Over three nights from February 9-12, splitboarders and environmental activists Jeremy Jones, Max Hammer, Tim Eddy, and photographer/rider Ming Poon visited a narrow stretch of mountains in northeast Nevada to ride deep, untouched powder and talk climate change with locals. They hope the low-impact backcountry journey will help bring awareness to global warming and showcase the importance of protecting public lands.
The range targeted was the Ruby Mountains, a particular string of remote peaks reaching over 11,000 vertical feet, an area some call “the most beautiful place in Nevada.” Instead of staying in hotels, they followed the ethos of Jones’s environmental advocacy group Protect Our Winters (POW). To save on fossil fuel use, he and his team hiked into the backcountry and spent four days camping. The expedition was self-supported, and they carried in and carried out all their gear. Camping allowed them to access more remote terrain and stay out for sunset in the mountains. “The trip was wonderful,” Jones said. “Nice to get some winter. We’ve been high and dry in [Truckee, Calif.]. The snow up there was proper mid-winter.”
Jones says today he’s focusing more on exploring mountains within a few hours of his home, doing longer trips but less of them annually. Exploring areas in his backyard keeps his carbon footprint down while keeping exploration high. “If I’m doing that,” he says, “I’m at least breaking ground in new ways and not going across the world.”
The goal of the trip was three-fold. In addition to backcountry riding and kicking off filming for the upcoming film Purple Mountains, Jones and his team with POW were there to talk with locals about climate change. Purple Mountains is in its beginning stages. POW focuses on climate solutions on a local, national and legislative level, and it aims to spread awareness of the science behind climate change. Since Nevada is a battleground state, Jones believes the more people who are informed and get out and vote, the higher the chance they’ll vote for the environment.
Through his work with POW, Jones is doing what he can to protect the environment, not just for the sake of the planet but for the future of his kids. This way, “between now and the election, I can know I did everything that I could,” he says.
The nonprofit recognizes that the kinds of large-scale change needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions must be backed on the government level. Knowing this, POW and the POW Action Fund aim to bring climate advocacy scores of politicians to the public so they can make informed decisions about them being climate deniers or advocates.
Poon, who works with Jones on many of his trips, noted the additional goal of bringing attention to these obscure mountains. “These areas can attract tourism in green and sustainable ways: It could be a mountain biking mecca; it has amazing climbing, skiing, touring,” he said. “That’s all in these mountains. Here mining is huge, and they think it’s life. What if tourism and clean energy replaced those mining jobs? Nevada can power the country if it supports solar.”
He continued that, while there, “We shot and filmed a bunch of lines and talked with as many people as we could. We try not to talk too much politics and focus on creating common ground.” Poon said that conversations established shared priorities, where all parties could agree that they loved the area and thought it worth protecting. “If you set up new, and improve existing, access to public lands and all there is to offer, more people will come.”
Bridging that common ground to the topic of climate change, however—pointing to the obvious declines in the snowpack—was another challenge.
“Some people knew us and what we’re all about,” Poon said, “other people would avoid the topic of climate change. They would say they see changes in the snow, but may not agree with the science.”
Poon, who is expecting his first child this summer, shares Jones’s point of view. “I’m about to have a kid, so more than ever; I want to do more for my son’s future.
“That’s why we need leaders that believe in climate science.”
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