Telluride Film Fest Sunday at The Palm: "Steep"

Telluride Film Fest Sunday at The Palm: "Steep"

[click “Play” to listen to Erika Gordon speak with Susan about “Steep”]


Steep poster-flyer Adrenaline junkie? Head for Telluride’s Palm Theatre Sunday, January 16, 4 p.m., for a screening of the heart-pumping 2007 documentary “Steep,” an event presented by The Telluride Film Festival, The Telluride Foundation and Telluride R1 School District.

The 19th-century British explorer Richard Burton famously said that the reason he tempted fate searching for the source of the Nile and penetrating darkest Arabia disguised as a Pathan was simple: “The devil drives.”

Ditto for the cast  of “Steep.”



“Steep” follows the exciting history of extreme skiing from its roots in the 1960s/70s in North America and Europe, beginning with a lone descent of Bill Briggs in 1971 on Grand Teton in Wyoming. Briggs’s accomplishment, witnessed by no one but attested to by aerial photographs of his ski tracks, is all the more remarkable for the fact the man was born without a hip joint, and multiple surgeries had left him with a limp. It continues to the present day, en route visiting adventure meccas from Wyoming to France, British Columbia, Iceland and Alaska.

Written and directed by Mark Obenhaus, “Steep” includes interviews and footage of well known ski personalities including Bill Briggs and Glen Plake and other notables, such as Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Andrew McClean, Eric Pehota, Ingrid Backstrom, Stefano De Benedetti, Anselme Baud, Chris Davenport and Emily Coombs. But the most consistent presence in “Steep” is Doug Coombs, who, in 1991, won the first World Extreme Ski Championship in Valdez. In “Steep,” Coombs reflects out loud about the risks of his sport and seems resigned to his luck running out one day. It did. He died while skiing with friends in April 2006.

Of Bill Briggs and Doug Coombs, one quote by director Mark Obenhous stands out:

 “In a sense, between the two of them, we felt that we could almost see the whole sport evolving. That was the moment we thought, ‘Ah-ha,’ this is the story we want to tell,” National Geographic Adventure.

Special guest, avalanche expert Jonathan Miller from the San Juan Outdoor School.

To learn more about “Steep” and other Telluride Film Fest events, click the “play” button and listen to Erika Gordon’s interview.

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