Dean Potter

Potter has been a fixture on the climbing and BASE-jumping scene in Yosemite since the late 1990s.

According to Yosemite chief of staff Mike Gauthier, the pair made the jump late Saturday.

Their spotter heard two sounds that could have been impacts or could have been the noises made by parachutes snapping open.

She followed standard protocols, first trying to reach the pair by radio, with no luck, and then moving to a predetermined meeting place.

“They were optimistic, thinking that the men might have been arrested,” says Gauthier.

BASE jumping is illegal in Yosemite National Park.

Potter first came to prominence in Yosemite in the late nineties, when he began making bold solo and free-solo ascents of many of the park’s classic rock routes.

By the middle aughts, he’d elevated slacklining—tightrope walking on a piece of webbing—to an extreme art form, making safe crossings of such notable features as Lost Arrow Spire, in Yosemite, and the Three Gossips feature in Arches National Park.

Many times he’d make these crossings with no safety tether.

In 2008, he climbed the 5.12 Deep Blue Sea route on the north face of Switzerland’s 13,020-foot Eiger with only a parachute on his back.

He dubbed the sport free-basing.

He also began crossing highlines using a parachute for safety.

Potter 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.

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.

Dean Potter has been a visionary influence in climbing for 20 years.

I grew up hearing about what he was climbing.

He sort of shaped the direction of climbing for this generation. He was a very creative influence on climbing — never the best climber, but he took it in all these different directions.

On May 16, 2015, Potter and Graham Hunt were killed while attempting a wingsuit flight from Taft Point above Yosemite Valley.

While attempting to maneuver through the cliffs, each in turn collided with the rocks.

Their bodies were discovered by a helicopter searching for the two men. Neither one had pulled his parachute.