Dean Potter Dies In BASE Jumping Accident At Yosemite

Extreme athlete and famed climber Dean Potter was found dead along with his climbing partner on Sunday morning, following an accident during a 7,500 foot wingsuit flight that they attempted the previous night.

Potter, 43, and Graham Hunt, 29, jumped from Taft Point on Saturday, according to the New York Daily News, which is located roughly 3,000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley, near the famed climbing spots of El Capitan and Half Dome. During their flight, both Potter and Hunt attempted to clear a notch in the granite cliffs, yet instead of making it, both struck the rock wall.

According to Mike Gauthier, Yosemite’s chief of staff, a spotter at the top of Taft Point watched both men during their wingsuit flight. After they fell out of sight, she reported hearing a “pop-pop” sound from the rock wall below her. Though she hoped that what she heard was Potter and Hunt opening their parachutes, neither man was able to do so. After rescue parties set out late on Saturday, they were able to spot Potter and Hunt’s bodies from a helicopter on Sunday morning, retrieving them later that afternoon, according to the New York Times.

Dean Potter, while a monumental figure in his chosen field, was no stranger to controversy. BASE jumping is illegal in national parks, and while authorities have worked to curtail the sport, Potter routinely flouted the rules. A 2006 climb of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park cost Potter his sponsorship from clothing manufacturer Patagonia following heavy criticism. A documentary released last year, Valley Uprising, caused Potter and several other climbers to lose sponsorship deals with Clif Bar.

Potter also faced criticism after filming video of himself flying with his miniature Australian cattle dog, Whisper, in a custom wingsuit. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Potter defended his actions, even in the face of those who asserted they amounted to animal cruelty.

Though he grew up mostly in New Hampshire, Potter became well known among Yosemite climbers some 20 years ago. Potter was the first to free climb El Capitan and Half Dome in 24 hours, he and engaged in a record climb of El Capitan’s nose route in 2001. Earlier this month, Dean Potter set another record when he climbed to the top of Half Dome in 1:19, completing his round trip in under 2:18.

[Photo by David Cannon / Getty Images]