“Fall Line” Steve Shea Takes on Grand Teton in this Oscar Contender

Robin Azer |

The short film “Fall Line” introduced extreme ski mountaineering to North America. Shot in 1978, under primitive conditions, the film went on the be nominated for an Academy Award. Prior to this project little documentation of the sport existed. So climbers/cinematographers, Bob Carmichael and Greg Lowe set out to capture the essence of what it took to ascent and ski Grand Teton in Wyoming. Filmed over several weeks in the summer of 1978, with additional footage in 1979, “Fall Line” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action in 1981.

Grand Teton Credit: JacksonHole.com
Grand Teton
Credit: JacksonHole.com

Few had gone before where this film crew journeyed. The first to decent Grand Teton was Bill Briggs in the early 1970’s. Steve Shea, the skier/climber in this film, was the first to do both. The action was captured in a no-frills format; no helicopters, simply pure man-power on the climb and all camera angles were hand-held. Aerial views were shot from the ground up or captured from the summit of another peak. It displays in 16MM detail as Shea dodges a rock shower in his helmet-free climb. The film gets real, real fast right around minute 8:17.

“How I survived that I’ll never know. That gully is actually on the north side of Middle. I skied it successfully earlier but they wanted more, I got tired, it was late in the day and broke through the edge of the moat as the snow softened more than I thought. That is all it took, I pitched off about 300 metres. I used Rossignol 207cm race room slalom skis, Salomon 555 bindings and Nordica Grand Prix race boots. That stuff was great when it was bullet proof, not so much when soft!”

Steve Shea, skier/ climber

Steve Shea - "Fall Line"
Steve Shea – “Fall Line”

This was the only film project for Shea. He preferred to avoid the lime-light and simply enjoy the thrill of the experience.

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