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Adventure

Cody Townsend's Couloir

Pro big-mountain skier Cody Townsend won't tell you where this 2,000-foot couloir is located.

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Location: Tordrillo Mountains, AKPHOTO: Will Wissman
Location: Tordrillo Mountains, AK
PHOTO: Will Wissman

Listen to our instructions carefully. First, watch big-mountain skier Cody Townsend’s helmet cam footage (below) ripping down a 2,000-foot couloir. Done with that already? OK, now read what Cody told us about what it was like skiing this line. We tried to find out where the couloir is, but he refuses to tell us. We’re not surprised.

Nice footage. How did you find this line?
This was a couloir I had spotted years ago while heading out into a nice little film zone we know about. I’ve probably gone right by it 20-plus times, always skipping it knowing that a playground of powder and cliffs lay up ahead. But since the early season snow was so bad in the West this past year we knew it was time to click off some couloirs and more alpine descent type of lines. I headed out with Jeremy Jones to tackle this and had a hell of a fun time finally checking it off my ‘to-ski’ list.

So where is this magical couloir?
As far as where it is, I can’t tell you. Because if you find it on your own it’ll be that much sweeter of a reward.

Fine. Be that way. Can you at least give us some tips on how to ski a narrow shot like this?
When it comes to skiing a couloir fast, i.e. no mountaineer jump turning, the key is to get a little bit of slide out of the end of your turn. If you full carve slalom turn it, you’ll be going out-of-control fast in a matter of moments. The little “slarve” (sliding-carve, aka McConkey Turn) at the end of your turn helps control your speed but it still allows you to keep your tips down the fall line. My last piece of advice: Be in very good shape. It was such a tiring climb and ski that my legs felt like Jet Li had used them for kicking practice once this thing was done.