Friends have been paying tribute to Dean Potter, the extreme athlete, free climber and BASE-jumper, who died during a wingsuit accident in Yosemite National Park.
Potter 43, and his climbing partner Graham Hunt, 29, died on Saturday night after attempting a wingsuit flight from a 7,500 ft promontory called Taft Point in the California park. Their bodies were discovered on Sunday morning. Their parachutes had not been deployed.
Potter was known for his daredevil stunts in Yosemite and around the world. His career has been widely documented as he progressed from extreme climbing to speed and solo climbing, highlining and BASE jumping.
Potter himself knew the inherent danger of his own sport, and once wrote: “Though I sometimes have felt like I’m above it all and away from any harm, I want people to realise how powerful climbing, extreme sports or any other death-consequence pursuits are.
“There is nothing fake about it whether you see it in real life, on YouTube or in a glamorous commercial.”
In 2009, he set a record for completing the longest BASE jump from the Eiger North Face in Switzerland. The photographer who documented the jump, Corey Rich, said of Potter’s death: “In the adventure world, I’ve lost a lot of friends to climbing and base jumping.
“On one level, you lose a friend. But it’s also difficult to be surprised because BASE jumping is the most dangerous thing you can do. The odds are not in your favour, and sadly Dean pulled the unlucky card,” he said.
Climber Doug Robinson told the BBC: “We’re very sad about Dean Potter’s death, but not very surprised. He was pushing the envelope all his life.”
Known as “the dark wizard” by younger climbers in Yosemite, Potter took to climbing and jumping with his dog, Whisper, who later became the subject of his film ‘When Dogs Fly’.
Sharing a picture of himself from the film on his Instagram account this year, pictured above, Potter said: “People often assume that I don’t feel fear but it’s pretty easy to see in this screen grab that my face is strained and I’m processing heavy emotions and calculating the odds.”
Additional reporting by PAReuse content