Watch: Heat Stroke and Awful Skiing as Honnold, Townsend Link Death Valley to Mt. Whitney

alex honnold and cody townsend
Townsend looking rough after 72km of biking in 38 degrees C temps.

It’s 217 kilometres from the lowest point in the Americas (Badwater Basin, 86m below sea level) to the base of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney, 4,421m). Naturally, two of America’s sufferfest heroes recently took the hard way up and the dangerous way down.

The mission: bike the distance through the blistering desert, then summit Mt. Whitney’s 13km, 1,870m Mountaineer’s Route. Then ski back down.

After introducing the objective, professional skier Cody Townsend says, “I’ve got one other person who’s just dumb enough to do this with me.”

Enter the world’s most famous rock climber, Alex Honnold.

It’s the latest installment in Townsend’s The Fifty video series, which chronicles his tour of the 50 most famous ski descents in North America (according to the guidebook, Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America).

Honnold’s first line in the video: “I legitimately haven’t skied in a couple of years, I don’t think.” Then he makes a dad-tastic rock climber joke.

Hijinks and danger ensue, as the two athletes defy the weather to visibly struggle through the task. They endure some legitimately hairy moments. Some activities they’re clearly not good at: Alex Honnold grasps the concept of french fries vs. pizza, but that’s about it.

Can they complete their charge? “Only one way to find out,” says Honnold.


About the Author

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.

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Cody fan
Cody fan
16 days ago

Not “according to him”, but according to FIFTY CLASSIC SKI DESCENTS OF NORTH AMERICA

Jerry Kobalenko
16 days ago
Reply to  Cody fan

Corrected, thank you.