Cody Townsend’s The Fifty, LIne 45, The Polar Star, Baffin Island, Canada

November 17th, 2023

Mountainwatch | Video

In this special episode of The Fifty, Cody Townsend’s project to climb and ski all of the lines named in the book The 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America, Cody and filmer Bjarne Salen head to the remote and spectacular Baffin Island inside the Arctic Circle in far northeast Canada.

The line in question is the Polar Star Couloir, a 3720ft vertical chute that drops between towering granite walls and they are joined on the expedition by Chamonix native and one of the world’s best mountaineers and steep skiers, Vivian Bruchez.

At 45-minutes this episode is much longer than usual episodes, a short film that documents a 10-day expedition in one of the most spectacular locations on the planet. The logistics involved to get to the couloir, which is located in Baffin’s isolated Sam Ford Fjord zone, are not easy and lost baggage and weather delays  compound things, turning the journey just to get there into a week-long mission.

The Polar Star Couloir – talk about dramatic Photo: Bjarne Salen

After landing in the small town of Clyde River, the crew hire local guides for the eight-hour sled trip across the tundra and frozen ocean to the fjord, the guides doing some hunting along the way. After setting up camp they wake to good conditions the next morning and make the four-hour climb to the top and drop into Polar Star on the first possible day to ski it.

In a rarity for the Fifty Project, Polar Star Couloir is actually holding really nice snow and Cody and Vivian rip some beautiful turns, Cody describing it as “one of the best couloirs I’ve ever skied in my life, it’s unbelievable.”

Cody living his dream, good snow in a steep chute. Photo: Bjarne Salen

While the goal of the of the trip is ticked off Cody’s list after the first 11 minutes of the film, the zone is a ski mountaineer’s dream with a myriad of couloirs to choose from and with another nine days left on Baffin Island they have a lot more climbing and skiing to do.

It is also an opportunity for Cody and Bjarne to spend time in the mountains with one of the best and the film focusses on Bruchez and Cody’s desire to find out “what made him so special.”

This film is a high point of The Fifty Project, the story telling, the characters, the skiing and the scenery are compelling while Bjarne Salen’s cinematography, including some incredible aerial drone shots, is next level.  Make sure you watch it.

Vivian Bruchez. Photo: Bjarne Salen

The Fifty documents Cody Townsend’s journeys, travels, challenges and each line and mountain listed in the book, The 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America. It’s a journey through the most majestic mountains and ski lines in North America along with a unique insight into how skiers make decisions in the backcountry, how they plan, navigate and safely move through the mountains and the people that dedicate their lives to the mountains. Stay up to date on Cody and filmmaker Bjarne Salen’s progress on The Fifty website  Instagram page.