Dean Potter was a superb big wall climber. Not only was he a fixture at Yosemite, but he went up many many of the hardest climbs. While he did them the normal way, he also morphed into a higher adrenalin regime – FREE solo climbing. No ropes – just a bag of chalk.
He died Saturday. A big loss to the community. R.I.P.
I recently blogged about his record run up Half Dome. He didn’t go the whole way up the normal trail. He climbed up Snake Dike…a dike on the western side of the rock. Wow. And he still set a record of 2 hrs 17 min.. Kyle Williams held the record at 2 hrs 23 min. Watch Kyle’s description in this video.
I am not a climber…not that I’m afraid of falling…no, it’s that if you do fall, the sudden stop concerns me. You are being pulled to the center of the earth at 32 feet per second – PER SECOND. You are accelerating as fast as a rock thrown off the Tower of Pisa. Ask Galileo.
Potter later got into the QUOTE Sport UNQUOTE of wing suit flying. Giggle that and you will see many YouTubes. It is the closest man (or woman) has come to flying. Well, gliding, actually. Like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Neat.
Howsomever, there are big risks. After zooming down thousands of feet with a GoPro clamped tightly on your helmet, you pop a parachute and softly touchdown. Beyond just coming down, many people advance to flying within feet of walls….they almost touch them. This is classed as a BASE jump – illegal in Yosemite. National Geographic had 4 men doing it off Half Dome – full well knowing it was taboo. Bad form NG!
Apparently, to get a good rush, my guess (only a guess) is that Potter and his buddy, Graham Hunt, jumped off Taft Point and began their flight. In seconds, they maneuvered to fly through an opening in the cliff’s spires. If this is hard to visualize, here’s a shot looking down at this type of terrain.
Not to dwell on the crash, they hit hard. real hard. Sad. Graham Hunt was an up and coming extreme athlete himself. He lived in El Portal to be close to the climbing scene. He was also a regular at Moab.
Guys and gals. Living on the edge is one thing. Leaping off it is another.
Grab for the gusto – carefully.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow-what a ride ! ” – Unknown
MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com