Backcountry skiing is always a bit of a suffer-fest. Spend at least two hours hiking up a mountain loaded down with boots, skis, and other equipment in return for 10, maybe 20 minutes if you’re lucky, of glorious downhill skiing. How could one make the tradeoff even less desirable? Well, you could bikepack to the locations you were going to ski. That’s exactly what Cody Townsend and Michelle Parker did this summer. With COVID-19 putting a damper on any sort of travel other than isolated road trips, Cody and Michelle, old friends from Squaw Valley’s junior development ski team, decided to set out from their childhood home of Lake Tahoe to bikepack over 1,000 miles all the way up to El Dorado Peak in Northern Washington, hitting Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier on the way. Filmer and friend Bjarne Salen came along as well to document the action.
For the past two years, Cody has been on a mission to climb and ski all 50 mountains listed in the book The 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America as a project aptly titled The FIFTY. This trip knocked 28, 29, and 30 off the list. While it only took Cody two years to make it through more than half of the destinations on the list, he might want to budget a bit more time than that for the next 20 mountains if he plans on bikepacking the rest of them. Judging from the absolutely exhausted look on his face by the end of the film, I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening.