A Champagne Winter

Skier Cody Townsend reflects on his most memorable ride during last winter’s epic conditions


“Rarity is a key ingredient of that which is special. For instance, if you drink champagne everyday, its illustrious and celebratory appeal is lost. Which is why the winter of 2017 in the Sierras—preceded by six years of arid, snowless droughts—was the true ‘champagne season.’


Photo: Ming Poon

With more than 20 feet of snow in the month of January alone, runs, lines and peaks that can go many years without being rideable were suddenly rideable. On Jan. 14, photographer Ming Poon, skier Michelle Parker and I went to a face that hasn’t seen rideable snow in at least six years. Its low elevation, sun-baked aspects and steep, gnarled terrain holds little to no snow in most seasons. We climbed more than 2,000 feet off the lake to a lookout that took in nearly every peak in the Tahoe basin. Descending at sunset, we ripped turns down a continuously steep, rolling alley of slash turns and high-speed arcs down to our cars. The only thing missing at the bottom was a champagne toast.”—Cody Townsend


Find Townsend online at codytownsend.com and on Instagram @codytownsend.


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