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with Stefan Nestler

Dean Potter died in a wingsuit accident

Dean Potter (1972-2015)

Dean Potter (1972-2015)

One of the most extreme among the extreme athletes is dead. The 43-year-old American Dean Potter died in a wingsuit accident in Yosemite National Park, his 29-year- old compatriot Graham Hunt too. Both had jumped from Taft Point, an almost 2,300-meter-high view point on Saturday. Their bodies were found near a notch in a rocky ridgeline on Sunday morning. Obviously both crashed into a rock. Basejumping and wingsuit flights are prohibited in Yosemite National Park.

Always on a narrow ridge

Potter never cared about standards or what others said or thought. He was an extreme. Limits existed for him only in the sense that he wanted to overcome it. As a climber, he made two first-time solo ascents of legendary routes in Patagonia in 2002: Dean solo-climbed the “Supercanaleta” on Fitz Roy and the “Compressor Route” on Cerro Torre. But Potter’s main playground was Yosemite. On the granite walls there, he set new speed records, made free-solo-climbs or high-lined over abysses without any backup.

“Free as a raven”

Potter also fueled debates by taking his dog “Whisper” in a backpack on his basejumps and climbs. “I’m basically socially inept and can barely accomplish many rudimentary tasks of getting along in our modern world. My artist mind and athletic body leave me stranded much of the time”, Dean wrote three weeks ago. “I really don’t know how I’ve survived? Maybe it’s because I admire and study the adaptability of the forest creatures. I long to be as free as a Raven, away from cluttered normalcy and modern ‘needs’ such as screen time and conference calls. Somehow I’ve made a life of dipping my toes in icy water, feeling the lift of fresh clean air and the pull of planets overhead. Sure I lack a lot but it’s equally for sure that I Fly Free.”


18. May 2015 | 11:46