After weeks of Instagram hype, Cody Townsend just released his favorite episode of “The Fifty” to date. “It's much bigger than just going up and coming back down mountains. It's a story that spans thousands of years yet is more relevant today than ever,” said Townsend in an Instagram post earlier this week.

The crew summiting Mt. Tukuhnikivatz in episode 17 of The Fifty.

The crew summiting Mt. Tukuhnikivatz

Episode 17 follows Townsend to Utah’s La Sal Mountains, the ancestral homelands of the Ute, Navajo, and ancestral Puebloan peoples, to climb Mt. Tukuhnikivatz. He is joined by Dr. Len Nevefer, a member of the Navajo nation and the CEO of Natives Outdoors—a B Corp that empowers indigenous communities —and Natives Outdoors athlete, Connor Ryan, a member of the Lakota nation. 

Fireside chats with Cody Townsend, Dr. Len Necefer, and Connor Ryan.

Fireside chats with Townsend, Necefer, and Ryan.

This episode goes beyond the incredible skiing we have come to expect from Townsend and instead highlights what the pro skier learns “from the people who’ve had their culture, ancestry and traditions sculpted by mountains for thousands of years.” 

Read more: Catching up with Cody Townsend 

While skinning to the summit, Townsend learns about the deep connection between the indigenous community and the mountains. Skiers may think they know mountains, but they don't know them like the people who base their whole identity on their natural environment. The mountains are where they live, not just where they play, and so they are fighting to make places like these last for generations. 

With full tanks, the crew shreds the 3,500 feet of vertical under bluebird skies through the fresh snow blanketing Mt. Tukuhnikivatz. This is the 17th episode in Townsend’s mission to climb and ski all 50 descents detailed in ”Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America”.

Watch The Fifty Project Episode 17: Mt. Tukuhnikivatz

Catch up: Watch The Fifty Episode's 15/16: North Maroon Peak and Holy Cross Couloir

Tune in every two weeks to follow Townsend as he attempts to ski the 50 most classic lines in North America. You can also follow along with the project via Instagram.