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

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.