My comments on the passing of Dean Potter – just my humble opinion

Big wall climbing

Dean Potter – a view we won’t see anymore.

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.

View from Taft Point

View from Taft Point

Graham Hunt R.I.P.

Graham Hunt R.I.P.

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

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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Dean Potter, one of Yosemite’s premier free climber dies in BASE jump off Taft Point.

Dean Potter has been a fixture of the Big Wall climbing world for several years.  Yesterday, while “wing-suit” BASE jumping off the edge of Taft Point, he and his co-jumper, Graham Hunt died..

BASE jumping involves free falling and opening a parachute near the ground. In this case, both men were wearing the bat-like outfit that allows a person to have some control. Their parachutes did not open. BASE means  buildings, antennae, spans, and earth. It’s illegal in national parks.

In 1993, Susan Oatley died jumping off El Cap. She was part of a group of jumpers trying to show that BASE jumping was safe and should be allowed. It’s not a crime until you do it, so rangers were right there watching. Her husband was down below filming.

BASE jumping is very VERY dangerous… the fatality and injury rate is 43 times higher than parachuting from a plane. Of the 200 BASE jumpers who have died since 1981, 51 were wearing a wing suit.

A wing suit similar to the one worn by Dean Potter

A wing suit similar to the one worn by Dean Potter

Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) had no luck finding the men through darkness. Early Sunday,  a state police helicopter spotted them and rangers extracted their bodies.

Outside Magazine has posted an article on the incident. Potter had done many amazing climbs, but became the “bad boy” after he climbed Delicate Arch in Utah.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Here we come, walkin’ down the street. We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet.” – The Monkees

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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Need a place to stay near Yosemite? Try San José Family Camp; it’s open to all.

If you want to get away from the congestion at Yosemite, or can’t snag a campsite, here’s another idea. Did you know you can stay a tad outside the park at the San Jose Family Camp?

Freindly camp site

San Jose camp – a kid friendly alternative to Yosemite

It’s run by the City of San Jose and is just east of Groveland. It’s on 47 acres of leased land from the U.S. Forest Service. The middle fork of the Tuolumne River runs through it.

While it appears to be kid-oriented (well, it is), you can also rent a tent cabin for up to six. Perfect for your half Dome group. The Curry Tent cabins only hold 4…or 5 if you don’t mind snuggling 2 in one of the larger beds.

You can get one of the 65 units. NOTE – Tent camping is not allowed – you have to be in a tent cabin.  For about $125 a night. This is really $70 plus a ton of fees. AND you don’t need to be a San José resident. I just checked and there are openings mid-week in June . . . July and August are pretty open. Call (408) 794-6208 or read the details.

Bonus – there is a cafeteria on site with three squares. You will be on granola in the car to make the early Half Dome hike. (Be on the Happy Isles trail at 5:30.) Dinner after your day at the park will be welcomed.

Bring earplugs – there will be alot of families with their offspring.  Aim your GPS for 11401 Cherry Lake Road, Groveland, CA 95321. That’s just off Highway 120 near the west gate of Yosemite. About an hour to the valley.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “When a problem comes along, you must whip it. Before the cream sets out too long, you must whip it. When something’s goin’ wrong, you must whip it. Whip it good.” – DEVO

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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