Episode 20 and 21 of The Fifty conclude Cody Townsend’s first year of The Fifty Project, an ambitious goal announced in January 2019 to climb and ski the 50 classic ski descents featured in the book of the same name over a three-year timeline.
In the first year of the project, Townsend attempted 21 of the 50 ski lines outlined in the book—from grueling traverses to gnarly couloirs to high-alpine glaciers—and while some of those attempts were foiled due to circumstances outside of his control, the first year of Townsend’s web series can only be deemed a big success for giving viewers a realistic depiction of what goes into safely navigating mountains and the backcountry.
The Fifty Episode 20: Mt. Rainier
Episode 20 is another example of what Townsend’s Fifty Project is really all about: it’s not just about checking off steep, gnarly lines, but about learning (and teaching those of us behind the camera) how to make smart decisions on the mountain.
In this episode, Townsend is joined by friend and professional big wave surfer Ian Walsh, who has his eyes set on summiting and skiing Denali in the future and wants to practice his mountaineering skills on Mt. Ranier, known as one of North America’s premier mountaineering training grounds. While their attempt to ski Mt. Ranier’s Führer Finger is shut down by unpredictable weather, Walsh learns valuable skills (and enjoys more than a few awesome turns) that help him successfully summit Denali a few weeks later.
Watch “The Fifty” Episode 20: Mt. Rainier
The Fifty Episode 21: Mt. Shasta
And because big mountain lines can also be really fun without being terrifying, Townsend concludes the first year of The Fifty with a party shred on Mt. Shasta. Close friends Scott Gaffney, Michelle Parker, Kyle O’Neal, Jeff Dostie, Brennan Lagasse, Ming Poon, and Megan Michelson join Townsend and videographer Bjarne Salen for the final line of the season on Avalanche Gulch, just one of the many amazing descents on Mt. Shasta’s flanks. This time, as if to join in Townsend’s celebration of wrapping year one of the Fifty Project, the weather plays nice and the beach shirts come out.
Watch “The Fifty” Episode 21: Mt. Shasta
Watch more: The Fifty Episode 19 - The Watson Traverse