Because of the climbers I follow on Instagram, I found out quite early this morning that Dean Potter had died while base jumping in the Yosemite.
I remember watching Reel Rock on the UCLMC’s trip to Portland, that was the first year I started climbing. And I remember being horrified by these free soloists and base jumpers. I thought they were clearly irresponsible people who risked their lives and the pain and trouble it would cause to their loved ones, by selfishly pursuing their dreams.
But as I continued to climb, and continued to watch more Reel Rock/climbing videos about these free soloists/base jumpers, I came to realize that these people aren’t crazy. They are just people who are sometimes driven by the need to challenge themselves, to confront their fears. I think, I can relate to that. When you’re paralysed by fear, afterwards, while thinking about that situation, some part of you needs to understand why you were afraid, and then to know if you could stop being afraid. And it is this desire to replace that fearful memory with a less fearful one, that I suspect will push me towards doing more multi-pitches in the future.
They are just trying to prove to themselves that they can.
I like to imagine that in the final moments before his death, had Dean Potter knew what his final fate was, he would have laughed at death in the face and said “I’m ready”.