in advance of the film’s debut in late 2012 – view the trailer here. “Further” continues the adventure travel narrative, with Jones again eschewing choppers in favor of daring human-powered ascents. “With ‘Deeper’ I went deeper into the mountains than I ever had before. With ‘Further’ I’m going even further afield and ticking off destinations I’ve always wanted to hit.”