Local skiers pedal 1,000 miles, hit 3 iconic lines in new film

Local skier Cody Townsend has been grinding away on a project to climb and ski all fifty lines from the book “The Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America.”

Townsend has chronicled the series, called “The FIFTY,” on his YouTube channel, and on Monday released “Mountain Why,” a ski mountaineering film about cycling more than 1,000 miles as part of crossing off three more of the continent’s iconic ski lines.

“I honestly don’t know why adventures like this spark inspiration,” said Townsend in a news 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.”

In an interview with the Sierra Sun, Townsend recalled the journey, setting off last June from Tahoe with lifelong friend and local pro skier Michelle Parker. Pedaling bicycles and pulling small trailers loaded down with ski gear, the two bounced down dirt roads, and cruised along highways, which Townsend said, “was probably the most terrifying part,” of a month-long journey that ultimately led the duo into the Newton Clark Headwall on Oregon’s 11,250-foot Mount Hood, Washington’s Fuhrer Finger on the 14,411-foot Mount Rainer, and the 8,868-foot Eldorado Peak in the North Cascades.

Local pros Cody Townsend (left) and Michelle Parker pedaled more than 1,000 miles on bicycles in order to ski a trio of classic lines in the Pacific Northwest. Provided / Bjarne Salen

In total, the two biked 1033.16 miles, skied 20,000 feat of vertical terrain during a period of 35 days. They hauled roughly 100 pounds of camping and skiing gear.

“Through great challenge, you find a resilience deep inside you, the fact that change is really, really hard, and sometimes we need the hard to slap us right across the face to incite that change,” said Townsend in Monday’s news release. “It makes me think that maybe this hardship in the world is a catalyst for needed change. Or maybe, it’s just taking life one pedal stroke at a time even when there is little hope and lots of hard, because that’s the only way to manifest the reality that we all aspire to. Then again, maybe we just do it because man does a beer taste good after you’ve biked a 1000 miles.”

The three peaks skied by the two put Townsend at 30 peaks for The FIFTY project. “The Mountain Why” was created in conjunction with Red Bull TV, Salomon, and Yeti. The full 37-minute movie will be uploaded on The FIFTY projects YouTube channel on Dec. 27, and can be viewed now on RedBull TV.

“Voluntary suffering is character building and it ultimately builds up confidence, breaks down personal barriers, and helps me to realize what I am capable of,” said Parker ahead of the film’s release. “This trip stripped me of my ego in the end.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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