Thanks to the reader with the semi-inappropriate screen name that sent me a heads up on this article.
Climbing has hit the front pages of The New York Times…sort of. Controversial climber, slack liner and BASE-jumper Dean Potter has a big article on his latest non-climbing adventure: a combination of highlining and Base-jumping. For those that don’t know, highlining is slacklining done at ridiculous heights with a tag line used for safety.
The article has video of him attempting to highline across a 180 ft. chasm in Moab, UT using nothing but a BASE-jumping parachute in the event that he has to bail, no safety lines whatsoever. Here’s a bit of a spoiler: he has to bail. Check out the article as well as the videos below showing various other Dean Potter exploits.
Dean Potter speed soloing the Nose on El Cap
BASE-Jumping at the Go Fast Games
Highlining in Yosemite I believe, with no protection
20 Feet off the ground slacklining in Germany
Dean Potter climbing in Moab, UT
An interview with Dean Potter and Steph Davis
Dean Potter is a glory hound! He is lame. These stunts are his last ditch effort to get publicity so he doesn’t have to get a real job.
I was going to refrain from editorializing in the actual post but I have to agree. I think it is unfortunate that this is how “climbers” get the most publicity…by doing something that has nothing to do with climbing. I wonder if they will put him on the front page of nytimes.com again when he inevitably dies trying to realize his dream of “human flight”.
I agree with craig. Especially since Alex Honnald (a strong enough climber despite the fact i disagree with his soloing escapades in the valley) has been taking down all of his supposed “crack testpieces” in the creek in just a couple tries each. Dean’s a tool, end of story. probably the lamest of the high-profile professional “climbers,” unless someone can name someone more self-centered, that is….
Whether his goal is to get publicity or if this kind of thing is really want he lives and breathes for, you got to hand it to the guy for succeeding. I agree though, this stuff is crazy and its sad that it takes these kind of stunts to get attention.
why do all of you people feel that it’s necessary to talk shit about someones personal accomplishments, and the key word is personal. yeah, dean’s a tool because he pushes his limits(not yours, his). yeah, dean’s lame because somebody reported on his accomplishments. and dean sucks because some upcoming kid can do all the indian creek “tespieces.” yeah, dean sucks because he climbed delicate arch(even though the park service saw nothing wrong with the ascent). wtf? why does it bug y’all so much to see somebody free soloing or highlining or basejumping? how do these actions affect your life so much that you have to take away from what somebody else does. from what i know of dean potter, he’s a reluctant “high-profile” climber that seems to be into pushing himself just that step ffarther. i respect all opinions but climbers attack fellow climbers more than the paparazzi follows lindsay lohan. ie., the flannimal(frb), and daves awesome free solo(on 8a and here). worry about yourselves and feel priveledged that there are people out there that will push life to places that most of us are scared to go. otherwise we’re sheep and none of us would know what is possible.
I’m curious, if the NPS didn’t see anything wrong with the ascent why did they institute a climbing management plan in Arches National Park after Potter’s solo?
in an interview with a parks employee, there was no condemnation of dean’s ascent, in fact they said that he hadn’t broken any rules. the plan you speak of came after the fact. whether or not dean’s ascent had anything to do with that is possible(i’m assuming that if enough people bitch about something the fed gov will make a law). but the fact remains that, at the time, he didn’t break any rules and people still rained the hate. everyplace that we climb is a sensitive place, why are some places more holy than others?
to start, nobody (ie. “all you people”) ‘talked shit’ about Macleod’s solo here. it was more of a critical review of the 8a discussion and the kairn.com article. that said, i’m not quite sure i follow the logic that someone’s ‘personal’ accomplishment somehow makes it inscrutable. the fact that many of these accomplishments find their way into climbing movies, interviews, and personal blogs places them directly in the path of criticism. if dave macleod soloed the 8b/b+…um…solo (without a photographer and a film crew) then there wouldn’t be much to discuss would there?
jacob said: “wtf? why does it bug y’all so much to see somebody free soloing or highlining or basejumping? how do these actions affect your life so much that you have to take away from what somebody else does.” my question is how exactly do comment blocks on blogs ‘take away’ from these ‘personal’ accomplishments? jacob said: “worry about yourselves and feel priveledged that there are people out there that will push life to places that most of us are scared to go.” why should anyone feel privileged that there are people “pushing life” to ostensibly scary places? i might find myself in awe, but feeling privileged? really? what does that even mean? hueco bound.
no offense to dean or anything, i find this pretty cool, but what is so impressive about this baselining or whatever? the only differnence between this and slacklining is that instead of being caught on the rope if you fall you fly down safely to the ground when you fall. i sure as hell wouldnt do it, but for someone whos done so many daring things, how is this any better then the others? if anything, its a lot safer then a lot of the stuff he’s done.
and personally, i dont feel priveledged nor am i in awe about this. its cool but has absolutely nothing to do with climbing.
Why can’t people celebrate his adventures in the name of human achievement? It’s a testament to what people can accomplish and I find it inspiring. If he advertises it to maintain his status and income as a full-time climber/adventurer, so be it. We all whore ourselves out professionally for sustenance. The next time you bring one of your professional accomplishments to the attention of your boss, pause and think of the parallels between you and what you’re criticizing Dean for. If he performs these things with a touch of showmanship, what’s the big deal? He loves what he does and he’s good at it. I bet most people couldn’t claim either, let alone both of those. Also, who says he has to be monogamous to climbing? Basejumping and slacklining are respectable disciplines. Mixing the two seems like an obvious next step.
I don’t have a problem with showmanship or being a “sponsor-whore.” I understand that such things are necessary to “live the dream.” But I find soloing, of any kind, for almost any reason, at almost any time to be a selfish activity that shows a blatant disregard for love others might feel for you. (I threw the almosts in there not because I’m equivocating but because I feel that it would be okay to solo a route to escape a life threatening situation, ie it’s okay to solo if and when soloing is safer than not-soloing).I understand I’m going to come under criticism and be told that “everyone takes risks, especially climbers.” I agree. Hell, getting into a car is pretty risky. But, though all (most) of us get into cars, we don’t all cut the brake lines when we do so. To do so wouldn’t make the fact that I safely arrived at my destination any more impressive, it would just make me look like an idiot.
I guess the idea of “pushing the limits” and/or “limits of human accomplishment” is great in a theoretical sense, but I totally agree with Peter…free-soloing seems a bit on the ultra selfish, borderline ego-manical side.
So while the original discussion was about a “climber” who walked a tightrope and wore a parachute in order to maintain his “climber/adventurer” status. It seems pretty logical to me that “climbers” who have families, jobs, and people who depend on them to come home safe after a trip. Those “climbers” might have feelings and opinions on the relative safety and/or intelligence of said tightroping or free-soloing.
I don’t recall any posts asking for Dean to be shot at high noon, nor did anyone ask him to refrain from using the word “climber” when referring to himself. But most people can see the correlation when other “climbers” who climb rocks, boulders, and other natural features might get lumped in with Dean in average peoples mind’s – due to the common word “climber”
So, yes, I think we all have a stake in this discussion and we have a RIGHT to comment on Dean Potter, Harry Potter, or whomever else we deem interested to talk smack about.
A correlary issue is why “risk” is such a huge factor in climbing. Not just inherent risk…but sport climbs with limited bolts -because it’s meant to be scary. Or free-soloing.
If that is what it takes to feel “alive”, I think I’ll enjoy my long, boring life. And talk smack about people who needlessly risk their lives in the name of “pushing human limits”. Expect Dean wasn’t doing it for the “human” race, he was doing it for Dean.
I think the bottom line in this case is that artificially increasing the danger of an activity (slacklining/highlinging) that basically anyone can do with relative safety comes off as a bit contrived. Is it kind of cool to see? Yeah. Is it advancing the human race all that much? Not really. I guess in a lot of ways you could make the same argument about soloing as well.
As for his delicate arch climb, I never really thought that much about, it but it was apparently serious enough for him to lose at least one sponsorship.
Just as an added bit of information on the video itself:
This video was put together for the NY Times by Sender Films (Return to Sender, First Ascent). If you have seen any of their films, they like to focus on some more extreme activities that are not directly related to climbing itself.
Be prepared to back up your shit talking. Dean Potter is one of the finest rock climbers of our age, his accomplishments prove that. The slackline bit was awesome. Pissed off you didn’t up with the idea? If you did, would you have the balls to do it?
No and definitely not…
I think the slackline bit is cool, just not really worthy of coverage in the NY Times
Not worthy of coverage in the NY Times? I believe that at least one person could say that about every single article ever printed in anything. It was definitely a cool thing to write about. How many people do you know that have slacked an entire gorge with a parachute as protection? It was innovative and unique and well worth mention in NYT.Can anyone do anything anymore and not have a bunch of naysayers try to chalk up reasons why it’s “lame”? How about everyone on here flaming away go out there and come up with something non-lame and report back.Good Luck.
A note about free-soloing:I have personally free-soloed and I enjoy it much because it is a mental challenge. What’s selfish is you worried about your own feelings if your loved one falls to their death. If you actually “loved” someone you would respect their dreams and desires no matter what they are, even if they are personally dangerous. Its not like they are forcing you to free solo. Oh, and besides, how many “free-soloists” actually die climbing. They generally don’t be because a real soloist isn’t fucking around, they solo because they know they won’t fall.
I know this is a very late post to this thread. But I want it to be written here that it is quite possible if not likely that Dean does what he does to challenge himself and to feel more alive and that the often cried criticism of Dean (and other climbers and extreme sports folks) that he does certain things to seek attention and fame may often reveal more about the nature of the critic than that of the criticized. I, for one, am inspired by this man.
I would like to point at that many many people engage in extremely dangerous sporting activities which do not receive even a margin of the “hate” put out by the community towards free soloist. Do you really believe that serious Motocross is a safe sport? How about extremely challenging Alpinistic pursuits? The reality is that more people die and are injured from MANY more sports and sporting activities than free soloist. This is %100 undeniable fact.
I’m personally sick to death of people bitching self righteously about Free Soloist being so incredibly selfish. Is it a selfish pursuit? Yes. Any high risk sport is, by nature, very selfish. Is it any more selfish or more dangerous than other high risk sports? Absolutely not.
Get over yourself and your condemnation of others. Bullshit like this makes me sick.