The FIFTY ‘Summit Fever’: Townsend Heads for the Hardest Line Yet

Every line that ski mountaineer Cody Townsend pursues in ‘The FIFTY’ is classic, but good luck finding one with fewer descents than Mt. St. Elias.

Since ticking his first line for the project, Townsend has taken on more than half of North America’s wildest backcountry ski descents. The latest entry to “The FIFTY” series, “Summit Fever,” documents Townsend, Dan Corn, Nick Russell, and cameraman Bjarne Salen’s attempt to summit and ski down North America’s second-highest peak, Mt. St. Elias (18,008 feet), in the spring of 2021.

Townsend describes the run as one of three “cruxes of the FIFTY” — a route that overshadows the rest in magnitude, risk, and improbability. Known for tempestuous storms and fewer than a handful of ski descents, the line on Mt. St. Elias is a lifetime test piece for the most elite skiers.

Watch the scrappy skimo crew keep the stoke, smiles, and Swedish Fish a-flowin’ as they negotiate the Yukon behemoth.

Runtime: 36 minutes

The Patriarch -22 Cody Townsend
Epic Last Line: The FIFTY Project Wraps Up Its Season on 'The Patriarch'

'The Patriarch' is an epic, cliffy ski line that runs down Montana's great Glacier Peak. Watch Cody Townsend tackle it in his denouement to The FIFTY Project's 2021 season. Read more…

Jilli Cluff
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Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas, where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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