Cody Townsend and Michelle Parker in 'The Mountain Why'

Two professional skiers ride over 1,000 miles on bikes to climb and ski three mountains.

If the last few years have proven anything, it’s that professional skier Cody Townsend loves to suffer. He’s been working on climbing and skiing 50 classic North American ski descents (based on a book of the same name), and has been documenting each ski mountaineering mission along the way in a video series called “The Fifty Project.”

Townsend’s project, like the rest of the United States, was paused in March by the pandemic. So, with plenty of time on his hands while staying at home, he mapped out a mission to ski three of the classic lines on his list in a way that was pandemic-friendly: By riding a bike to each one. The result of the ride and ski missions is documented in a new film, “The Mountain Why.”

Along with fellow professional skier Michelle Parker and videographer Bjarne Salen, the crew starts in Squaw Valley and rides north, stopping to ski Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and El Dorado Peak. Things start smoothly before deteriorating about halfway through, which, as Townsend points out in the film, is when the adventure starts.

“I honestly don’t know why adventures like this spark inspiration,” says Townsend in a press release. “But what I do know is that desire to find out what’s at the end of the road is a magnetic source of energy and that curiosity to find out what is out there, around the next corner or even just what is deep inside myself, is the fuel for my adventure engine.”

Cody Townsend and Michelle Parker climbing El Dorado Peak
Michelle Parker (front) and Cody Townsend climbing El Dorado Peak.Photo credit: Bjarne Salen

While the actual amount of skiing in the film and on the trip is limited, the video-diary style shots of Townsend and Parker throughout the movie aptly describe what it’s like to be a skier in a time of great stress and change around the globe. It gives reason for all skiers to stop and reflect on how nice it is that, for most of us, the biggest problems in the ski world right now are trying to get reservations to ski or what type of wax to use next weekend. These reflections in particular are reason enough to put “The Mountain Why” on your must-watch list. 

Watch: ‘The Mountain Why’

Learn more about the video (and watch it if it’s not displayed above) on Red Bull’s website.

More from ‘The Fifty Project’