Three Questions With Cody Townsend

As you are probably aware if you have been following our feed (or Cody’s), Cody is on a mad dash to ski all fifty of the epic descents from Chris Davenport’s book, Fifty Classic Ski Descents Of North America. This winter, he knocked off a few classics such as Mt. Joffre, The Grand Teton, and Pontoon Peak in Alaska to name a few—but there are plenty of challenges ahead. We sat down with Cody for a quick chat to see what’s surprised him most, what scares him most, and what he’s looking forward to. —ML

ML :Which specific objective were you most concerned about when this project started/ what did you think would present the greatest challenge, and has that changed?


For specific objectives, the three cruxes to me are University Peak in Alaska, the Mira Face on Mount St. Elias and the North Face of Mt. Robson, none of which I’ve attempted yet. While those individually are the greatest single challenges, to me, the biggest challenge is in regard to the project as a whole. I’ve gone into this with a mindset to specifically try to avoid getting in a “check list” mentality because if I start to look at the project as a whole, each line simply as a number, then I’ll start to miss the individual dangers on each line. A strong majority of the lines are serious in nature, have plenty of objective hazards and present a ton of difficulty and danger individually. I have to work to stay focused on each line to stay safe and not get complacent throughout.


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The North Face Of Mt. Robson, only skiied three times, will be one of Townsend’s biggest challenges


ML :Which objective surprised you the most with it’s complexity/difficulty to complete? Which one was surprisingly smooth/easy?
For this season, I’d say Mt. Currie was one of the most complex and difficult yet. That doesn’t mean it’s the hardest line to climb and ski, but with the conditions we had, the route we took and the weather that day, it was surprisingly a suffer fest. But that could be just the mentality going into it. Some of the lines I knew were gonna be hard, scary and complex, like the Grand Teton, some I was surprised by, like Joffre Peak. As far as smooth and easy goes, I think that’s hard to judge. The two I did in Utah were quite straightforward and non-complex, but I knew that beforehand so they lived up to the hype. One I thought would be far more gnarly and difficult that was surprisingly straightforward was North Maroon in Colorado. That’s not to say it’s an easy line by any means. But the pictures of it make it look super duper gnarly and it didn’t seem as much when riding down. Granted, we had perfect stable pow so skiing a couple thousand foot face over hundreds of feet of cliffs and exposure wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.


ML: Which one are you most terrified/worried about riding, and which one are you most excited for?
Personally, University is the one that gives me the most willies. It’s gigantic, steep and gnarly. I don’t think that one is going to underdeliver from the hype by any means. It’s only been skied twice ever in almost 20 years, so I’m gonna need luck, the most fitness I’ve ever had in my life and a strong team to pull that one off. As far as which one I’m the most excited by, man, that’s a hard one. There is so many lines left that I can’t wait to go ski. From easy ones like Tuckerman’s Ravine to super burly ones like Split Couloir on Split Mountain, I’m pretty excited by the challenge, difficulties and experience that each line brings.

Thanks Cody! We can’t wait to follow you continuing to knock em’ down. –ML