Going Further with Jeremy Jones

Comments by Jonathan Glass/

After two years of shredding around the world, Jeremy Jones is ready to tell his second story in the Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy. With a full production crew and some of the best riders in the world, Jeremy has once again set the bar high in the world of snowboarding.

We caught up with him after a recent trip to test out new boards in South America with Jones Snowboards team rider Forrest Shearer.

Watch the trailer here.

For the whole Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy, why focus on a two year film project instead of a one year like most snowboard production companies?

For starters, it takes us so long to get footage because we hike everything we ride and two years makes it a lot easier for planning. Each trip needs to be a month long because there are so many factors at play. And since we are going to places we’ve never been before, we need to take the time to make sure the snow is safe, hike the line and get the shot. So we need every bit of two years to make a movie.

Comparing Deeper to Further, what difference can we expect to see from the first movie to the second?

From my perspective, with Deeper I went to these ranges I’ve been to before and explored new ridges or zones. With Further I went to places I knew nothing about and had never been to; places with snow conditions we didn’t know anything about. So from a riding perspective that’s the biggest thing.

From a production perspective we shot Deeper with just a single cameraman, while with Further we were much more dialed and well thought out. It’s more of a complete story telling with a higher level of production.

What was the biggest challenge filming for further?

Starting from ground zero where you’re trying to find the movie-worthy lines is a huge challenge. Then figuring out the snow conditions in order to safely ride each line. Getting the right window and having everything line up so that the snow is safe, we are standing on top of the right line at the right time of day and the cameramen are in the right spot is logistically really challenging.

Looking back at all these trips we were really fortunate with the conditions. But the stars only align and everything only comes together about three times a trip. So for Further, each location only had three lines and those lines don’t go down until like day 21 or 24 of the trip.

That’s a lot of time and a lot of work.

That’s why the tag line of Further is “The Journey is the Reward.” If a good day is defined by if you got a good shot or not for the film, you’ll end up driving yourself nuts; 98% of the time we go out all day, bust our asses and come home empty handed.

Jeremy Jones in Austria | Photo: Chris Figenshau

If you can remember, what was the sketchiest situation you or your crew found yourselves in while filming?

Well yeah, you never forget the sketchy situations. One fall in Austria we had an avalanche sweep two riders off a face. Now if we were snowboarding down and broke that off it would have been a non-factor. But when you’re on foot you can’t get out of the stuff, even if the avalanche is only about four picnic tables deep. Now the terrain was what I call “clean terrain,” meaning we were in a position were we could take a fall. We were fine in the end but it’s a scary moment when you look back and the riders you were hiking with for three hours are no longer there. It’s a scary moment for sure.

Did the lack of snow in the U.S. last year affect filming for Further or did you find yourselves going to where the snow was?

Well I had some goals in the Sierras that I wanted to hit, but those ended getting canceled. My back up plan in Eastern Europe that I watched all year was canceled as well, but I had known about this area in Austria that is Europe’s biggest wilderness area. It’s normally known for shitty snow and bad avy conditions, but this year there was tons of snow and relatively safe snow packs.

So heading in to winter I’ll normally monitor three spots and end up picking the one with the best snow and the safest snow pack.

Now you speak a lot about going to places with maritime snow packs. What are the differences between those and other snow packs that attract you?

With the mountain ranges that are close to the ocean there’s more moisture in the snow and it sticks to the mountains better, which makes it less likely to avalanche. Now the flipside to that would be a place like the Rocky Mountains of Colorado up into Canada where the snowpack is really dry with some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions in the world.

So with Further it’s not by chance that three out of four places we went were a maritime snowpack. And then there’s Austria, one of those places that, depending on the winter, can have a super dangerous snowpack or more of maritime snowpack in which it was this winter.

How about gear, you must have a ton of it for a month long trip? How much do you bring out with you and how do you get it all out there?

Well each location is a little bit different. The Arctic for example has about 80% more snowmobiles than cars there and only ten miles of roads for those cars. They call the snowmobiles snow scooters which are these real beefy, geared down sleds that are like pickup trucks. They attach huge trailers to them making the weight a non-issue; then they drop us off about 180km north of the airport. It’s virtually car camping which is pretty damn plush [laughs]. Same thing in Alaska, but they drop us off in a plane which is also pretty damn plush.

Then there’s Japan and Austria where you have to carry your gear into the mountains, and weight becomes a huge concern. You have to be real selective about what you bring which makes it pretty hard.

Jeremy Jones and Ryland Bell | Photo: Jeff Hawe

What was your go to setup while filming for Further?

Well I rode my Solution 161 for most of the trips, which is my ride anything board. In Japan I rode a hovercraft 156, which is a Japan inspired powder board. Those were pretty much the two boards I rode for the film.

We did have a couple lines in Austria were I rode a 161 flagship but about 99% of the film was shot on splitboards and Karakoram bindings.

How have the advancements in splitboard construction and technology help you achieve what you set out to do with Deeper and Further?

Splitboards have been a total game changer and without the recent advances, Deeper and Further wouldn’t be the movies they are today. The biggest factor is that we are riding lighter boards and more efficient binding setups which make the boards ride similar to a traditional board.

How has your involvement with POW affected the Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy?

Well with all aspects of my life I continue to try and reduce my impact on the environment and that includes snowboarding. But that’s not my whole motivation with hiking these lines on foot.

More of the reason I’m doing it is because that’s where the un-ridden terrain is; you can’t access these lines with snowmobiles or helicopters. The fulfillment I get when I hike these lines is far greater than when I get dropped off in a helicopter. The more I put into a line the bigger the high I get which is first and foremost for me. I just keep chasing that high you get when you first link up turns and it’s been clear to me that I achieve that hiking the lines rather than powering to them.

Jeremy Jones and Terje Haakonsen | Photo: Dan Milner

What would be your most memorable moment of the past two years?

Every trip I had was really memorable, but if I had to pick one it would be when we were up at the North Pole. We were about 20 days into the trip I found myself on top of this line that I had been scoping for 20 days; it was the whole reason we were camping there. So I was on top of this line with perfect snow at midnight looking down at an Alaskan-type face with perfect snow next to the North Pole. It far surpassed any expectation I had ever had going on that trip.

You were on that trip with Terje right?

Oh yeah, and looking over and having Terje on the mountain with me was incredible. I had first met him on his first trip to the U.S. at about the age of 14. I’ve been a huge fan ever since but never snowboarded with him. Then to have him show up on this trip and to witness his level of riding and how quickly he evolved – he never had crampons, he’d never been on a splitboard or used an ice axe – really showed me how incredible an athlete he is.

I’ve been fortunate to ride with some amazing snowboarders and see them do incredible things. But to see the perfection of Terje everytime he drops into a line is something I’ve never seen before in snowboarding, especially in an environment he is totally foreign to.

When it’s all said and done what do you expect to achieve with the Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy?

I guess my motivations are still pretty similar as they with Deeper: motivating people to get into the mountains and showing that world-class freeriding can be done for free and that it doesn’t require helicopters, snowmobiles and chairlifts. If you set your life up around it you can go and ride the best lines in the world.

You put yourself in a lot of dangerous situations and by the time Higher will be coming out you’ll be almost 40. Do you think you’ll retire or finish snowboarding then?

As with when I did Deeper, I wasn’t sure I was going to do Further, and the same goes for Higher. I’ve been so consumed and wrapped up with Further and put everything I had into this thing. As of now I need to digest Further and kind of evaluate where I’m at after this film before I dive into Higher. But yeah, I’d say if I end up doing Higher I couldn’t imagine myself diving into another film project after that.