Five years ago, Jeremy Jones invited a young Ryland Bell to join him in Alaska. Since that trip, Bell has traveled to the state with Jones nearly every spring. These trips both fuel and reveal Bell’s growth as a rider.
Higher Unplugged looks at the making of the film Higher, which follows the snowboarder Jeremy Jones and the TGR crew as they ascend and ride peaks in Alaska, Wyoming, California and Nepal. Jones is a professional snowboarder who has been named big mountain rider of the year 10 times by Snowboarder magazine.
Jeremy Jones and Ryland Bell first met riding the chairlifts of Squaw Valley when Bell was sixteen. Not long after, he made first descents in Alaska while filming for “Deeper”—the first film in the “Deeper,” “Further,” and “Higher” trilogy, which documents Jones’ efforts to explore and snowboard remote mountains under his own power. Bell made these initial descents despite spending most of the trip in awe. As Jones points out, “He was just so wide-eyed and hardly got on his snowboard.”
Through the years, however, Bell’s riding and perspective have greatly evolved. As a result, Jones teams up with Bell for nearly every trip he makes to Alaska. “It’s a no-brainer—if I’m going to Alaska, Ryland is coming with me,” he explains. Often, these trips take Bell to areas with which he is intimately familiar thanks to spending his summers in Alaska working as a commercial fisherman. And each trip both fuels and reveals the evolution of Bell’s snowboarding.