SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Jeremy Jones is one of the top snowboarders in the world. He’s powered his career to new levels without the use of helicopters or snowmobiles in some of the gnarliest terrain on earth.
And come Jan. 16, the Truckee-based Jones might also become National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year.
For the past eight years, National Geographic has picked a cadre of adventurers to vie for the exclusive title of People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. The company selects contestants based on their achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism and adventure sports.
Jones, 37, joins adventure innovators like supersonic BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner, paraplegic skier Josh Dueck and Austrian climber David Lama this year, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/S5R8Vd ).
“I was very honored. I grew up with the magazine, my family always had a subscription. It was really my first window into adventure,” Jones said.
He recently finished work on his latest Teton Gravity Research film, “Further.” Jones and his crew explored mountain ranges in Japan, Austria, Norway and Alaska on splitboards – a backcountry snowboard that splits into two ski-like parts that can be used to climb slopes with skins.
Human-powered exploration allows athletes and film crews to access ground that would be off-limits to snowmobiles, but it also means enduring pain-inducing ascents and harsh conditions in remote terrain, Markleeville-based cinematographer Chris Edmands said.
It’s not easy to find a film crew that will lug pounds of equipment through the backcountry for days or weeks at a time, but Edmands and his Leeward Cinema team relished the adventure.
“It’s a challenge. My whole life I’ve gotten bored really quickly with things I’ve done. Maybe they’re just too easy,” Edmands said. “It’s fun to get scared and it’s fun to push yourself.”
Edmands met Jones in 2007 when the cinematographer was shooting his human-powered snowboard film, “My Own Two Feet.” Edmands wanted to abandon chairlifts, helicopters and snowmobiles to make a movie that featured professional athletes beyond the confines of traditional snowboard projects.
The next year, Edmands and Jones partnered for the film, “Deeper,” the first installment in the Teton Gravity Research-produced Jeremy Jones trilogy “Deeper,” “Further” and “Higher.” Human-powered exploration remained the core philosophy, Edmands said.
Jones hasn’t limited that philosophy to his snowboarding endeavors. He founded the environmental-protection nonprofit Protect Our Winters in 2007 because he’d witnessed firsthand the impact of climate change on mountain ranges around the world and he wanted to mobilize the winter sports community.
“I’d seen definite change in the mountains and I felt that we really needed to step up our efforts to protect them from climate change,” Jones said.
Riding remote terrain without the aid of machines aligned closely with those efforts, and Jones and Edmands once again hit the slopes last winter to shoot “Further.”
“I’d seen him snowboard in videos for years, but working with him, he’s an incredible athlete and it’s really easy to film him. There aren’t many instances where you have to reshoot because he messes up,” Edmands said.
Edmands said they have not started laying down definitive plans for the making of the last movie, “Higher.” Jones said he’d still like to make the final film in the series, but his current plans leave him closer to home.
“My immediate goal is to get out and spend a bunch of time in the Sierra, my home,” Jones said. “The Sierra continue to blow me away, and it’s why I’ve continued to live in Truckee when I could live anywhere in the world. I didn’t get my full Sierra fix last year.”