Tahoe City, California
You don't have to know anything about backcountry skiing to see that Cody Townsend's lines are some of the most intense. But those who do know agree, dubbing one run "the most insane ski line ever" - in which he straight-lined one of the "gnarliest vertical chutes" in Alaska. Though his career is stacked with accolades, Cody laments only that the ski season is too short. He remains a well-rounded, year-round athlete, is an avid surfer and fly fisherman, and pursues an ever-growing bucket list.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning when you ski?
"Coffee." After coffee, then it's the obligatory weather check and go from there. Most of my life is dictated by weather, so pretty much what I'm doing that day revolves around what's going on up in the sky.
Where is your favourite place to ski?
I'm completely enamoured by the mountains on the west coast of North America - from my home mountain, Squaw Valley, to the vast mountains of British Columbia to the mecca of all things skiing, Alaska.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out.
There are way too many amazing memories formed in the mountains to have any single one stand out. But one story that happens quite often, happens to be my favourite type of day. It usually starts with a wake up around 4:00 AM, quick coffee and eggs and out the door. Drive to a trailhead, link up with friends and jump on the snowmobiles. We race out to the trail but make a right turn in a spot we've never turned right on before. Soon we're semi-lost, punching up some unexplored valley, winding through trees and creek beds hoping to find a way into the alpine. After searching for a route for hours, we finally make it to the bottom of a sky-scraper sized wall of perfect, powdery spines. We ditch the snowmobiles and start climbing straight up the face. After wallowing through waist-deep snow up the 55 degree face for many hours, we top out just before sunset. We hastily gear up, put our game faces on and ski down the nearly vertical spines, bouncing, floating, and sliding our back down. We pound high fives, let out screams of pure joy and then get back on the snowmobiles to find our way out of the mountains and arrive back to the trucks in the dark of night. Then we do it all over again the next day.
How do you up your game year after year?
I don't have any wilful goal to step it up year after year, I think stepping it up simply comes from passion and imagination. When I'm not skiing, I'm often thinking about skiing, scanning maps for new zones, working on new equipment designs and dreaming about what is possible. It's in those thoughts that new ideas and new goals come to fruition.
If you could do anything better, what would it be?
Manage time better so I can squeak more fun out of the day while not dropping the ball on life's necessities.
What haven't you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
Surf Mavericks, climb El Capitan, fish in Patagonia, fly a plane…the list goes on and on really.
What part of you, or what you do, reflects a spirit of restlessness?
I get antsy, agitated, and annoying if I don't do something outside every day.
If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?
The only part I hate about skiing is that it only lasts four to six months. It'd be much cooler if it were a year round sport.