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Cody Townsend Ends Massive ‘FIFTY Project’ at 46: Questions Swirl Around Unexpected Conclusion

For 5 years, Cody Townsend has been on a mission to conquer all of The Fifty Classic Ski Descents in North America 'the hard way.' On March 20, 2024, he wrapped up his quest ... just shy of finishing the job.

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In 2010, Chris Davenport, Art Burrows, and Penn Newhard published the first edition of “The 50 Classic Ski Descents in North America.” Fourteen years later, professional skier Cody Townsend is wrapping up the first documented attempt to backcountry ski every single one of them.

On March 20, 2024, Townsend halted the eponymous “FIFTY Project” after his 46th descent. And followers are left to wonder why.

“Here it is. The final episode in The FIFTY,” Townsend, who has shared each of the descents on video, wrote on social media. “While I could explain it more here, just watch the episode about the project, this [sic] significance of this line, and what the future holds for this project. It all gets explained in the episode.”

The final video in The FIFTY series, “Bloody Done,” has nearly 77,000 views in 24 hours. The post and video mark a mysterious end to such a well-received, widely followed, and heavily sponsored film series. GearJunkie reached out to Townsend for comment but had not immediately heard back. Stay tuned for updates.

Wrapping Up The FIFTY Project Shy of 50

The book that The FIFTY Project is based on is a beautiful showcase of some of the continent’s finest backcountry ski lines. Many of the 50 Classic Ski Descents require advanced mountaineering skills and local knowledge to access. Every one of them presents danger in the forms of avalanches, steep pitches, cliffs, crevasses, and variable conditions.

“Drawn in simply by the allure of ‘I want to ski that,’ I plan to devote the next few years of my life to skiing every line documented in that book. And for one final twist, I plan on doing it the hard way, by climbing every line that I ski,” Townsend declared in 2018.

In the years since, Townsend has not only conquered his way through the lines one at a time, filming each one and posting videos along the way, but he’s also gained a massive following. The Instagram page for The FIFTY Project (@the.fifty.project) has 73.3K followers. Townsend’s YouTube page now has 149K subscribers.

While Townsend hasn’t said exactly why he is ending The FIFTY Project at 46/50 ski descents, he mentions in the final episode that there are a few of them that he and his partner Bjarne Salen haven’t even been to the base of. In the video, he says they’ll continue to pursue the last four descents, but on their own.

In a subsequent Instagram post, he stated, “Whether that’s going to be accomplished or not, is the question I continue to seek the answer to.”

Until then, fans will simply have to accept that The FIFTY Project ended on #46. Townsend still has Comstock Couloir and Rogers/Swiss Peaks in British Columbia, Canada, and University Peak’s South Face and Mira Face on Mt. Saint Elias in Alaska to check off the list.

Saving Bloody Couloir for Last: A Full Circle Journey

“Having skied this line over 20 years ago, the Bloody Couloir in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California is a full circle journey for The FIFTY,” Townsend wrote in the video description. “While there are still four lines to attempt, the end of the FIFTY YouTube series is marked by the return to a classic couloir in classic FIFTY style, with a load of friends and a little extra bit of walking.

For the last descent of The FIFTY Project Townsend invited a squad of friends and family to join him. lyse Saugstad, Josh Daiek, JT Holmes, Greg Lindsey, Michelle Parker, Ming Poon, Forrest Shearer, Brian Walker, Grayson Schaffer, and Drew Pedersen all came along for the final ride on Bloody Couloir.

And in classic FIFTY Project style, Townsend ensured (accidentally, he said) that it would be a sufferfest for everyone.

“When I started this project, I said I wanted to learn the mountains in a whole new way. And after 46 lines, I can easily say I’ve learned a lot thanks to the people, the mountains, the places, and communities involved with us,” Townsend narrates in the finale of “Bloody Done.” “I will say, though, the learning doesn’t stop here.”

Townsend clarified that his YouTube channel is still going to continue posting videos about his ski adventures. And he told his fans and followers to stay tuned for more.

“It’s not the last line,” he said in “Bloody Done.” “Just the last episode.”

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