Changing the Snowboard Landscape: Jeremy Jones’s ‘Higher’ and bc riding

Over the last 25 years, Jeremy Jones has snowboarded everywhere from Vermont to Alaska. He was once a pioneer of big-mountain freeriding and has become a pioneer of human-powered riding. In 2007, he founded Protect Our Winters, an organization aimed at stopping climate change and three years later, he launched his groundbreaking film, Deeper. This month, he’ll release Higher, the final chapter in the three-part series. This won’t mark the end of exploration for Jones, though, “We have our hands full right now getting Higher out the door,” he says, “but there’s a lot I want to do, exactly how I want to document that, I don’t know.”

Jeremy Jones’ Higher Trailer by Teton Gravity Research on

Backcountry: What makes Higher stand out from Deeper and Further?

Jeremy Jones: It documents descents that possibly are my biggest, most challenging climbs and descents I’ve ever done. That coupled with a thread of the story that touches on how I went from Cape Cod to the Himalayas.

BCM: Since you started this project six years ago, how have your goals as a backcountry snowboarder changed?

JJ: I started the project to document the progression that I wanted to take with snowboarding. With Deeper, I went to ranges that I knew well but had hit the wall on, and I realized that the next step to get past this boundary would be done on foot and most likely require camping. Then, with Further, I went to places I’d never been before. After Deeper I realized that the world’s mountains were open, and it was really exciting. I took that knowledge on the road, and with Higher I focus on bigger lines, and it involves documentation of where my snowboarding began.

BCM: Did you always plan to create three films or did that only come to you after you began splitboarding?

JJ: For a while before Deeper I wanted to take my snowboarding in this direction, but I couldn’t get other film companies to sign on to that. So I realized I had to do my own thing to progress how I wanted. With Deeper, I figured a core group of people would like it, but not everyone. It was really hard to raise the money for that film, so I thought I might be able to do two films.

BCM: What impact do you think your movies have had on the sport?

JJ: Definitely more participants, no question on that, and, with that, better and better gear. If I think back to what we were using when we started Deeper, every facet of the splitboard kit has really improved a ton.

BCM: Where do you see splitboarding going?

JJ: I think we’ll continue to see growth because it’s not that hard to go out and skin up a mountain and snowboard back down. And it’s a really great experience and one that compliments the resort. A ton of my snowboarding is in the backcountry these days, but it’s also reinvigorated me to go to the resort on a quiet, hardpack day.

BCM: Just before you began Deeper, you also founded Protect Our Winters. Why is this fight just as important as getting snowboarders in the backcountry?

JJ: There are a lot of factors, but first and foremost, we [need to] get more people engaged and involved and understanding the stakes. From a Protect Our Winters perspective we need numbers. Right now less than one percent of the companies [in the ski and ride industry] are participating or contributing as part of Protect Our Winters. The goal of Protect Our Winters is to be this place where everyone can unite and then make positive change. By yourself it’s a bit overwhelming, but collectively we could be an extremely powerful group that could really make some significant changes.

BCM: Seven years later, how has POW’s work against climate change evolved?

JJ: I mean, the good news is we had the White House calling us to help with certain efforts that they’re doing. We do have an audience on Capital Hill. Four years ago, you couldn’t mention the word climate change in Washington. Hopefully we’ll pass this ruling where the EPA can regulate our carbon emissions. If that passes it will have a significant impact on our country’s CO2 emissions. It’s moving in the right direction.

BCM: Obviously POW is keeping you pretty busy, but now that the Deeper, Further, Higher series is coming to a close, what’s next for you?

JJ: I need to digest this film, as I did with all of these. But for sure there will be more adventure. The more I do it, the more I love it, the more places I want to take my snowboarding. I’m probably as excited about snowboarding as I have ever been in 25 years. I’ve learned a ton from the films, and I’ll continue to evolve and progress with my snowboarding.

This story first appeared in the October 2014 issue. To read more interviews like this, subscribe here

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