While Cody Townsend must rely upon his own decision-making and experience when tackling imposing lines for The Fifty, the gear he chooses also plays a huge role. He needs a variety of different products that improve efficiency during uphill travel, maximize the fun factor for descents and keep him safe and confident in puckering terrain. In a gear-specific episode of The Fifty, Townsend takes the time to give viewers an overview of the Salomon hardgoods he relies on day-in and day-out for this project, and we’ve included them on this spread. Take a look and keep these boots, bindings and skis in mind should you need a new set-up for your own ski mountaineering objectives.
MTN + Brake
In his first year of The Fifty, Cody went after a lot of the tougher lines, ones that required long walks and mandated that he shed weight where he could. Subsequently, he relied on the MTN binding on the majority of these trips. It’s a simple pin-binding with a few moving parts, which promotes reliability because there aren’t a lot of pieces that can break and malfunction. It features three release value options in the heel (expert, men, women) that can be changed via included springs, to fine tune your connection. A 40-millimeter wide mounting zone on the toe allows for increased power transmission and stability up front. At 390 grams per binding (100 millimeter brake width), the MTN is an absolute dream for serious tourers.
S/Lab Shift MNC 13
Cody provided much of the input in designing the popular Shift binding, but relied on it sparingly for The Fifty. With the majority of his trips involving extended backcountry travel where weight really mattered, he chose the minimalist MTN binding. However, on Mount Superior, which required a minimal approach and held deep snow conditions, he chose the Shift. He wanted to ski fast and hard and out-run his slough, and the need for consistent release was greater than the need to shed weight. The Shift binding’s true alpine binding capabilities and low profile make it an incredible downhill binding, and it tours like a true pin-binding, making it the best of both worlds. Look for Cody to rely upon the Shift for some of the shorter approaches in the next season of The Fifty.
The S/Lab MTN assisted Townsend in the majority of his adventures on The Fifty. It’s a touring-specific boot that still packs a punch on burly descents. The S/Lab MTN has a carbon and composite fiber spine that provides a true alpine feel when skiing, and boasts a 120 flex rating that’s stiff enough to hold strong in variable snow. It weighs 1,570 grams per boot (@ 26.5), allows for 47 degrees of fore and aft motion when touring, and a wider fit liner ensures ultra-comfort during long slogs on the skin track. Salomon’s Custom Shell HD build allows for quick heat molding by a bootfitter, too.
The QST 118 has been Townsend’s favorite ski over the past few years; he’s taken it on many heli- and sled-ski trips where big-mountain powder skiing was the objective. For The Fifty, he used it less, as he ticked off lines with massive approaches and variable snow that didn’t require a powder ski. However, when he skied the South Face of Mount Superior in Utah, he encountered super deep snow and utilized the QST 118. Its tip and tail rocker is ideal for deep snow, while a core combination of cork in the tip and tial, poplar wood, tip-to-tail carbon/basalt stringers and a flax laminate underfoot ensure stability and dampness.
Cody used the QST 106 most often during his first season of The Fifty. The 106-millimeter-waisted ski is ultra-versatile, and boasts an incredible strength-to-weight ratio, great for efficient uphill movement and supreme downhill confidence. Salomon re-shaped it for 2020 to boost torsional rigidity, but also to ensure more “releasability” in the tail, in order to exit turns easier in powder and variable conditions. Cork, which is incredibly absorbative and light, is inserted in the tip and tail to smooth out vibrations and smooth out the ride in bulletproof conditions.
MTN Explore 95
The MTN Explore was the first time Townsend ever skied a pair of planks designed specifically for the backcountry, and he ended up loving them after shredding the Grand Teton on them. It’s an ultra-light pair of skis with a narrow 95 millimeter waist, but a full sidewall construction featuring a poplar wood core, Koroyd reinforcement and incredibly stiff tail provides stability and inspires confidence on really exposed descents that Townsend found in the Tetons.
The S/Lab X/Alp is designed specifically for long ski mountaineering objectives and ski-mo racing. It’s Killian Jornet’s ski of choice, for reference. While Townsend didn’t rely on these heavily, he did use them on Whistler’s Spearhead Traverse, where the majority of his time was spent skinning uphill and trying to do it fast. At 910 grams per ski (@ 158 centimeters), these babies are featherweight, and a poplar and Koroyd construction keeps them stiff enough to perform in steep skiing scenarios.