Making smooth changes of direction is what separates the mediocre from the masters. Think Kelly Slater or Ted Ligety. When these guys turn, every part of their body is totally balanced and in the perfect position. The perfect foot, hand and body position to pivot on a dime and suck up any turbulence. The ability to shift gears. To look ahead and know when to slow down, when to zig and not zag, or when to step on the gas and point it. And to do it all with power, grace and style. Not forcing the line but seeing subtleties ahead and charting the most efficient path forward. Having the power to navigating with ease and grace through critical sections.
This dexterity and the ability to look ahead, to set up for the tough sections is not only the crux of these sports but also the crux of climate change. As a society we are all on this big ship together and we know that we are on a course that if left unchanged it will lead to disaster. Even if our experts are wrong, and we avoid the rocks ahead, the ship will still run out of fuel.
To change direction is going to be hard. This ship is running at full steam, engines firing on all cylinders, and hitting record breaking speeds. But our specialists are screaming for us to change course and that the failure to do so will lead to extremely rough seas and eventual disaster.
This disaster will take a few lifetimes to happen. The captain will be long gone, as well as the older generation sipping cocktails on the top deck enjoying the sunset. But as you leave the top deck and descend to the lower floors of the ship the age gets younger and younger. And the kids on the lower decks will become adults and have kids. These yet to be born kids will be born onto a ship that if the course is not changed, will be doomed for destruction. The result of past generations too stuck in their ways, too comfortable and too lazy to change course because it will disrupt their cocktail hour. They will not have to answer to the yet to be born kid why they did not change the course even though they knew the boat was bound for the rocks.
Jeremy and his family out for a rip at his home resort, Squaw Valley. Photo - Hank Devre
We have the solutions to change course, but it will not be easy to move this ship. And we do not have all the answers, those will come along the journey. And with this direction change will come opportunity. As with all change we will have to leave the comforts of “business as usual” and embrace the unknown. The view we have all fallen in love with will be left behind, but there will be more views. And the best views are the ones we have yet to see.
To those who don’t believe our ship is heading for the rocks, you are wrong. Take a look through the periscope, the rocks are in our sight. 99% of the scientist confirm what I am seeing in the mountains. Their predictions are coming true and at a rate faster than was anticipated. I do not have time for the people who do not believe in science. In my line of work, climbing mountains, this stubbornness not to change course, to avoid danger before it happens and to not listen to the experts will get you killed.
It is astonishing to me the difference of winter ten years ago to now. I wish with all my heart it wasn’t so, but as someone who’s life depends on reading the most subtle details of snow textures and weather trends the new norm is far different from the past. We are pushed to higher elevations, but even at these elevations we are seeing dramatic change. The loss of permanent snow on the high peaks have made some of our most classic high elevation lines no longer rideable.
Sunset at a Jones team basecamp in Chile. Photo - Andrew Miller.
My opinion is not extreme. I am not an alarmist, or fear monger. I am not pushing a conspiracy theory. Just ask anyone who coexists with nature of any season or form on a daily basis. As the scientists predicted, our world is getting warmer at an abnormally fast rate and it can be seen in the forests, lakes, rivers, oceans and glaciers I do not write this for the deniers. I have no time for the people who refuse to accept the facts of science. You are unreachable, you are dangerous, and thankfully, you are finally now the minority. As they say in poker, “Your hand is busted.” Thankfully the tide is shifting and we are close to having enough hands on deck to turn the ship. But we have lost precious time to the deniers. We have lost precious time because half of our elected officials do not believe in Climate Change.
I write this for the believers. We need you to utilize your tools as a citizen. We need you to speak up, write letters, and make phone calls because this is where real change needs to happen. And I write this for the Republicans. You are the final piece of the puzzle. We need you to demand better candidates. We need you to be able to vote for the environment and still vote Republican.
And we need the youth. The cold hard facts is that all those people enjoying their twilight years on the top deck, the 70 and up generation, are amazing voters (85% vote). And the younger generation occupying the bottom decks, are horrible voters (50% vote). So naturally the people the elected officials focus on will be long gone when our ship dry docks on the rocks.
As heartbreaking as it is to see rain on the high peaks in winter, I am still an optimist. Change is happening. The price of solar energy has dropped to a rate that’s more affordable then coal, the Chinese are installing renewable energy at alarming rate, and there are Republicans who believe in climate change.
Let’s keep the momentum going, let’s nail this critical direction change.