It was Jeremy Evans’ idea to have the two Jeremys review each other’s books, and we at Moonshine Ink excitedly agreed. The local authors recently published intriguing and magical volumes that are quite different from each other, with snowboarding as their roots. Read on to see their take on each other’s written work.
By Jeremy Evans
The Art of Shralpinism by Jeremy Jones (The Mountaineers Books, October 2022, $29.95)
On a gray late-December day, I steered my vehicle into the parking lot of the Wave Rave, a snowboard shop in Mammoth Lakes. My sole purpose for visiting was to buy The Art of Shralpinism, the recently released book by Truckee pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones. As the cashier ripped the receipt from a machine, he handed me the book and stated with utmost confidence, “Enjoy. There is so much great information in this book. I literally learned something on every page.”
“That seems impossible,” I said to myself. But just as Jones has ridden seemingly impossible lines on big mountains during his snowboarding career, he’s now accomplished the seemingly impossible in his debut book: I did learn something on every page.
Over the course of 277 pages, the book ebbs and flows as part illustrative text, part biography, part how-to guide, part technical guidebook, part anecdotes, and part base camp journal. Yet, despite all the genres this single book encompasses, it provides a fascinating journey into the astute and thoughtful mind of this generation’s most influential snowboarder. In that way, The Art of Shralpinism is not even a book at all. For less than $30, it’s a free-flowing volume that masquerades as a personal conversation with Jeremy Jones.
To gain such insight into his history and his thought process in the mountains, both from a technical standpoint and a decision-making one, this book is required reading for any serious mountain person who spends time in the backcountry. The book serves as both a cautionary tale and an inspiring one, as both a survival guide and a guide to living purposefully, a directory on how to take risks while being humble — a juxtaposition that is difficult to achieve in ever-changing mountain environments.
Jones writes: “This mix of gusto and humility, fearlessness and fear, grit, and sensitivity, requires a deep understanding of who you are as a person at your innermost core, as well as an intimate connection with nature and your partners, plus a deep understanding of the behaviors, characteristics, and subtleties of all things snow. This is the Art of Shralpinism.”
My only gripe is not related to the book’s content. I often found myself flipping pages back and forth between Jones’s writing in the main narrative and various anecdotal stories and journal entries that are packaged in breakout boxes on nearly every page. Yet, these anecdotal stories from other leading athletes are entertaining, as are Jones’s journal entries and his recounting of mountain mishaps throughout his life.
Any disruption from the design and flow of content is more a nuisance than intolerable. In fact, this back-and-forth action lends itself to a better digestion of all the information Jones provides, because I happily read some sections twice.
Beyond Jones’s writing, which beautifully combines folksy jargon, mountain philosophy and a manifesto on avalanches, the real takeaway from this book is: Jeremy Jones loves snowboarding … like, really loves snowboarding.
His talent and accomplishments in the mountains are undeniable and are probably why someone might be attracted to the book in the first place. Being able to read his writing and have a conversation with a snowboarding icon offers tremendous value. But to witness Jeremy Jones transform from athlete to mountain philosopher through this writing, that’s one thing I didn’t expect to learn.
~ Jeremy Evans is a South Lake Tahoe-based author and the men’s and women’s head soccer coach at Lake Tahoe Community College. He’s written See You Tomorrow, In Search of Powder: A Story of America’s Disappearing Ski Bum, and The Battle for Paradise. His books are available wherever books are sold. Visit jeremyevans.org.
By Jeremy Jones
See You Tomorrow
by Jeremy Evans (Falcon/Globe Pequot Press, May 2021, $24.95)
Although I am lover of outdoor/climbing adventure books, I approach any book on skiing and snowboarding with reluctance. This is because the sports are so ingrained in my life, and I find words never really do them justice.
However, when I grabbed this book, I could not put it down. This is due to the subject, Marco Siffredi. Marco is a mystical undercover icon in the freeride world of extreme shralpinism. Purple-haired and pierced, he started ruffling the feathers of Chamonix’s old guard with his punk rock, shred-or-die attitude. His mountain skills backed up the hype, and he started ticking off some of the heaviest lines in the heaviest valley in the world.
He turned the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi — “imagine the Grand Teton with a tram to the top but steeper and laden with glaciers and seracs” — into his personal playground. He treated the Mallory Couloir — “the indigenous Chams people of Vietnam’s ultimate test piece, requiring multiple rappels” — like it was Chute 75 [a run at Palisades Tahoe] riding it multiple times in a day.
What was even more shocking is he was doing this as a teenager. By his early 20s his compass was set on the biggest lines in the world’s biggest range, the Himalaya.
As cavalier as Marco seemed from a distance, he was a Zen master who gave his objectives every ounce of attention and focus he had. After a successful descent of Choy Oy, he was finally ready for the ultimate mountain — Everest.
At age 23, he marched up Everest with apparent ease, a rare westerner who could hold pace with the Sherpa. Dropping into the west face with big, arcing powder turns, he scored the Norton in primo conditions, and it became the first complete snowboard descent of the mountain. Although it is still considered one of the best lines ever ridden on Everest and beyond, it received very little fanfare at the time.
For Marco though, this was just a warmup. This is where the book really kicks into gear as Evans delves deep into Marco’s mindset and motivations. This is the part that struck me the hardest because this is the essence of moving through zero-mistake mountains. To have the ability and stubbornness to push away all of life’s distractions, fight through the “no’s” and become totally laser beamed on your goal while being humble enough to hear the mountains’ whispers when they change from “yes, yes, yes” to “no, no, no.”
Like so many others, the pull of the line was so strong that it became his undoing. He had the holy grail in his grasp; it was in perfect condition and cast a spell on him that led to a series of events that resulted in one of the great mysteries of Mount Everest and the mountain climbing world.
Evans’ ability as a writer matches this incredible tale, and the book goes into overdrive. I was especially drawn to his masterful breakdown of the mental game when he turned what is often a clunky “trip/accident report” into a thriller that had me glued to the book and unable to put it down.
This story is not just for the hardcore Shralpinist, which is why I have gifted it to dozens of people of varying backgrounds. It is full of mystery, love, commitment, lust, and edge-of-the-earth tightrope walking that will grip the reader from the start to finish. One friend was so engrossed by it he literally read it in one sitting, staying up into the early morning hours.
~ Jeremy Jones is a professional snowboarder and founder of Jones Snowboards. In addition to creating and improving his line of boards, Jones works to make films that record his climbing and snowboarding adventures around the world. He lives in Truckee.