Meet the Explorer: Jeremy Jensen

Skier | Podcaster | Entrepreneur

If I look back in my electronic records (Instagram DMs), I can see that Jeremy and I met just about a year ago, August 2018. I was intrigued by his profile content, a mix of business and adventure. I wanted to see what he was up to and we hopped on a phone call. After the call my eyes opened to the possibilities to be had in the outdoor space, but also how to do it the right way. Ever since, we have stayed in contact and I have been able to get both sound mentorship and ideas for future growth of my professional/personal goals. I am happy to have a friend like Jeremey and I am excited to see what is in store for the future. Enough of what I have to say, take it away, Jeremy!

My name is Jeremy Jensen, based in Boulder, Colorado. I am a big outdoor guy: skier, mountain biker and river rafter. A couple years ago I came from the corporate space and wanted to build a more intentional lifestyle around the things I wanted to do. So I started a podcast and it is called the Adventurepreneur Playbook and that has grown and I have been very grateful to have good guests and have been able to learn a lot. I also run a company called Outwild Co. which is basically an event series, a community, and a resource hub for people trying to build more intentional lifestyles around their passion for adventure and the outdoors. Those are the two main projects I have going on, but I also do a handful of kind of random things.

I am really big into what they call ‘flow states’. Think when you feel your best and perform your best, the most optimal experiences that we have where we are either, you know, carving down a mountain on skis or having a deep very compelling conversation with a friend, or going out on a hot date, you name it. Sort of all these peak experiences that we have. I got more into the neuroscience of it and doing more work in that area with workshops, speaking engagements, doing some writing and online content around that too so those are kind of my main areas of focus. For motor about me, an extended biography can be found here!

What do you do for a living, how did you end up in that field? 

I started out in my early 20s as a ski bum traveling the world spending most of my 20s living out of a backpack which is great, but I kind of just woke up one day feeling like I was a little unfulfilled and that there had to be a little more and I wanted to get myself into something new. Through my travels I saw a need or deeper empathy towards some underprivileged communities globally. I knew I was always passionate about entrepreneurship and that I wanted to dive in and figure out how you could solve some of these problems out there, these big hairy problems, social, environmental and otherwise, through entrepreneurship. Kind of between trips abroad I would work in the outdoor industry, wait tables and bar tend and after that I decided I wanted to go to business school. I did just that, moved to Washington D.C. and got an MBA and also an MA in social entrepreneurship. Again, trying to deal with this piece of how do you help people help themselves through entrepreneurship. I completed those steps and ended up with some student loans and thought I better do something about it. Being curious about the corporate world and knew I could learn a lot: I entered the corporate world as a management consultant. I did that for six years and learned a ton and worked with some of the smartest, brightest, most motivated people I will probably ever come across and it was a fantastic experience, but I always knew that out wasn’t for me and that I would be exiting at some point even when I started. So I decided to cut those ties and actually just did this, this last year. I started to formulate a path and try to figure out how I take action while still maintaining a job and started to do this through the podcast. I am originally from the Salt Lake City area, and I knew I wanted to get back out into the mountain West so I quit my corporate job and moved to Boulder, CO and I am just making a go at the various businesses that I just discussed.

I have always struggled to work for somebody else to be completely honest. Whether its a little bit of hubris or just me thinking I could do it differently, I have always had that narrative in the back of my head. Typically, when someone is managing me I feel like I could do a better job and I would rather be guiding my own path; so it is incredibly liberating and I love my schedule now. I work on my own terms and its great, definitely pretty pumped for where I am.

When did you first start enjoying the outdoors?

I think it has kind of always been there for me, you know, we get really spoiled in Salt Lake City. Arguably some of the best access to big mountains, alpine environment type mountains in SLC, in literally 20 minutes you can be in 11,000′ peaks and then of course down to the South you have all of the big National Parks and the red rock…Moab, Arches, and Zion and stuff like that. So it is a pretty lucky place to grow up from that standpoint, so it is always been there for me, but where I really came into a deeper appreciation and also more emphasis on the outdoors and being outside was late Jr/High school time. I started playing around with mountain bikes and I had skied a fair amount up to that point and kind of doubled down on those things and started racing mountain bikes a little bit. I also taught skiing in high school and early college really just staring to explore and travel and I was using the outdoors as a way that I wanted to choose to go. I did a trip to Nepal when I was 18 years old and that was really, really cool! To be in the highest range in the world and even from a cultural standpoint also really a rich experience. So yeah, the outdoors have been a pretty big part of my life and actually what’s interesting is I started to become a little disillusioned by the time I was about 25 or so, and there is a hell of a lot more to life than talking about your last powder day or that climb that you did yesterday or whatever. I kind of just wanted more, this was my need for travel, and I think travel scratched that itch. I was in Argentina for a few years and a lot of people in Buenos Aires have never even been skiing they don’t really even know what to is and certainly haven’t been rock climbing or mountain biking. So that was really a key time in my life and I think it actually set me up well to step away from the outdoor community and the outdoor-centric life because it was everything to me. It was my job, my hobbies, in my conversations, it was my friends…everything. Stepping away from that for a few years and moving to D.C. and moving abroad was really refreshing. It made me realize later on that I wanted to come back to that but to also have a more balanced approach. This ties into the idea of Urban exploring as we were discussing. I think adventure is everywhere you look and its a mindset it is not necessarily what you do on the weekend. Are you open to trying new things, new experiences? Being outside…is it going to a park and just hanging out in the sun and playing Frisbee. In my opinion, that is just as much adventure as bagging your first 14er, it is all relative. I really subscribe to that position.

What is your favorite place to explore? 

There are a ton of them, I have been to a lot of places and been fortunate. I think one that I have a soft spot for would be Latin America. I think Argentina is amazing, the South of Argentina is so beautiful. but one of the biggest surprises to me was Columbia. The Northern part of Columbia is this vast rain forest and you are out on the Caribbean there, and unfortunately a lot of people are scared off from Columbia still. I found the culture to be very rich, the people to be super warm and some really cool adventure opportunities.

How many of the 50 United States have you visited? Favorite?

I am not a huge counter guy. Seems like everyone knows how many ski days they have a year, countries they have visited, this and that…you know, I don’t know but there are few I have not been too. There are a few in the sort of like South East/Central South I guess it would be. I don’t think I have been to Mississippi, I have been to Alabama, so I would say 40+. I mean Utah is kickass, there is no two ways about it and I know this is a little cliche but I think California has got to be my favorite. There is literally so much, every aspect you could ever want. A little cooler in the North, its cool, Liberal, the Redwoods and Yosemite and then you go down south and have some of the most pleasant weather in the world. Yeah its a little overpopulated, but there is great surfing and small sleepy towns in So Cal that are really fun. Maybe it’s because I was just there. But I also did a motorcycle tour down highway 1 last year, that was such a cool experience. There are all these little sleeper towns, you think all of California is overpopulated but it’s actually not at all. Yeah I think California is definitely my favorite state, it checks all of the boxes.

How many countries, where? 

Yeah, thats a good question…I should probably count. I don’t know, maybe 50, 60, 70, something in that ballpark. I was very fortunate to spend much of my Twenties sort of vagabonding and had a wanderlust for sure.

Best hike you have ever had? 

Probably my favorite hike I have ever done was in Nepal. A lot of people go to Everest base camp and its great, well nowadays a lot people can climb Everest. Most people when they go to Everest base camp fly to Kathmandu and then you take a helicopter to a town called Lukla. I kind of had a crazy mindset, and thats a few hour flight, and instead of me doing that I ended up hiking for 28 days through from Kathmandu to Lukla and because no one does that and most people fly. It was the most amazing experience because we went through towns where you are so far remote in the backcountry of Nepal that we ran into tiny villages where they have never seen white people, maybe a handful of white people, granted this in in 1998 but still, I’m sure it is still kind of that way. I think that from a holistic point of view, amazing mountains, crazy backcountry, awesome people and culture. This is one of my highlights for sure.

Essential items for summer hikes/winter hikes in your opinion.

It depends on the type of trip. To be honest I do a lot of hiking in Boulder, actually mostly trail running. That type of outing is 2-3 hours and I am a big fan of just a good water reservoir/bladder Camelbak type thing and a super small pack, just the bare essentials. Some snacks, I am a big snacker and maybe a good camera, sometimes the GoPro. Also a good outer layer jacket or something similar, and that is about it.

As far as summer bigger trips, the backpacking type trips have a different list for sure. Something I have been getting into recently is pack rafting. Which is kind of a cool way to blend backpacking and river running. It is great, they are literally making such good gear now that you can pack these inflatable boats small enough and light enough that you can do a 5-day backpacking trip in Eastern Utah. Having a river that only runs a few weeks out of the year and hitting the river, get off and do a 10-mile hike to the next section of river and do a big multi day trip. It is still a backpacking trip and fairly minimalist so you want a light weight sleeping pad and bag, cooking utensils that are very light.

In the winter I don’t do a whole lot of hiking. I am mostly back country skiing in the winter, I consider that my hiking. Thats your standard gear: an avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, some food and water. Some base clothing for when you get up to the peak.

Most comical hike/adventure story? 

The first one that comes to mind: three or four years ago we were with a group of nine or ten friends on a nine day river rafting trip on desolation canyon which is on the green river in Utah at the Colorado border. Anyways, long story short, that area of the world basically has 345 days of pure sun a year. It hardly ever rains, one of the driest places in the world. We get the river permit, the trip squared away thinking we would have great weather not thinking twice about it. Sure enough, it was beautiful the day we put in, from that evening to the day we took out it just poured like a dog every single day. It was cold, rainy and nasty and it was just miserable. We were all soaked and there was no way getting around it. We were at night of day seven into morning of day eight and we were all so fed up, wet, cold and grumpy. Our food was rotting because you have to keep it on dry ice to have it last that long. We were out of the good food and basically had borderline nasty hot dogs, burgers and bacon left and we fried up this big dinner and we all got really drunk on Jameson. We tried to go to bed but we couldn’t because wouldn’t you know, its rainy and windy all night long. So there is a group of us up at 4 AM, and because it was rainy these huge caterpillars, big fuck-off caterpillars everywhere, just crawling all over, probably 3-4 inches long by a half-inch. Just big, hairy caterpillars. We were so frustrated, hungover, wet and miserable and just wanted to get off this river. My friend looks over and says “fuck it’ and grabs a caterpillar and grabs a shot of whiskey and takes the caterpillar and bites into it and starts eating, chasing it with a shot of whiskey. We were all like what is he doing?! But then we were like fuck it, we chomped on caterpillars and drank whiskey on our last day. So that is kinda funny!

Scariest hike/adventure story?

There was one kind of recently that fit the bill. This last Spring we were back country skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is about two hours from my house in Colorado. We were skiing a couloir called dragons tail, a classic line, pretty steep. We had been planning this for months, we got up super early and started hiking in the dark and basically had the most gnarly day I can remember in a long time. What happened is that we were in crampons and ice axes, it was a pretty technical route up to this couloir. We triggered an avalanche, well actually that avalanche in Dragon’s tail was naturally triggered and came down. Someone yelled avalanche, so I looked up and sure enough this big wall of snow was coming down at us. I was lucky enough to get out of the way and kind of dive and dig in with my ice axes, but two of my buddies got swept away and took a 150′ ride and got buried up to their chest. It was pretty scary and in its own right would have been a crazy day, so we said screw this, this is not good snow conditions so we started to head back. We had a couple beers and debriefed and on our way out we crossed this lake and looked back and I guess there were a couple guys that saw the avalanche were where we were and decided to go up to the couloir next to us. We heard this big rumbling and saw this huge avalanche, probably 3-4 times larger than the one we triggered just barreling down the mountain. We looked at each other like ‘oh shit’ and sprinted on our skis back across the lake to them but it was a long ways, several hundred yards or so. Once we got on site we had to do a full search for burials because we thought there were five people buried. We thought we had a real big problem on our hands and it turns out, I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how this is possible, but the guy that triggered it took an 1800′ ride and somehow was okay. He came out of that unscathed, but he had a bug bruise on his ass. It was just the craziest story I had ever heard! There were 4 guys below him and we thought they were buried. Turns out they came skiing down half an hour later, by pure coincidence, they had been tucked under a cliff when the avalanche came and it went over the cliff leaving them untouched. Just a really scary day, total ass-pucker day that makes you really humble and to recheck everything about skiing the back country, but it all turned out okay. We ended up on the news and it was a big deal with the whole search and rescue mission.

Upcoming trips planned?

A couple coming up, just domestic trips and I guess one international trip. I am heading to Jackson this week and then Tahoe later that week. Hanging out with some Outwild folks for a little reunion and interviewing Cody Townsend while we are there. Then I will be in Guatemala for a buddy’s wedding in September.

Favorite outdoors gear/lifestyle companies? Any local? 

A couple companies that come to mind, so one that is local to me would be Topo-Designs. We have a really good partnership with them for Outwild and get a lot of great gear from them which is awesome and is included in our swag bags for Outwild events. I just love their stuff, they are based in Denver and they have a store here in Boulder. I know the staff out there and they are fantastic. I think Patagonia is such a great leader from a brand perspective. Not necessarily their gear but what they are doing. They are involved in so many cool projects whether it is on the environmental side or more of the social side too. I just really admire the work they do and the things they are involved in.

What does conservation mean to you? 

Thank you for asking, I think this is super important. To me, it all starts with an appreciation for wild spaces. I think it is this whole thing that goes beyond the conservation and environmental aspect, it is empathy. How many people do you know that have a closed mind about XYZ social issue, or some kind of bias against a race of orientation or whatever it is. Because they do not know anybody like that, and since they do not know anyone like that they cannot relate to it and they are scared of ‘the other’. It is the same with conservation, it is having empathy for wild spaces. That is the biggest thing I suggest for people? Try and take a second and take a break from your computer and smartphone and see what you see, there is so much beauty in the natural world. Take a second to appreciate that, and to know it is under threat and that we are in an unprecedented time of human history where things are a little dire for us as a human species impacting how the globe functions. Our interaction with the globe is all of the sudden much different than it used to be. We have a real responsibility to act responsibly and so that is the beginning, giving people empathy and an entry point into the outdoors and to these natural spaces and give them an appreciation of these places. This is a good view of conservation on a widespread level. Beyond that, if you want to get more involved there are endless ways to do that. I think there are a few organizations that do fantastic work, I think some organizations are better than others. One in particular that does a great job is Protect Our Winters. They are not just about protecting skiing or snowboarding, it is a very robust climate change advocacy organization. It is very well run, and I know some people there, some board members there and I think they do a fantastic job. They have on their website (mention them and their website here – add a operate about us section at bottom of blog), there is a tab called how to get invoiced and literally 15 ways step-by-step of how you can get involved. Whether it is writing to your congressman, going to a rally, or having a conversation with someone that does not have the same views as you. There are all these tangible easy ways to get involved. So this is the first place I would send people.

Logo

Protect Our Winters (POW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Founded by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones in 2007, POW turns passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. POW leads a community of athletes, thought pioneers and forward-thinking business leaders to affect systemic political solutions to climate change.

POW Blog

What can we do to make sure our parks and wild lands stay clean and pure forever? 

Advocacy. You can choose to get involved as we spoke about in the last response and then also take measures like having a smaller carbon footprint, flying less, recycle, reduce, reuse and all the things. There are also a lot of ways that help that people do not necessarily think about and they just don’t know how to get involved. There are always battles from a legislative standpoint, so getting involved in those and putting pressure on our politicians is very effective. Call their senator, or representative and leave those messages with their staff. That really goes a long way and the more people that do it the more effective it is.

Below are a few notable conservationists and lovers of wild spaces. They do everything they can to keep these lands clean and pure, hoping to have them for generations to come as we enjoy them today.

Brody Leven – forest tourist.
brodylevon.com

Katie Boue – outdoor advocate
✖️ public lands + sustainability
🏜cuban-american
🐶 spaghetti’s mama

Jeremy Jones – POW founder and professional snowboarder
Jones Snowboards
Protect Our Winters

Cody Hicks – Family+Adventure+Coach
founder of Living Your Adventure, @theexchangeforum
collaborating on great projects @coldbrewbar & @millennialwhisperer
livingyouradventure.com

Jeremy, I cannot thank you enough for your time on the phone and countless interactions helping me grow and assisting with this awesome interview. Your content was great and I learned a whole lot and hope others do as well. Stay in touch and hope to see you in the Fall!

I hope you really dug into the content and got something out of it. What stuck with you from what Jeremy said? I hope this inspires you to get outside and have empathy for our wild spaces. Please leave your thoughts below.

One thought on “Meet the Explorer: Jeremy Jensen

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