On Saturday, legendary snowboarder and Adventurer of the Year Jeremy Jones will premiere Higher: The Final Chapter on his home turf in Squaw Valley, California. Following up on his previous films Deeper and Further, this time Jeremy shares his own personal story and his evolving relationship with risk. Here the ten-time Big-Mountain Rider of the Year and founder of Protect Our Winters answers our questions.
Adventure: This film is very personal for you. It’s very much your own story about your evolving relationship with risk and adventure. Was it hard to tell the personal story in addition to the adventure story?
Jeremy Jones: Yes, it was, but at this point I feel like it was a missing point. I really tried to answer the question of why I do it.
A: Your brothers were the directors of this film—and they are legendary themselves. Was the family aspect a significant aid in telling your own personal story?
JJ: It has been amazing to work this close with my brothers on the film. They lived the story as well so it helped having their perspective on everything we have been through.
A: Do you take the title Higher to refer to more than just elevation?
JJ: There is a focus on bigger peaks in this movie, but that’s because of where I’m at with my snowboarding right now. Really any one of the films in the trilogy could have been called “deeper,” “further,” or “higher.” That really embodies my quest in life as a person and a snowboarder.
A: When your son flat our says he doesn’t want you to go … wow, that’s tough. How do you come to terms with that kind of sentiment from your kids?
JJ: One of the hardest things I do is saying bye to my family. It’s a real conflict that I fight with and felt like it had to be in the film. However, when I shot that clip I wasn’t thinking it would go in the film. I was shooting it so I had footage to watch while on my trip. Leaving is the hardest part but when I get in the mountains it feels like I am in the perfect place doing what I am supposed to be doing.
A: You were good friends with Shane McConkey. How did the events of his life influence yours?
JJ: The loss of Shane had a significant effect on me. Being very close to his wife and daughter, I see on a regular basis what it means to not come home.
A: For years, you have been talking about your changing relationship with the big mountains. Was it hard to be a leader in a discussion that hadn’t really started yet?
JJ: I am fine with explaining my emotions, risk management, and how I break down lines. But I am careful to not come off as someone who has it all figured out. I have lost friends in situations that I could have easily been in myself. I still make mistakes and am always trying to gain as much mountain knowledge as possible.
A: We published an image from Nepal of the incredible descent above 20,000 feet—just mind-blowing. How did that line, and that expedition, fit into your mindset about risk?
JJ: On that trip I was out of my comfort zone and in a very foreign land. Altitude has an effect on your mind and body and adds intensity to the situation. But at the end of the day my risk profile is always the same. If something is not right, I pull the plug. Not forcing the issue is the key and on all these trips I really focus on getting in the right headspace to make the right calls.
A: You are also a leader in the discussion about climate change and snowsports. Has your organization Protect Our Winters had some good victories recently? What can we do to help?
JJ: The fact that President Obama is focused on enforcing the EPA’s right to regulate carbon emissions is very important and could lead to a significant change to our CO2 output. This single thing could be a game changer. We are also about to release a film called Momenta which is focused on stopping coal exports from the Powder River Basin to China. This is a winnable battle that would have major impacts on future coal exports. The number one thing Protect Our Winters needs is people to become members. The bigger our voice the more effective we can be in fighting climate change.
A: What are you up to this summer?
JJ: Spending time with my family and editing Higher!
A: How old are your kids now? Do they like to snowboard?
JJ: My daughter, who is nine, snowboards, and my son, who is six, skis. Some of my best days last year were with them.