Cody Townsend’s Tips for Tahoe

Cody Townsend was the star quarterback at my high school. Bet you didn’t know that. At the end of each school week, when the Friday night lights went out, Cody would hop in his car and drive five hours to Tahoe all sweaty and muddy. Then he’d ski all weekend and be back for classes Monday morning. He’s always been committed, that one. Later, while other Aptos High football alum were winning Super Bowls (hi Trent Dilfer), Cody moved to Tahoe to become one of the most badass skiers of our time. We think Cody’s path is cooler, btw. He still lives in Tahoe with his wife, fellow ski hero Elyse Saugstad. He’s happy there, and also happy to share a few reasons why, below. If you see him at Squaw this winter, wipe the Wildflour off your face and tell him Taylor said, “Go Mariners.” 

Awayco: If you like really tall mountains why do you live in Tahoe?
Cody Townsend: Because the tallest mountains in the Lower 48 are only a couple hours away! Oh and because Tahoe’s short mountains happen to be incredibly fun short mountains filled with a plethora of playful terrain and often some of the biggest storms in North America. Plus, it’s only a few hours away from really good surf.

Where’s the best coffee?
The best coffee is homemade. I’m a fiend for the perfect water-to-bean ratio, the best grind, the freshest boutique beans and the best coffee maker in the world, the Moccamaster. The good thing is those finest boutique coffee beans are actually roasted by ex-pro snowboarder Ralph Backstrom who started a coffee shop in Truckee called Pacific Crest. His coffee is insane.

Cody Townsend

Can you recommend a cool place to stay?
In North Lake, the Truckee Sport Hotel is an amazing little boutique B&B, otherwise I’d recommend staying at the Resort at Squaw Creek where you can practically ski out of your room to the chairlifts.

What do you use to know the forecasts?
Over the years I’ve graduated from basic weather forecasts, to NOAA read outs to then reading and analyzing the raw continental weather forecasting models. If you learn how to read it, Spotwx is the best weather forecasting site I’ve found. Though the OpenSnow forecasting does a remarkable job as well.

What do you look for in the forecast, and how do you choose where will be good?
Forecasting to me is as much art as it is science. It’s learning from experience what the numbers and models will translate to when you’re in an exact location in the mountains. The same model can create two entirely different outcomes for zones that may be within eye-sight of each other. But if you don’t have the time to read the forecast daily and learn over the decades what that means in the mountains, then I’d suggest subscribing to OpenSnow as their forecasters do exactly what I try to do for each ski region around North America. 

What’s so good about Squaw?
Of all the mountains I’ve been lucky enough to ski, Squaw is the most playful of them all. It’s a playground in mountain form. There is so much variety in terrain features, so many little zones and so many different characteristics of each zone that it sort of feels like five ski areas smooshed into one.

Where should we eat? 
For breakfast and lunch at Squaw, the only place to go to is Wildflour. No self-respecting local goes anywhere else. For dinner, the Plumpjacks Bar has really good bistro style food, quality craft beers and cocktails all for about half the price of sitting in the Plumpjacks dining room. 

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