There’s not a lot that Salomon athlete and pro big mountain skier Cody Townsend hasn’t done when it comes to skiing. The California native who grew up shredding Squaw Valley with legends like Shane McConkey and Kent Kreitler has become one of the world’s most recognized freeskiers, known for his comedic edits and above all, his willingness to try and succeed at lines, airs, and mountain adventures that others couldn’t even begin to dream up. As a result, he’s skied in some pretty far-flung places like the Arctic and Tibet, but believe it or not, there are still some classic lines in North America that he hasn’t sampled. Townsend is now embarking on an epic adventure to remedy that.
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In conjunction with Summit Lunch Productions and big mountain ski filmmaker Bjarne Salén, Townsend just released the first episode of his new web series “The Fifty”, which will document Townsend checking off each line in the quintessential ski book Fifty Classic Descents of North America, compiled by Chris Davenport, Penn Newhard and Art Burrows. The book includes stats, photos, and narrative of the most iconic, difficult and awe-inspiring ski lines from Alaska to Colorado, California to Baffin Island.
While Townsend has already skied some of the classic lines included in the book, he’ll revisit almost all of them for this web series, adding the challenge of hiking up to them before tackling the descent. Why? “Because they’re pretty fun,” Townsend explains in Episode 1 of The Fifty. “All of them have at least one historical descent, but one person has not skied them all. Over the course of the next three years, I will attempt to ski every line as told in the book and will document the adventure, the challenge and the fun in the web series,” Townsend says.
There is one ski line in the book, however, that Townsend will not be revisiting: the Messner Couloir in Denali, Alaska. Why not? “Got really lucky in 2017, climbed and skied it,” Townsend says in the first episode. “I’m about to show you the proof. Don’t feel like I need to do it again, if you know what I mean.”
Watch: “The Fifty” Episode 1