One of the more celebrated careers in extreme sports has come to a tragic end in Utah's Zion National Park. Sean "Stanley" Leary of California, a base jumper, climber, and stuntman, has been confirmed as one of two jumpers who died in the park earlier this month, reports the Los Angeles Times. A friend says he appears to have been killed instantly when he clipped a notch in the mountain during a solo, moonlit jump on March 13. The 38-year-old, famous for exploring new routes up mountains in Venezuela and Antarctica, is being mourned by the climbing community, which describes him as friendly and humble despite his amazing exploits. Among them: more than 50 climbs of Yosemite's El Capitan, where he scaled a 2,900-foot wall in a record-setting 2.5 hours. It was at El Capitan that the nickname Stanley was born; Leary had packed a typical Stanley-brand claw hammer for the climb, rather than one made just for climbing.
Leary's wife is seven months pregnant, and friends say his death is doubly tragic because he took up the sport that ended up killing him in the wake of the 2006 death of his girlfriend, a Brazilian climber who died in a Utah car crash. "Right before she died she made him promise her that he would keep pursuing adventure," friend and film producer Nick Rosen tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "He was really, really low and base jumping became this affirmation of life for him. It's really tragic because, in a very real way, he had since risen from the ashes and had found love again and was looking forward to family life." (Another renowned base jumper was killed during an August jump.)