Year Three of The Fifty Project in Memes

This year we watched professional backcountry skier Cody Townsend suffer through heat exhaustion, dense timber, and avalanche-littered terrain. It had its fair share of tense moments and immense challenges, but despite all that, the internet went ablaze with hilarious content celebrating the comical moments thanks to the Niche Outdoor Meme Mafia.

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Mt. Stimson

Kicking off year three of The Fifty Project, Cody Townsend teamed up with snowboarder Nick Russell to summit Mt. Stimson. Deep inside Glacier National Park, the mountain demanded a gut-wrenching approach filled with the most annoying hazards of the season—an eight-mile bushwhack up a ravine where each step forward was met with a branch in the face, skin that slid backwards, or yet another creek crossing. On the flip side, their kit will be “forest-bathed” in an piney scent that could be bottled and sold as a cologne named “Type Three Forest Fun.”

Castle Peak

After the Montana sufferfest, Bjarne Salen and Cody packed up the vans and headed West toward Idaho. Generally speaking, there’s next to no beta available on this peak, which proved hilarious when they entirely overplanned for this mission. What they expected to send over two days quickly became a big one-dayer. It was filled with giddy bromance, decent conditions, and hilariously bad intel.

Mt. Whitney

Our most popular episode of the season, and arguably the richest in meme content, the internet lit up when Alex Honnold joined Cody and Bjarne to ski Mt. Whitney. Cody, known for sometimes overcomplicating the simple, decided to bike from the lowest point in the contiguous United States to the highest—Death Valley to the summit of Whitney. What ensued was a slightly tense moment in which Cody experienced some gnarly heat exhaustion. The duo enjoyed some laughs and successes measured in different ways. According to Honnold, “It was fun to hang out with him [Cody] and I’d definitely do another adventure together.”

Devil’s Bedstead

In this highly strategic episode, Cody walks through his planning techniques from e-scouting to calling folks for beta to reading avalanche reports, he’s continually honing his avalanche knowledge. In this episode they find relatively stable conditions and invent a new sport—e-bike skiing.

Silver Couloir 

Always check the lens cap. Louder for the people in the back. Always check the lens cap. One more time. Always check the lens cap!

A lesson as old as hitting the record button, but something professional skier Cody Townsend was never taught. Up until this point in the series, we’ve caught glimpses of filmmaker Bjarne, but for this episode he became the focal point. In this role-reversal episode, Bjarne walks through his camera kit and Cody tries to shoot something somewhat usable for an entire episode.

The Patriarch

In this epic ski mountaineering line, Cody enlists the help of legends Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison to ski this south central Montana line called The Patriarch on Glacier Peak. The team takes off on sleds out of Cooke City to approach the mountain until the Wilderness line. With freezing temps and some solid snowpack conditions, they take off for a brunch start time.

St. Elias

To wrap up the season, Cody Townsend and Bjarne Salen team up with Nick Russell (again) and Dan Corn test their mettle against boss-level Mount St. Elias. In short, this mountain kicked their tail, which is to be expected. The team showcases incredible decision-making in the face of a shrinking weather window, exceptionally high avalanche danger, and a remote location. They capped it off with a trip to the beach, but not like the Sandals Jamaica kind of beach. 

This season was a mixed bag of fun, ski conditions, and challenging lines. Some episodes were gravy train, while others proved the severity that comes with the mountains. It’s a great reminder of why we do this: because it’s fun. It’s also a reminder that one bad turn, decision, or fluke weather change can be deadly. There’s no better time to sign up for an avalanche course, find a mentor, and start making a daily habit of reading your local avalanche forecast.

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Mitch Breton

Mitch Breton was raised on the shores of Maine's coastline chasing fresh snow, trout, grouse, and the best darn mosquito repellent money can buy. Covering topics from fly fishing, car camping, and beyond, he thrives on a story well-told.