Dean Potter has died in a BASE jumping accident in Yosemite National Park, with authorities saying the 43-year-old extreme athlete was killed while attempting a wingsuit flight from a famous peak.
Potter was attempting the jump with Graham Hunt when the jumpers’ spotter lost contact with the pair. The two were jumping from Taft Point, a 7,500-foot promontory known for its dangers.
Search crews set out on Saturday night to look for Hunt and Potter, and on Sunday their bodies were found. Authorities said neither of their parachutes were deployed.
“The men’s bodies were recovered by noon,” Tom Evans wrote on his El Cap Report this afternoon, “and many friends gathered throughout the morning and afternoon to seek comfort and share their grief.”
In the wake of Potter’s death many shared condolences online and remembered him as a pioneer in the world of climbing.
“Our hearts are saddened by the news of the passing of Dean Potter and Graham Hunt in a BASE jumping accident last night in Yosemite,” wrote Mammoth Mountaineering Supply on Facebook. “Dean was a pioneer who was looked up to and admired by many. We want to give our deepest condolences to the family and friends of both of these men.”
Friends also remembered Potter as a man dedicated to pursuing new ground.
“Dean was one of my original climbing mentors, and taught me that if we let go of the perceived limits of convention, we can go huge,” wrote Cedar Wright, a friend and fellow professional climber. “He was always unabashedly himself, and this is something we all should strive to embody.”
Dean Potter was known for climbing new routes in Yosemite and Patagonia and for his speed climbing. In 2006 he climbed The Reticent Wall, a difficult and dangerous route on Yosemite’s El Capitan, in 34 hours and 57 minutes.
Potter also generated controversy with some of his exploits. After he scaled Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in 2006, he lost sponsorship from the Patagonia clothing company. Though it wasn’t explicitly illegal, there had been a long-established tradition to avoid climbing the park’s named features.
Potter also slacklined between the Three Gossips, another named feature of the park, and was accused of leaving behind deep grooves.
“I didn’t see any moral reason not to climb it. I didn’t hurt it,” he claimed afterward.
Dean Potter was also killed during an illegal jump. It is against the law to BASE jump in Yosemite park, and most other places in the nation.
[Image via Gripped.com]