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Thread: Dean Potter and Graham Hunt dead

  1. #1

    Dean Potter and Graham Hunt dead

    On Saturday evening, May 16, BASE jumpers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died after attempting a wing suit flight from Taft Point, a 7,500-foot promontory that overlooks Yosemite Valley and El Capitan.

    Potter has been a fixture on the climbing and BASE-jumping scene in Yosemite since the late 1990s. According to Yosemite chief of staff Mike Gauthier, the pair made the jump late Saturday. Their spotter heard two sounds that could have been impacts or could have been the noises made by parachutes snapping open. She followed standard protocols, first trying to reach the pair by radio, with no luck, and then moving to a predetermined meeting place. “They were optimistic, thinking that the men might have been arrested,” says Gauthier. BASE jumping is illegal in Yosemite National Park.

    Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) initiated a hasty search, but the rangers were unable to locate the pair overnight. Potter and Hunt had been attempting to fly along terrain that required them to clear a notch in a rocky ridgeline. “It’s kind of a trickier flight to go through this notch,” Gauthier says. On Sunday morning, a state police helicopter was able to spot both bodies from the air. No parachutes had been deployed. Two rangers were then airlifted to the site to perform the recovery.

    Survivors include Potter’s girlfriend Jennifer Rapp and his dog, Whisper, a blue heeler who has played a prominent role in Potter’s adventure life for the past few years.

    Potter first came to prominence in Yosemite in the late nineties, when he began making bold solo and free-solo ascents of many of the park’s classic rock routes. By the middle oughts, he’d elevated slacklining—tightrope walking on a piece of webbing—to an extreme art form, making safe crossings of such notable features as Lost Arrow Spire, in Yosemite, and the Three Gossips feature in Arches National Park. Many times he’d make these crossings with no safety tether.

    Potter came under fire in 2006 after he free soloed Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, a sandstone feature that appears on Utah license plates.Potter always maintained that the ascent was both lawful and respectful. “I was just climbing a beautiful rock that hadn’t been free climbed before,” he told me in February.

    Potter continued to innovate in the world of extreme sports. In 2008, he climbed the 5.12 Deep Blue Sea route on the north face of Switzerland’s 13,020-foot Eiger with only a parachute on his back. He dubbed the sport free-basing. He also began crossing highlines using a parachute for safety.

    Last year Potter and Rapp produced a film called "When Dogs Fly" that chronicled Potter’s adventures BASE jumping with his dog, Whisper. The eventual footage of Whisper, wearing goggles and cinched between Potter’s back and his parachute pack, became an online sensation, though some people worried about Whisper’s safety.
    Potter was 43.

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  3. #2
    I just saw that. Wow...

  4. #3
    Glad to hear Whisper stayed home this trip.

  5. #4
    I hiked out to Taft Point years ago - I would not consider it high enough for squirrel suiting if one intended to fly thru a crack or similar, but then again I gave up hang gliding after I crashed (in Oz), so maybe my flying skills and judgement were never any good.

  6. #5
    many cried for his blood back when he solo'ed Delicate Arch...

    ...guess in some round about way they got their wish.

  7. #6
    Morbid but interesting statement--"Their spotter heard two sounds that could have been impacts or could have been the noises made by parachutes snapping open."

  8. #7
    The news made a very small 2 column inches of the UK press. No-one here (including me) had ever heard of them.

    It would have made 1000 times if the GoPro was on.

    You can perhaps tell what little sympathy I have.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob L View Post
    It would have made 1000 times if the GoPro was on.
    This is absolutely the truth. Folks will mock the GoPro culture from a pedestal but if this was on video, the same would secretly lust over the YouTube footage.

    Much like drones by the way, some want to find controversy with them but will marvel at their footage in private.

    Which brings another point, both BASE and drones are illegal in NPs, but BASE is cooler, even though it draws more attention.

  10. #9
    So the moral to the story is if you are going to kill yourself make sure the Go-Pro is turned on?

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  12. #10
    Nice article by a friend of Dean's on the Daily Beast.

    And a few more details about the accident in this SFGate article.

  13. #11
    Sad event for sure. But I'm thinking the articles surrounding his (I mean THEIR) death, could be a little more inclusive to the "other guy".

    Dean Potter, RIP

    ....oh and that other guy too, what was his name I don't know I'm sure he was a good guy but not as cool as Dean Potter

    And then when briefly mentioning his life partner, and then the dog gets more of a description. Ouch.

  14. #12
    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes....

    Rock, paper, scissors.... ROCK!

  15. #13
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    I have jumped out of helicopters (static line) and planes for over 20 years, I always knew that one day my ticket might get punched. I lucked out and never burned in, but I also decided that last year was likely my last year of jumping.

    As Iceaxe stated (somewhat).. eventually your ticket will get punched, but if you're loving what you do, then so be it..
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  16. #14

  17. #15
    There's a great song by Guy Clark called "The Cape" that just seems like it was written for Dean and others like him.

    Here's a verse and the chorus:


    Now he's all grown up with a flour sack cape
    Tied all around his dreams
    And he's full of piss and vinegar
    And he's bustin at the seams
    So he licked his finger and checked the wind
    It's gonna be do or die
    He wasn't scared of nothin', Boys
    He was pretty sure he could fly

    Well he's one of those who knows that life Is just a leap of faith
    Spread your arms and hold your breath And always trust your cape


    RIP, Dean.
    "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

  18. #16

  19. #17
    Happy to listen for Whisper stayed home this specific vacation.

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