All photos: Bjarne Salen
Cody Townsend is one of the most recognizable names in skiing at the moment. He’s been a regular in Matchstick Productions’ annual flicks since 2005’s The Hit List, has wowed mass audiences with his fast, fluid approach to big-mountain skiing and won over the hearts of ski enthusiasts the world over with his low-key demeanor and charisma. This season, he announced his most ambitious project to date, the goal to ski all fifty lines in the beloved book, 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America, by Chris Davenport, Art Burrows and Penn Newhard.
In episode 13 of Cody Townsend’s The FIFTY project, the professional skier heads to a little place called Aspen. With almost no experience skiing where the beer flows like wine, Townsend calls on the expertise of a couple well-known locals, including one of the authors of 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America, Penn Newhard, and ski mountaineer Pete Gaston to plan his route up Pyramid Peak to ski Landry Line.
First skied by Chris Landry in 1978, Landry Line didn’t see another skier for almost 30 years until Chris Davenport, Ted Mahon and Niel Biedleman bagged the iconic peak in 2006. Nowadays, avid ski mountaineers use Landry Line as a true test of skill due to its extreme exposure and–excuse the crudeness–butt-clenching steepness. After one of Colorado’s most historic avalanche seasons in 300 years, the snowpack was able to tighten up for Townsend’s arrival into town, providing stable conditions for his attempt. With Gaston bowing out due to health issues and Newhard calling it mid-ascent, it’s up to Townsend and videographer Bjarne Salen to navigate the challenging line.