This past Saturday evening, on May 16, revered climber and BASE jumper and all-around extreme sports legend Dean Potter (43), alongside jump partner Graham Hunt, died after attempting a BASE jump and wingsuit flight from Taft Point above Yosemite Valley. Taft Point is a 7,500 foot promontory or headland that overlooks El Capitan, where fellow pioneers Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson recently completed the first free climb of Dawn Wall, “[prompting] a deeper reflection into the history of climbing, as well as its future.”
As Potter and Hunt took flight following their jump, a spotter saw them descend and soar into the night, but once they fell out of sight, she soon heard the tragic disaster unfold. Outside reports that the pair “had been attempting to fly along terrain that required them to clear a notch in a rocky ridgeline.” According to the New York Times, “[s]he heard a ‘pop-pop’ sound from below. She had hoped it was the smacking sound of their chutes opening somewhere in the darkening depths of the valley… But daylight brought the confirmation that it was not.”
I didn’t know Dean Potter personally. But that is not to say that I didn’t know Dean Potter inspirationally. The Dark Wizard’s pursuits instilled a dreamer’s sensibility in the most grounded of people, as they watched him do the undoable and conquer the unconquerable.