Dean Potter, an athlete dedicated to extreme sports such as climbing and BASE jumping was one of the two men killed while attempting to fly in a wingsuit in Yosemite National Park.
The news broke out after someone called for help late Saturday after losing contact with the 43 year old athlete and his friend, Graham Hunt. They were last seen jumping from a place called Taft Point, park ranger Scott Gediman said.
He said rescue efforts took place during the day and night but they were not found. On a second rescue effort with a helicopter Sunday morning, they spotted their bodies in Yosemite Valley. According to the crew, no parachutes were deployed.
BASE jumping is an acronym for fixed objects in which someone can parachute from: building, antenna, span, and Earth (such as a cliff and mountain). It is very dangerous and its illegal in all the national parks. It is possible that the two jumped late at night to avoid being seen by park rangers. The athletes, who lived near Yosemite, were really popular in the park and well known in the climbing community, Gediman said.
”This is a horrible incident, and our deepest sympathies go out to their friends and family,” Gediman said. ”This is a huge loss for all of us.”
Dean Potter was known for setting the bar high and climbing places without any kind of gear or equipment. Most of the time, he would use his bare hands to climb big walls and cliffs.
The athlete was heavily criticized back in May of 2006 after he climbed Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. He was doing nothing wrong because it is not illegal, but outdoor clothing company Patagonia decided to drop his sponsorship anyways. Their reason was because his actions ”compromised access to wild places and generated an inordinate amount of negativity in the climbing community and beyond.”
Potter defended his dangerous climb, saying the purpose of it was to inspire people to ”get out of their cars and experience the wild with all their senses.”
Other sponsors would do the same last year, saying they took risks that made the company too uncomfortable to continue financial support. He wasn’t the only one, four other climbers were cut with him.
The popular extreme sports athlete dedicated his last few years to BASE jumping and climbing. He also helped produce a film that showed his BASE jumping adventures with his companion, a dog named Whisper.
Six years ago, he set a record for completing the longest BASE jump from the Eiger North Face in Switzerland by flying for 2 minutes and 50 seconds in a wingsuit. This record earned him an award from the National Geographic magazine.
A close friend and photographer who was there when he made the record jump, said Potter was different from other climbers because not only did he have skill, but he had boldness.
”In the adventure world, I’ve lost a lot of friends to climbing and BASE jumping,” Corey Rich said. ”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 favor, and sadly Dean pulled the unlucky card.”
In the things Potter wrote, he talked about the dangers of the sport.
”Though sometimes I have felt like I’m above it all and away from any harm, I want people to realize how powerful climbing, extreme sports or any other death-consequence pursuits are,” he wrote in an October 2014 blog posted on his website. ”There is nothing fake about it whether you see it in real life, on YouTube or in a glamorous commercial.”