Weekend Warm-Up: A Peak Obsession

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Meteorite Mountain. Photo: Cody Townsend

Passion project or obsession. Sometimes the lines blur between the two. For professional skier Cody Townsend, it is both. His obsession with peaks, and the thrills that come with them, translate into the need to ski the 50 classic descents of North America, a feat never attempted until now.

The Chugach Mountains in southern Alaska, known for their legendary steeps, are a mecca for skiers. Townsend, along with snowboarder Jeremy Jones and cameraman Bjarne Salen, travel to the remote town of Valdez to capture two of the most challenging peaks, Pontoon and Meteorite Mountains.

Meteorite Mountain’s climb and ski descent was like a religious experience, full of ritual and ceremony. Care accompanied every movement. It was said that a meteor or UFO crashed on its face many years ago, giving the mountain an allure that drew adventurers to it. After a river crossing at the base and hucking up its snowy face, they traversed to ridgeline, their souls free and complete. Descending, the surface held firm, their worries faded and they basked in the mountain’s power.

Pontoon Peak. Photo: Cody Townsend

Soon after, they chased after another high on Pontoon Mountain. Accessible by plane, its blinding white powder, tilted at a 55-degree angle, is iffy or dodgy in all but ideal conditions. Townend’s good friend, Dave Treadway, passed a few months prior after a snow bridge collapsed here. Townsend knew not to underestimate the mountain, no matter how much passion or obsession one felt for it. Luckily, the mountain relented and let them descend safely.

At the end of the day, Townsend was a student with the mountain as his teacher. With each ski venture, lessons turned out to be the most important takeaway.

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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