“Conquering The Useless” from Cody Townsend and Team Thirteen is well worth your watch

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Last Saturday, Conquering The Useless, a film project by Team Thirteen and Cody Townsend, made its world premiere at Tahoe Art Haus in Tahoe City, California. In an email from a couple of days ago, Townsend told me “we kicked off the world premiere of Conquering the Useless at the Tahoe Art Haus on Saturday night. While it’s mainly an online digital download [film], it was rad to see a standing room only, fully packed theater for the movie.” And man, that crowd was treated to one of, if not the best solo project I’ve seen since athlete-produced films began popping up like whack-a-moles two years ago. The movie centers around Townsend, Chris Rubens and Dave Treadway setting out into the remote Boundary Range separating British Columbia and Alaska, to climb and ski incredible lines via snowmobile access.

Trailer: “Conquering The Useless”

Following his boom in stardom stemming from his “The Crack” segment in MSP’s Days of My Youth, Townsend fully steps out of the repetitive blueprint he’s followed over the past ten-plus years of filming heli-ski segments (among other skiing endeavors) across the world. When the trailer for the film first dropped, he told me, “I think there are so many cool challenges in skiing and different ways of approaching [the sport]. I’ve been taking the same approach for ten years and wanted to step out of that comfort zone and get to a different place than I’m used to.”

I’d say you succeeded, Mr. Townsend. Instead of a full-fledged film recap that will spoil it for all of you who haven’t been treated to the movie, I thought I’d make a quick hit list of takeaways from the film.

  • It turns out that not every pro skier knows one another, and it was rad to see Townsend and Dave Treadway strike up a relationship throughout the film.
  • Elyse Saugstad is a badass whose skiing prowess is only topped by her ability to take a crash and get back up. But, I already knew this.
  • Being married to one of your go-to backcountry ski partners looks stressful yet infinitely rewarding.
  • The film is crafted in a documentary style, yes. But, there is still plenty of ski porn moments towards the beginning, and that’s awesome.
  • Traveling across glaciated terrain during an incredibly low snow year deep in the Alaskan/British Columbian wilderness looks terrifying.
  • The fact that the crew’s mission was completely self-supported should create a wider appeal for this film, as the majority of backcountry skiers and ski mountaineers out there don’t have heli budgets or the means to contract guides and are accomplishing their own adventures by their own means.
  • I’m blown away at how much knowledge, machine tinkering, frustration, fear and gnarliness goes into extended snowmobile travel. Now I know.
  • The mountains the crew were camping and traveling amongst are gigantic. Townsend, Treadway and Rubens looked like ants beneath the peaks.
  • Turning around because of uncertainty—of snow conditions, weather, your physical well-being, your mental state—is never a bad move.

  • Chris Rubens is a badass ski mountaineer.
  • The buildup into the climax of the last 15 minutes or so of this film is on-point—goosebump inducing.
  • Cody Townsend: Also a badass and you’ll see why at the end of this film.
  • Dave Treadway: See previous thought, above.
  • This film has caused me to feel something. Corny? Maybe, but I found myself sharing in the joy of Townsend, Rubens and Treadway by the final credits. I think that’s a sign of a quality flick.
  • Conquering The Useless is a must-see for any skier, outdoorsman, adventurer, etc. The film is scheduled to screen in Annecy, France, Zakopane, Poland, Boston, Denver, Fernie, Park City, Ogden and Revelstoke in the coming months. For a full schedule, click here. I suggest you attend, or, do yourself a favor and purchase it on iTunes beginning October 24.

    Related: “Let’s go where no one has ever been before”; Townsend, Treadway and co. star in “Conquering the Useless”

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