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Daredevils Die in Yosemite Stunt

Dean Potter was among best-known extreme athletes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2015 1:47 AM CDT
Updated May 18, 2015 6:27 AM CDT
Daredevils Die in Yosemite Stunt
Potter was famous both for his skills and his boldness.   (Wikipedia/Filmfest St. Anton)

(Newser) – Extreme athlete Dean Potter, renowned for his daring and sometimes rogue climbs and BASE jumps, was one of two men killed while attempting a wingsuit flight in Yosemite National Park, a park spokesman says. Someone called for help late Saturday after losing contact with Potter, 43, and his climbing partner, Graham Hunt, 29, a park ranger says. They had jumped from a 7,500-foot promontory called Taft Point; a helicopter crew spotted their bodies in Yosemite Valley yesterday morning. The men wore wingsuits to help them glide, but parachutes designed to slow their descent had not been deployed, according to the ranger. In recent years, Potter was known for his BASE jumping exploits, some of which included his dog.

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Earlier in his career, he was famous for pushing the boundaries of climbing by going up some of the world's most daunting big walls and cliffs alone, using his bare hands and without ropes. He took the sport to an extreme level with highlining, which ESPN described as "basically a wobblier version of a circus tightrope." Clif Bar withdrew its sponsorship of Potter and four other top climbers last year, saying they took risks that made the company too uncomfortable to continue financial support. The same year, Potter's friend and climbing partner Sean "Stanley" Leary died during a BASE jump in a wingsuit in Zion National Park in Utah. Potter was among a group of people who recovered Leary's body. For more on Potter, read this 2008 ESPN profile, which contains one eerie detail: a recurring dream Potter had that he was "convinced ... was a premonition of his death." (Read more base jumping stories.)

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