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Dean Potter and Graham Hunt killed in BASE jump

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by hank moon, May 17, 2015.

  1. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  2. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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  3. Rick Demarest

    Rick Demarest

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    hank moon likes this.
  4. townsend

    townsend

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    Sad news. I've been reading about Dean Potter for over a decade. A trail blazer, a free spirit (too free for some, having climbed the Delicate Arch). Extraordinarily diverse--rock climbing, slack lining, BASE jumping, wingsuit flying, etc.

    BASE jumping is dangerous enough, with the highest fatality rate per extreme sport, and it would seem that adding a wingsuit would add even more risk to the equation. RIP.
    Rapterman and Kuenn like this.
  5. Rick Demarest

    Rick Demarest

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  6. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I hope I'm broad minded enough to find common ground in both viewpoints.

    Most life-loving, sane people want to experience many of the things Stiles defends; friendships, sunsets, epiphanies, and popcorn. And I couldn't agree more with his position on the oft used, ofttimes hollow epitaph, "he died doing what he loved". Really? I'm betting, they would much rather have "lived doing what they loved".

    So, are the two viewpoints really that disparate? Aren't they both pursuing what they want out of life? If not, maybe a change is in order. Granted the risk factors may differ wildly - or do they really?

    If they knew, THAT particular activity, THAT day, would be their last... don't you think they would have opted out? And just maybe, some have. Just maybe, some have bailed on their original plans and elected for a relaxing evening at home, with friends and family - after taking the evening train from NYC to Philly. . . which only further substantiates - no such thing as zero-risk guarantees.

    Edit: At face value - as a staple for a happy life - canyoneering, or any extreme hobby for that matter, for me, probably doesn't even make the top ten. But the intangibles that are included; friendship, teamwork, watching out for each other (including complete strangers), extending and/or accepting a helping hand, problem solving, failure/success, enjoying and respecting this thing we call earth, etc, etc... pretty much IS the life I seek.
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
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  7. Steve Jorge

    Steve Jorge

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    ^
    Well said Kuenn. I too felt there were such valuable parts of each article. We each determine (or at least we think we do) our personal balance of risk/reward when it comes to these kinds of sports. Whenever I catch myself thinking, "that guy is nuts, why would he take that kind of risk" I think of the people who say that about me when I go backpacking, climbing, or canyoneering; and I think of myself as being at the very cautious/mellow end of their respective spectrums. I try to take the lowest amount of risk to achieve the parts of these sports that gets me the rewards I seek. It seems others need to take greater risk to get what they are looking for and I guess I respect that.
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  8. townsend

    townsend

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  9. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    Isn't this why they do it? There's a chance they might die! Isn't that why you go? To see if they cheat death!

    You need a dead guy once in a while to keep this shit alive. All Potter did was promote the next guys near death, and eventual death.
  10. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Maybe - maybe not, although there could be truth in what you say, for some. Alas, if cheating death was his goal - he failed miserably this last time.

    Granted, getting over and dealing with; the fear of falling, gear malfunction, wild-o-beasts mauling, etc. is something most outdoor enthusiasts have to come to grips with. And I think for the most part, one must put it way back in the recesses of the mind; to keep it from actually contributing to the very thing you're worrying about. I sure hope there is more to the outdoor extremist's psychology than playing some twisted game of Russian roulette.

    Suggestion, if you have a death wish on any given day, you might want to share that with your partners before embarking... cuz they may just want a few more epiphanies and popcorn.

    Several years ago when Potter climbed Delicate Arch, with all the post-climb hubbub, he said: (Maybe offers some insight into his motivation.)

    "When I climbed Delicate Arch... I didn't think the climb would do anything but inspire people to get out of their cars and experience the wild with all of their senses... I want to explain my actions, bring the facts to light, and hope that all of us can come to see the good in one another. First, I admit it...I am a climber. I feel compelled to climb most everything I see, and that included Delicate Arch. To me, all rocks are sacred. When I climbed to the top of the Delicate Arch it was my highest priority to do no harm to the rock or its surroundings. I climbed the Arch in the highest and purest way I could, and I left it the same way I found it.

    It is also a symbol for me, but where I saw it as a chance to commune with the arch through expressing my own art of climbing, others saw it as a violation of what they also feel is sacred. Again, I had no intention of doing something that would invoke such feelings, and for those who do feel that way, I apologize because that certainly was not my intention. Others have accused me of climbing the arch as a publicity stunt. As a professional athlete, recognition of what I do is part of the job.... I saw the climb as communing with nature, somehow, others have seen it as exploiting nature."
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
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  11. Ram

    Ram

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    base jumping adage

    Heard of someone who died.
    then...
    Know someone who died
    then....
    You die.


    More on the other fella. Seems a good sort
    http://www.outsideonline.com/1982461/remembering-graham-hunt

    Unknown outside of the Yosemite orbit, Dean Potter’s frequent flying partner was an accomplished climber and BASE jumper
    By: Tim Sohn
    May 20, 2015
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    21.5KSHARES
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    Graham Hunt (pictured here in Yosemite) was an accomplished rock climber. Photo: Fred Pompermayer

    Since the news began to filter out that two men had died in a wingsuit-flying accident in Yosemite on Saturday, thousands of words have been written about one of them, Dean Potter, 43, and far fewer about the other, Graham Hunt, 29.

    Which makes sense: Potter was a towering figure in the outdoor sports world, a renowned-climber-turned innovator, and a proselytizer for a range of high-altitude pursuits, among them highlining, free-BASEing, and, of course, BASE jumping and wingsuit flying. So when word came that Potter had died, the tributes poured out, many of them nearly ready-made, because, while tragic, Potter’s passing was not entirely unexpected.

    Hunt, on the other hand, was mostly unknown outside of the close-knit fraternity of BASE jumpers and climbers in the Yosemite orbit. What’s more, his complete disinterest in self-promotion and nearly non-existent digital footprint rendered him un-Googleable, which has meant that most of the coverage in the immediate wake of his death barely registered who he was, other than that he happened to be flying with Potter when something went terribly wrong. The basic narrative was, “Dean died, and this other guy was with him.”

    But among those who knew him and had climbed, jumped, and lived with him, Hunt had a reputation for soulful, unshakeable competence and confidence, for being reliably reliable when situations got tricky in the mountains, as they often do for this tribe. He’d progressed rapidly in his early twenties from the climbing gyms of Sacramento to the walls of Yosemite, with 5.12 first ascents to his credit. He was someone people turned to frequently when they needed a solid partner for exploits in the Valley. In recent years, he’d gravitated more towards jumping and wingsuit flying, and though he’d only been at it for five years, he’d gone full tilt, evolving from apprentice to being among the sport’s best. “Whatever he focused on, he became really good at, and he was probably one of the top wingsuit flyers in the world,” says Shawn Reeder, a photographer and climber who met Hunt shortly after he arrived in Yosemite as a 22-year-old. “He got really into jumping, and Graham and Dean became really good friends through jumping. He was Dean’s partner, his compadre.”

    Or, as a Facebook post from slackliner and BASE jumper Andy Lewis put it: “Graham Hunt was a G who rolled silent like lasagna. He was known only by those who needed to know.”

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    A sequence of one of Hunt's wingsuit flights in Yosemite. Photo: Fred Pompermayer
    Graham Hunt, or “Grambo” as some friends called him, was from Shingle Springs, California, near Placerville, and though he’d been living the life of a climbing vagabond for years, when he was not climbing, jumping, or traveling, he could generally be found in El Portal, steps from Yosemite’s entrance. Hunt had worked as a hotshot firefighter and carpenter, among many other short-term jobs, and had also done odd jobs around Yosemite, like working overnight shifts on a janitorial crew helping clean up park facilities. He was quietly charismatic and genuine, a man known for giving big, heartfelt hugs, reading books to children, and taking local kids bouldering. He drew people in with his warmth. “He was so present with people, no matter who they were,” says Reeder. “It was pretty apparent right away that he was a special guy, and also really talented at pretty much whatever he wanted to put his efforts towards.”

    Lately, his efforts had been directed at BASE jumping and wingsuit flying. “He got way into it,” says James Lucas, another friend, climber, and Yosemite fixture. “I bet he was the most prolific jumper in Yosemite.” He would jump with friends, jump alone, jump under the full moon, jump at dusk. And he got good. “He was the guy who could fly right next to you with the camera,” says Jeff Shapiro, a climber, BASE jumper, and hang-glider who climbed and jumped frequently with both Potter and Hunt and considered Hunt to be like a brother. “And he would laugh his guts out after.”

    News reports of the accident inevitably recorded Potter’s long list of accomplishments, among them his record for the longest wingsuit BASE soar, a four-mile, nearly three-minute flight off the Eiger in the summer of 2013. What they failed to mention was that Hunt made that jump with him. But even as Hunt progressed in the sport and watched how people around him were making a living by promoting themselves and their sponsors, he stayed out of the limelight.

    “He struggled with the idea of knowing that he needed to get himself out there to tap into that ability to make a living,” says Shapiro, who was supposed to meet up with Hunt and Potter in Yosemite next week. “It’s this internal struggle that we all have, but he wanted to, in his words, spend his life shredding.”

    Much has been written about Potter’s acknowledgement of and struggle with the obvious risk and danger of what he did. Hunt was no less thoughtful, according to those who knew him. A touchstone moment for both men was when their friend and frequent partner Sean “Stanley” Leary died in a BASE accident in Zion National Park in March 2014. Hunt, in a video posted on YouTube after his death, referenced the death of Leary, the man he called his mentor.

    “So that reality is there for sure,” he says, while the video alternates between shots of him in Yosemite, climbing, hiking, jumping, and talking. “But then there’s the cliché of, well you can die driving your car, and it’s fully true, man. So, I mean, I have to believe that we don’t have to die doing this. I honestly feel like I could be a 75-year-old man and still go for a hike and fly.”

    Though Saturday’s jump was the latest in a long line of slim-margin exploits, neither Hunt nor Potter would have seen it as anything out of the ordinary. Hunt, in fact, had executed a successful flight off Taft Point three days before his death.


    When the margin for error is mere inches, no matter how much control you have, or how good you are, it doesn’t take much for something to go wrong, and Hunt was fully aware of that. “I hung out with Graham quite a bit last month in Moab and we talked a lot about the jumping,” says Reeder.* “And I came away really respecting the space that he was coming from in making his choices. He knew the risk, and he knew that he was pushing towards the edge, but he also truly believed that he would be 75 years old and still doing this.”

    There have been low-key gatherings of friends in Yosemite as people process the latest loss in their small community. Hunt’s family came to the park Sunday, and Monday night people met at the trailer where Sean Leary used to live. “We talked and just kind of remembered them,” Lucas says, “and it’s definitely like people are starting to process it a bit.”

    In thinking of his BASE jumping friends and the way they lived, Lucas said he’d been mulling over a Tom Robbins quote from the novel Still Life with Woodpecker. “‘Unwilling to wait for mankind to improve, the outlaw lives as if that day were here,’” he recited. “And that kind of really embodied what these guys did.”

    There will be much hand-wringing, and many questions asked, about whether Hunt and Potter’s “outlaw” friends should re-evaluate the risks they take. Some may be inspired by their friends’ example to charge harder. “We as individuals make a community that CAN and DOES provide positive inspiration from doing all the ridiculously arbitrary things we are captivated to complete,” wrote Andy Lewis in a Facebook post, “[and] if we stick to our guns, stay true to ourselves, we as individuals can inspire an entirely new generation of ideas and actions.”

    But for others, there will be a lot of reflecting and processing ahead. “It really rocks your whole system,” says Shapiro, speaking of the deaths of Leary, Potter, and Hunt, “your ability to believe that if you make logical decisions, good decisions, that these things we do are sustainable. So there’s a lot of re-thinking.”

    *Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this piece attributed this quote to Shapiro.

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  12. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Thanks for sharing this article - I think. Although, I believe I understand less about the fire-in-their-bellies NOW than I did before I read it.

    Believing one will live to 75 and yet continually pushing the envelope "when the margin for error is mere inches" isn't exactly sagacious logic. At least they didn't die in a car on the way to pay the light bill.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  13. Alane Urban

    Alane Urban

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  14. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Heavy sigh...very sad story.
    Thanks for sharing it.
  15. Stephen

    Stephen

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    very powerful. you can climb a wall, you can fall, but you cant protect yourself with a parachute. something does not make sense there.
  16. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Should parks such as Zion and Yose allow BASE on a daily basis, during peak visitation hours? Prob not. I can see the anti-spectacle argument. Could there be some time frame where the resource is open to certain alternative uses that take advantage of unique topography, etc.? Seems a reasonable question. Why not one day a year, at least? Same for last rap in lower Echo ;)

    Door stays closed to Sinawava Harley Fest.
  17. gajslk

    gajslk

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    The current system of "don't ask, don't tell" seems to be working. Make a spectacle of yourself and get busted. Go low profile and no one spends any extra time trying to nail you ...

    Gordon
  18. Ram

    Ram

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    http://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-denver-post/20150805/282050505781804/TextView



    The final moments before daring BASE jumpers’ deadly plunge

    • 1 day ago August 05, 2015 9:02AM

    VIDEO When Dogs Fly trailer
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    WORLD-FAMOUS wingsuit flyer Dean Potter had strapped his iPhone to the back of his head and hit record before jumping from a cliff in Yosemite National Park in what was to be an exhilarating flight through a V-shaped rocky formation — a route that left little margin for error.

    Potter set the phone at this position to capture a video of his partner, Graham Hunt, behind and above him as the pair leapt off the granite diving board at Taft Point, 3500 feet (1066 metres) above the valley.

    Twenty-two seconds later the video abruptly stops. The two were killed when they slammed into the ridge line at 160km-plus attempting to soar through the notch in the rock formation called Lost Brother.

    Through a records request, The Associated Press obtained investigation reports about the deadly flight on May 16.



    Delicate balance
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    National Park Service investigators relied heavily on Potter’s bashed iPhone, interviews and a series of rapid-fire photos taken by Potter’s girlfriend, Jen Rapp, who stayed behind at the launch site as the spotter.

    The investigation concluded the deaths were accidental, but despite the video and photos of the jump, officials consider the specific reason why they died a mystery. Investigators listed several possible contributing factors — including indecision, distraction, miscalculation and air turbulence — as the jumpers made split-second decisions.

    Potter, 43, and Hunt, 29, were both experienced in the extreme sport of wingsuit flying, a dangerous offshoot of BASE jumping — an acronym for parachuting off buildings, antennas, spans such as bridges and Earth.



    Graham Hunt
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    They would glide frighteningly close to cliffs and trees, wearing the suits that have fabric stitched between the arms and body and between the legs, so jumpers spreading their limbs can stay aloft longer and control their path with subtle body movements.

    In 2009, Potter made the longest known BASE jump — off the Eiger North Face in Switzerland. He remained in flight for 2 minutes and 50 seconds, earning him National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year title.

    In his final flight, Potter stood with Hunt on the ledge in Yosemite.

    It was still light at 7.35pm with hovering rainclouds, according to the investigation. Potter wore a red suit, while Hunt’s was black and yellow. Hunt zipped his phone in his pocket, after trying unsuccessfully to text his girlfriend, who was waiting in the valley. Potter’s iPhone video recording captured what sounded like him saying “Ready?”



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    Life of adventure ... Dean Potter embraced the thrill of living in constant fear of death. Picture: Facebook/Dean Potter Source: Supplied

    Potter told Rapp that he planned to fly through the notch. If he lacked elevation, he would instead go around the ridge line. Rapp snapped photos of Potter making the leap, followed closely by Hunt.

    Seconds into flight, Rapp lost sight of them. Instead, she told investigators that she heard a “thwack” followed a second later by a “guuuuhhh.” She shouted in their direction, hoping the noises were parachutes opening, not impacts of bodies. She didn’t receive the text Potter usually sent with the word “safe” to assure her that he had once again beaten the odds.



    Walking high above Yosemite Valley
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    Dusk turned to darkness and desperation. Rapp drove to their agreed upon meeting place. Not finding the jumpers, she returned to Potter’s nearby home, where she found Hunt’s girlfriend.

    “Are they OK? Have you talked to them?” Hunt’s girlfriend asked. Rapp said she hadn’t.

    The two women at 10pm went to the residence of Mike Gauthier, Yosemite’s chief of staff and a friend of Potter. Gauthier urged the women to report the men missing and they made an emergency phone call. A dispatcher reported a woman calling, asking if any BASE jumpers had been arrested. Upon hearing a “no,” the caller broke down crying.

    A ground search that night turned up nothing, but a helicopter crew the next morning found their bodies.



    Dean Potter and his beloved Miss Whisper
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    Autopsies found that Potter had struck headfirst and that Hunt hit with the front of his body. Blood samples showed no drugs or alcohol for either man.

    Investigators say Rapp’s still photos show Hunt flying left, then right, then left and a final hard banking right before his impact. After Potter’s iPhone was repaired, the video shows him less than a metre above the ground just before the video stopped. Park officials did not provide the video to the AP, saying it was in possession of Potter’s family. Rapp declined an AP request for the photographs that she took.



    Dean Potter and Jen Rapp
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    An unnamed wingsuit flyer investigators consulted estimated that Potter and Hunt had flown through the notch about five times, a path well known among wingsuit flyers as being dangerous.

    The flyer inspected both wingsuits for the park service and found no equipment flaws, the investigative reports said.

    Among other things, they noted that Hunt may have been distracted by phone calls and texts he attempted immediately before jumping and that Potter may have seen his partner strike the ground and flinched, or he simply misjudged his elevation.

    “No one but Potter and Hunt will every truly know what happened,” investigators concluded.


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