**This article was originally published on May 16th, 2015.**
Legendary rock climber and BASE jumper Dean Potter, 43, and his flying partner Graham Hunt, 29, died wingsuit flying after a BASE jump in Yosemite National Park yesterday. It’s being reported that the two men jumped from Taft Point in Yosemite Valley and planned on flying through a notch in a rocky ridgeline.
“It’s kind of a trickier flight to go through this notch.” – Mike Gauthier, Yosemite chief of staff.
Yosemite Search And Rescue initiated a search last night but they were unable to locate the two BASE jumpers. This morning, a state police helicopter spotted the two bodies from the air. No parachutes had been deployed.
Dean was fearless. Dean was an innovator. One of the biggest innovators of this generation. He broke the rules of human ability. Dean set records in speed and solo climbing all over the world.
Dean set the speed record on the Nose of El Capitan multiple times.
Dean climbed the 3 biggest walls of Yosemite – Half Dome, Mt. Watkins, and El Capitan – in a single day.
Dean speed soloed Half Dome and El Capitan in a single day.
Dean free-soloed a first ascent on Patagonia’s Cerro Fitz Roy called “California Roulette”.
I spent a day with Dean lat year and he continually blew my mind. He was so mild mannered, it seemed impossible that he could be so bold. He told me about free soloing on Patagonia’s Cerro Fitz Roy and BASE jump/wingsuiting off the top – multiple times. He climbed the Fitz Roy in only 6 hours where normal climbers can take more than a week.
Dean was also an innovator in high-lining in insane places. High lining above enormous exposure with no ropes, no safety net, no second chances.
Dean even invented a new sport: FreeBASE. To FreeBASE, Dean would climb exposed walls with no ropes and only a BASE jumping parachute on his body for backup. When he fell, he’d pull the parachute and fly down to safety.
Using the FreeBASE technique he invented, Dean climbed the enormous 5.12+ route Deep Blue Sea, a limestone pillar on the North face of the Eiger.
Dean wasn’t one to shy away from trouble and controversy. Dean free solo climbed the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in 2006 against the Utah rules of not climbing named arches. Dean also frequently BASE jump/wingsuit flew with his dog, Whisper. Dean flying with his dog is well documented in the new movie “When Dogs Fly”.
Dean was also an endurance athlete who on May 3rd, 2015 speed climbed up and down Half Dome in a record breaking 2 hours and 17 minutes.
Dean was a soft spoken, almost shy gentleman who stood 6’5″ and did his own thing, his own way.
If you want to know more about Dean, please watch the new movie all about Yosemite climbing, “Valley Uprising.”
– Video of Dean Potter discussing death two years ago –