Cody Townsend is a skier of international renown.
At one time most known perhaps for his “line of the year” in 2014, he’s now turned his attention to a self-produced film series “The Fifty Project”, inspired by the book, ‘The 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America.’ He’s less known, but equally defined in his mind by an, “undying love of fart jokes, abhorrence of math and curious infatuation with tiny dogs.”
Cody’s real-life web series became an unprecedented success in the first half of 2019 and introduced a mainstream audience and other skiers alike, to such niche objects as skins, beacons and ski touring socks.
Not only are we stoked to announce the return of the Fifty Project for season 3, but Lé Bent is now also an official sponsor.
Now 28 episodes deep, and having documented 30 classic ski lines and counting, the most watched winter sports series in the world is back.
“The FIFTY was started because I was searching for something new in skiing.” - Cody Townsend
Watch the first episode here:
“I’d spent the prior decade chasing the highest performance downhill, big mountain focused skiing I could. Eventually I felt like I’d tapped out all my dreams, goals and challenges within that realm.” Said Cody.
“As skiing is a sport with an unlimited amount of ways you can do it, I started being drawn into the human-powered approach to skiing big lines, to expeditions to far flung corners of the world and to skiing iconic peaks that had no mechanized access.”
To date, Cody’s been joined by a number of big-name, big mountain riders as well as lesser known but equally respected locals. From the likes of snowboarder and activist Jeremy Jones, to photographer Jimmy Chin and fellow Le Bent team rider Elyse Saugstad (who also happens to be Cody’s better half). However, this season promises to have an even more stacked cast of mountain icons.
The first episode of season 3 where the team tries to climb and ski Mt Stimson is a doozy.
“Sometimes it's not immediately apparent what is "classic" about the lines in the book.” Said Cody.
“With Stimson, it was pretty obvious. It's a mountain that sticks up like a giant white shark fin in the sky, dwarfing nearly everything else around it. There is one little sliver off of Hwy 2 in Glacier National Park where it jumps out of the forest and stands tall and proud. It's the kind of mountain that screams at you and draws you in with its magnetic aesthetics.”
“Problem is what you don't stare at, what you look right over, is possibly the gnarliest part of this mountain...the 9mile (14.5km), thick forested, heavily vegetated, deep canyoned, narrow creek'ed approach.”
Mt Stimson is the opposite of low hanging fruit. Here it lurks in the distance, with days of bushwhacking and creek crossings in between. Pic cred: Bjarne Salen
“I'd honestly not recommend anyone to attempt this line unless you're really into ski touring in creek water filled ski boots, torn clothes, lugging heavy backpacks over and under hundreds of deadfall trees and generally just all out suffering for days on end.”
“Now I've been known to do some bushwhacks, but absolutely nothing compares with this bushwhack.” Said Cody.
Indeed, Cody’s no sook when it comes to creek crossings and taking off his socks in the snow. Heck, he did a bunch of them when he visited us Downunder during our final testing of his Signature Pro Series Snow Sock.
“There is no getting around the complete punishment your feet go through on tours like Stimson," he said. "You’re gonna get them wet, sweaty and cold at times. But minimizing those impacts with better materials and innovations like the heel grip strips on the Pro Model Sock helps you get through the day.”
“I know with those socks I’m gonna have less chance of blisters, which could be trip enders, and more chance for warm feet which makes the challenges that you’re gonna face just a little bit easier.”
When asked what we can expect out of this season of the Fifty Project, Cody said, “More suffering, more education and some big challenges.”
“This season was one of the toughest seasons yet and I think the entertainment value because of that is only increased. It wasn’t my favorite season while out in the field, but it’s probably my favorite season in terms of the episodes we’ve produced.”
There’ll also be plenty of bonus episodes too, noting that in seasons 1 & 2 Cody produced 11 bonus episodes that often covered his all-important gear selection.
“My gear decisions are always changing, always nuanced and always adapted to bring the highest level of comfort, safety and chances for success. I’m super calculated with every piece of gear I bring out there because without good gear, this project wouldn’t be possible.”
One unsung item that Cody has worn up and down all of his Fifty lines, is a Lightweight Le Bent Baselayer.
"Layering is everything because one of the most important aspect of big backcountry missions is temperature management." Said Cody.
“I’ve found with base layers, the combo of wool and synthetic, like the Le Bent Merino & Bamboo Rayon blend provides a perfect blend of maintaining warmth and being dry”
“You’re constantly going back and forth between the heat built up from physical exertion and the cold that the environment you’re in brings. So, maintaining your temperature is essential to staying dry and a comfortable temp.”
Episodes from season 3 of The Fifty Project will be dropping fortnightly, with some bonus surprises in between as we head full steam into winter.
As for Cody, he’ll be bushwhacking his way into winter and more lines on his journey to ski all 50 classics! Stay tuned.
Check out the socks that have taken Cody up every single line of the Fifty...