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It’s here: The first episode of the fourth season of Cody Townsend’s Fifty Project is finally live, and man, we missed this nutty adventure series.
At the close of the third season of The Fifty Project, which follows Townsend as he sets out to climb and ski the 50 classic ski descents in North America, Townsend had checked off 36 of the 50 lines. He’s more than halfway to his goal, but his 37th line, the rarely skied Comstock Couloir in B.C., proves to be a real doozy.
Turns out, there’s a reason so few skiers have attempted this 50-degree couloir on 11,000-foot Mt. Dawson—make that, multiple reasons. First, there’s the remoteness of this objective. It’s a 10-mile skin to even just get to the base camp. Then there’s the sheer amount of vert you have to cover, which includes climbing up and out of multiple valleys (there’s nothing more demoralizing than having to ski down the same vert you just climbed, just to do it all over again).
But the most challenging aspect of the Comstock Couloir is its weather patterns. Townsend and guest stars for the episode Sam Smoothy and legendary ski mountaineer and guide Greg Hill (part of the first crew to ski the Comstock) spend nearly two weeks waiting for a weather window to even venture out into the Rogers Pass backcountry. When they finally get into the mountains, the weather doesn’t exactly cooperate either.
“It’s cold, it’s windy… it’s gotta be like minus 20 [degrees] at least right now,” Townsend tells the camera as he approaches Mt. Dawson. “It’s crazy for mid-April. God what a weird winter. It’s wild because it looks like Dawson has its own weather system… We’re just in nuclear winds under a cloud.”
Ultimately, Townsend and his crew have a call to make: Is it a go, or a no-go?
We won’t spoil the episode, we’ll just say this: Dilemmas like this, and the decision-making that ensues, is why we love The Fifty. This isn’t just another series that shows pro skiers slaying big lines. It’s an honest account of how much big ski adventures can suck, how much goes into planning them, and a reminder that adventuring in the mountains is about the journey, not always the destination.