The FIFTY Episode 26: The Sickle, Idaho

Cody Townsend introduces one of the best freeskiers of all time to mountaineering in the Sawtooth Mountains.

Cody Townsend is back in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho to conquer The Sickle, another Fifty classic. This marks 26 lines in his quest to climb and ski all the descents outlined in the book, “50 Classic Ski Descents of North America.” With a vertical of 3,760 feet and an elevation of 9,830 feet, this arduous route proves to be one of the more challenging lines, both physically and technically.

Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad climbing to the peak of The Sickle.
Townsend and Saugstad navigate the steep ascent. Photo Credit: Bjarne Salén

In this episode, Townsend introduces the world of ski mountaineering to one of the most accomplished freeskiers of all time, his wife Elyse Saugstad. With multiple Freeride World Tour wins under her belt and features in Teton Gravity Research, Matchstick Productions, and Warren Miller Entertainment films, Saugstad is one of the best female skiers to date. Trading pow for ice axes, she joins Townsed for this special edition of the Fifty, a.k.a “Marriage Test in the Mountains.”

The Sickle is no small feat to even the most experienced mountaineers. The crew must navigate a challenging approach, transitioning from skins to crampons halfway up in less than favorable snow conditions. Once they make it to the top of the exposed couloir, they are greeted with a spicy entrance that they must sidestep to reach better conditions. All in all, the tour requires 14 miles of human-powered adventuring and technical navigating.

Elyse Saugstad sidesteps down the steep couloir.
Saugstad sidesteps through the couloirs narrow entrance. Photo Credit: Bjarne Salén

“I think Cody is sandbagging me,” says Saugstad. “I have watched all of the episodes and none of them have had that techy, side slip down, climb stuff going on here.”

Watch The Fifty Episode 26: The Sickle

Tune in every two weeks to follow Townsend as he attempts to ski 50 Classic Lines in North America. You can also follow the project via Instagram.