Dean Potter

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Dean Potter
Dean Potter
Dean Potter
Born (1972-04-14) April 14, 1972 (age 43)
Occupation Rock Climber
Known for rock climbing, alpinist, BASE jumper, and highliner

Dean Potter (born January 18, 1972) is an American free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper, BASEliner, and highliner [1] who grew up in New Hampshire. He is noted for hard first ascents, free solo ascents, speed ascents, and enchainments in Yosemite and Patagonia.

Early life[edit]

Dean Potter was born to an Army officer. 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 where 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. [2]

Free climbing and free spiriting[edit]

Dean Potter has climbed many new routes and completed many solo ascents in Yosemite and Patagonia. Dean Potter free soloed a small part of El Capitan in Yosemite. He pioneered a route he called "Easy Rider" by down climbing the slabby upper pitches of the route Lurking Fear (hardest moves 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 Capitain to be free soloed, but his path avoided the significantly more challenging climbing on what is the easiest way up El Capitain below (several 5.12 pitches, with difficulty up to 5.12d on Free Rider).[3]

Speed climbing[edit]

In 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.[4] 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.

Highlining and BASE jumping[edit]

Potter is known for his exploits in highlining and BASE jumping. He was introduced to slacklining by Chongo,[5] aka Charles Victor Tucker III, one of the first three people to highline across Lost Arrow Spire. Potter has completed a variety of highline crossings without benefit of a safety lanyard, backup line, or BASE-jumping parachute. Some of these include lines suspended as much as 3,000 feet above the ground in Yosemite National Park. He has also done a few of the most thrilling base jumps in the world.

Delicate Arch climb[edit]

Controversy surrounded Potter after his 2006 climbing 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.[6]

"I didn't see any moral reason not to climb it. I didn't hurt it,"[7] he claimed, though deep rope grooves later came to light, possibly created or enhanced by the professional photographers Potter brought along to publicize the climb.[6]

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.[7]

"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."[6]

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.[8]

Notable ascents[edit]


  1. ^ Real Water Productions: Moonwalk - Dean Potter, cathedral peak yosemite, california, 12 July 2012 Vimeo. Retrieved 4 January 2014
  2. ^ Katie Arnold (2007). "THE MAN WHO THINKS HE CAN FLY". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  3. ^ Roy, Adam. "The First (almost) Free Solo of El Cap". Outside Magazine Blog. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ McDonald, Dougald. "Reticent Wall in a Single Push". Climbing Magazine. Skram Media LLC. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ Janice Ahn, Brian Murphy, Ritesh Batra, Daniel Patterson, Keith Davis (2008-12-18). Chongo (Short film). Cisco. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  6. ^ a b c Neville, Tim. "How Delicate Was Dean?". Outside Online. Mariah Media Inc. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Thuermer, Angus M. "Climber Potter, Patagonia agree to split the synchilla". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Levine, Whitney. "Not All Roses: Climbing Rapper in Hot Water over Delicate Arch Parody". Climbing Magazine. Skram Media LLC. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ MacDonald, Dougald (2009-01-08). "Haley Solos Fitz Roy's Supercanaleta". Climbing Magazine News. Skram Media. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  10. ^ Pegg, Dave (2003-06-24). "Immaculate Concepcion". Climbing Magazine News. Skram Media. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  11. ^ Hansen, Holly (2006-09-11). "Potter in Free Solo Heaven". Climbing Magazine News. Skram Media. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, Dougald (2006-11-10). "Scary Half Dome Route Gets Second Free Ascent". Climbing Magazine News. Skram Media. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  13. ^ Thomasma, Melissa (2008-08-13). ""FreeBASE": Dean Potter on the Eiger Nordwand". Alpinist. Alpinist LLC. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 

External links[edit]