moon_hill 2015-5-19 19:56
Early lifeDean Potter was born in 1972 to an Army officer in a military hospital at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and grew up in New Hampshire. He taught himself to climb when he was in high school in southern New Hampshire. He attended the University of New Hampshire, where he rowed varsity crew and the coach urged the team not just to beat the competition, but to "own" them. Potter decided that he didn't want to "own" anyone and he quit college and pursued his passion for climbing.
Free climbingPotter climbed many new routes and completed many solo ascents in Yosemite and Patagonia. He free-solo climbed a small part of El Capitan in Yosemite, where he pioneered a route he called "Easy Rider" by climbing down the slabby upper pitches of the route Lurking Fear (hardest moves rated grade 5.10a) and then traversed across Thanksgiving Ledge to complete the last six pitches and six hundred feet of the route Free Rider (hardest pitch 5.11d, two pitches of 5.10d, 5.10b, 5.10a and 5.7). This was the first major section of El Capitan to be free soloed, but his path avoided the significantly more challenging climbing on what is the easiest way up El Capitan below (several 5.12 pitches, with difficulty up to 5.12d on Free Rider).
Speed climbingIn July 2006, he climbed The Reticent Wall, one of the hardest routes on El Capitan, in 34 hours and 57 minutes with Ammon McNeely and Ivo Ninov, shaving five days off the existing time. Potter and Sean Leary set a new speed record for climbing up The Nose of Yosemite Valley's El Capitan in November 2010. They ran up the 31-pitch route in 2 hours, 36 minutes, 45 seconds. This was only twenty seconds quicker than the previous record, set that October by Yuji Hirayama and Hans Florine.
Highlining and BASE jumpingPotter was known for his exploits in highlining and BASE jumping. He was introduced to slacklining by Charles Victor Tucker III, aka Chongo, one of the first three people to highline across Lost Arrow Spire. Potter completed a variety of highline crossings without benefit of a safety lanyard, backup line or BASE-jumping parachute. Some of these crossings included lines suspended as much as 3,000 feet (910 m) above the ground in Yosemite National Park.
In 2014 he released the 22-minute long film When Dogs Fly that chronicled the extreme adventures of his dog Whisper. The film became a viral phenomenon, but also attracted criticism from animal rights activists.
Delicate Arch climbControversy surrounded Potter after his 2006 climb of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, for which he lost his sponsorship from the Patagonia clothing company. "There wasn't any legal reason for me not to climb it," Potter said of Delicate Arch, despite well-established tradition forbidding climbing named features in the park. This incident resulted in a blanket ban on the activity within Arches National Park. Potter had previously created conflict with Park authorities by slacklining between the Three Gossips.
"I didn't see any moral reason not to climb it. I didn't hurt it," he claimed, though rope grooves in the soft sandstone were later found, possibly created or enhanced by the professional photographers Potter brought along to publicize the climb.
Potter said he would not climb Totem Pole, the spire in Monument Valley that Navajo imbue with religious significance. Delicate Arch, despite its prominence on Utah license plates, doesn't have the stature of that sacred Arizona tower, he said. "I didn't see a reason why it's wrong, why we shouldn’t mesh with nature," Potter said. "At first Potter's handler in Patagonia spread the word of his climb by calling a press release to the Salt Lake Tribune. Public outrage was immediate, though, especially in Utah, where many see Delicate Arch as a symbol for the state's wild beauty."
Potter's Delicate Arch climb became the topic of the song Not All Roses by rapper Odub (Kris Hampton), released on the web on April 2, 2007. On April 11, 2007, Potter's lawyer sent Hampton a Cease and Desist letter advising him to halt all distribution of the song. Hampton subsequently released a follow-up song called Cease and Desist.
DeathOn May 16, 2015, Potter and Graham Hunt were killed while attempting a wingsuit flight from Taft Point above Yosemite Valley. Their flight path required them to clear a notch along a ridge before the final descent to the valley floor. Both failed to clear the notch and collided into the ridge. Neither had deployed their parachute.