Terje Haakonsen puts one of his infamous methods on display in Norway while filming for Teton Gravity Research's newest movie, Further. Photo by Dan Milner.
As the sun sets behind a smoky cloudbank, an excitable crowd of snow enthusiasts gathers at the University of Utah’s Fine Arts Auditorium. Fueled by Clif Bars and Nalgene bottles filled with unidentified distilled beverages, we settle into our vintage desk seats and prepare for the night’s entertainment. On the docket is the second piece of big mountain rider Jeremy Jones’ opus, Further. For the past several winters, Jones and his crew of athletes have been traveling the world in search of the most remote mountain ranges. His team is composed of a wide swath of talent that includes Ryland Bell, Lucas Debari, Terje Haakonsen and local hero Forrest Shearer. Prior to the start of the film, Jones greets the crowd and gives a shout-out to Shearer, stating, “He has become one of my favorite riding partners.” The opening sequence of the movie illustrates this quote as the viewer is treated to an onslaught of epic images from a trip to the Japanese Alps. Shearer’s first line takes place on “The Face of No Return” and almost immediately after dropping in, he is caught by his slough and taken for a 1,500 vertical foot ride. Miraculously, he comes up on top and finishes the run.
What sets Jones’ films apart from many others is the logistical planning and research that goes into each segment. Free from the whirling blades of helicopters, the riders gain summits under their own power. A typical trip lasts three weeks and everyone must count on each other to survive the grueling conditions and tedious days stuck in tents. However, the team’s immersion in their environment gives them unique insight into the surrounding terrain and affords them amazing opportunities to explore.
Japan, Austria, Norway and Alaska provide the proving grounds and each adventure builds on the next. During one excursion to an isolated range in northern Norway, Haakonsen says, “These trips are great for escaping the digital world.” In a technologically driven industry where everyone is showing off their travels on Instagram and Facebook, unplugging is rarely thought of. To see the camaraderie that is formed during days deep in the wilds is inspiring. It truly shows the beauty of the untapped natural world and breathes fresh air into the lungs of the sport. The advantages of exploring the nether reaches of the planet also make for incredible cinematic opportunities, and the movie is rife with images of the Aurora Borealis and peaks that no one has ever laid eyes upon.
By the film’s end, the audience was left with a sense of astonishment and respect for the hard work that was put into its production. An authentic snowboarding masterpiece that leads us to question what is next on tap for Jones and his dedicated band of shredders.