A PACK IS BORN: CODY TOWNSEND SHARES THE CRUX 40 STORY
Words from Cody Townsend, Photos from Cody Townsend and Bjarne Salen
NAME: Cody Townsend
RESIDENCE: Tahoe City, CA
YEARS SKIING: 38 Years
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: I could say the awards, contests, and accomplished peaks are the highlights, but to be honest, my biggest highlight is still being here, still getting to ski for a living, and getting to center a life around sliding on snow.
FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH YOUR SKI CAREER, WHEN AND HOW DID YOU START, AND HOW HAS YOUR PATH LED YOU TO TECHNICAL SKI MOUNTAINEERING?
I started skiing as a weekend warrior from Santa Cruz, California, and found an incredible love for skiing from as young as I can remember. I decided I wanted to be a skier, much like other kids want to be astronauts or firefighters, at six years old. I worked my way through a brief ski racing career and dreamed of being an Olympic downhiller, which quickly morphed into becoming a professional freeskier at about 20 years old. Spent about a decade and a half filming ski movies, chasing powder, and jumping cliffs. Then suddenly, I became enamored by human-powered adventures, expeditions, and a new-to-me style of skiing called "Ski Mountaineering". And that's 38 years of my life wrapped up into a few sentences.
SO, "GOING TO WORK" IN THE MOUNTAINS THESE DAYS. WHAT'S YOUR "SHIFT" TYPICALLY LIKE? DESCRIBE SOME OF THE TASKS AND CONDITIONS YOU ENCOUNTER IN THE OFFICE.
There is a big difference between being a really good skier and a professional skier. The separation between the two lies in the behind-the-scenes work. For me, no matter what, I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to be a skier and to be in a position to go skiing for a living. So I work hard at it, and that means there is a lot of time behind the computer working on ideas, plans, and preparation, making, editing, and developing content, along with writing pitch proposals and helping develop products. It's a full-time job, but it allows me to ski whenever I want, so I wouldn't trade it for anything.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR SCENARIO OR REPEATED SCENARIOS THAT MADE YOU THINK, "MAN, I NEED A BETTER TOOL FOR THESE JOBS."
Probably every other day! Ha. I think that's the beauty of walking around in the mountains a lot; it gives you a ton of time to think, dream, and craft ideas in your head.
WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR? WHAT MADE YOU TRUST THAT WE COULD BE THE ONES TO MAKE YOU THIS NEW PACK?
My relationship with HMG started as a customer, buying a Porter for my first-ever ski traverse and an Ultamid for backcountry camping. After falling in love with the functionality of the products, I started cold-emailing HMG asking if I could help design a ski pack. Took a few years, but here we are with two amazing ski-oriented packs that have been built with a team of incredible designers, a team of in-the-field product testers, and the blessing of a company that is product-centric. It's been an awesome relationship that I cannot wait to continue to develop.
HOW'D THE BUILD PROCESS GET STARTED? AND ONCE IT WAS UNDERWAY, WHAT CONDITIONS DID YOU PUT THE PROTOTYPES THROUGH? HOW MANY ROUNDS OF MODS DID THEY UNDERGO?
The process starts in the field. It starts with spending a lot of time in the skin track, talking with others, and crafting ideas for what the ideal product would be. For me, I start with a rough sketch and some key bullet points. I meet with the design team to pitch them the ideas and see about the feasibility of the ideas and design. Once underway, we go through a lengthy Plan A - Z phase of thinking of different ways to execute the ideas and narrow down what looks to be the best options.
From there, the HMG team hand-builds prototypes, and we go into a testing phase. For the Crux 40 pack, I got to test at least five different protos throughout the entirety of last season. But I wasn't the only one testing the pack, as there was a team of A-grade skiers and athletes doing the same thing I was doing–going out on the daily and putting the pack through the paces. For me, I got to test the Crux 40 in everything from the deepest powder day I've ever had in Tahoe to couloirs in the Arctic, from technical ski mountaineering to daily ski tours. It was an awesome and amazing process that got us to the Crux 40.
THE CRUX 40 IS NOW UNLEASHED ON THE WORLD! WHAT ARE THE FEATURES YOU'RE MOST STOKED ABOUT? WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS PACK IS BRINGING TO THE TECHNICAL SKI MOUNTAINEERING SET?
By far, the back panel entry point. It was the crux (pun intended) of the design process and the hardest design feature to incorporate. But it's also the feature that makes the pack so great for technical ski mountaineering. For me, this pack is an incorporation of HMG minimalism blended with additional and absolutely necessary specs that make it functionally perfect for this kind of adventuring. It's a pack that is entirely unique because of the high-quality materials and fit that HMG is known for, combined with design elements that make it ideal for technical, steep, and exposed terrain.
FOR THOSE WHO WILL BE ADDING A CRUX 40 TO THEIR SETUP, WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR GETTING THE MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE OUT OF IT?
While most of Crux 40 features come standard, it has the ability to be customized to your preference. From adding attachment points to the daisy chains to setting it up lidless or with the lid, setting it up to your own preference or the day's objective is a key element to the pack. But from there, the best way to get maximum performance out of it is to use it daily–to be in the backcountry, putting it through the paces, and figuring out how it's going to help you out with your day.
WHAT'S ON THE DOCKET FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON? WHERE WILL YOU BE TAKING YOUR CRUX 40 NEXT?
More adventures, more skiing, more fun!