Dean Potter’s death just the latest to strike Yosemite climbing community

Dean Potter walks on a slackline in Yosemite in 1998.

Dean Potter walks on a slackline in Yosemite in 1998.

(Kevin Wells )

The death this weekend of rock climbers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt in Yosemite National Park underscore the dangers of the sport.

Yosemite has long drawn both amateur rock climbers and “extreme” stars such as Potter.

Potter had jumped from the same point at least 20 times, and Hunt may have too, said Mike Gauthier, chief of staff for Yosemite.

Related: Dean Potter knew dangers of extreme climbing


Potter and Hunt jumped around nightfall Saturday from Taft Point, an overlook about 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley, said park spokesman Scott Gediman. They were wearing wingsuits, Gauthier said.

And while most excursions take place without incidents, there have been other tragedies.

Here are some cases from The Times’ archives.

2014 — Brad Parker

Parker fell hundreds of feet to his death just hours after his girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal.

Parker, 36, died when he fell from the face of Matthes Crest in Tuolumne Meadows, where he was climbing alone without ropes.

2012: Michael J. Ybarra

Ybarra was a freelance writer who was an extreme-sports correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and who contributed articles about the arts and books to the Los Angeles Times.


An adventurous traveler and veteran mountaineer, Ybarra, 45, was climbing alone in the Sawtooth Ridge area on the border of the park and Mono County and apparently fell 150 to 200 feet to his death.

2004: Two Japanese climbers

Two climbers from Japan were found dangling lifeless on the side of El Capitan after a blizzard stranded them.

The climbers were spotted by Yosemite rangers but could not be reached because of driving wind and snow. A helicopter crew later spotted the climbers about two-thirds of the way up the 3,200-foot face.


Their names were not released in coverage of the accident at the time.

They were among seven people on the famous climbing wall when the brunt of the storm hit.

1993: Derek Hersey

Hersey was regarded as one of the world’s best climbers, a daredevil among daredevils who did not use a rope.


But for reasons that authorities said may never be known, the 36-year-old Hersey plunged to his death from the granite face of Yosemite National Park’s Sentinel Rock. A native of Manchester, England, Hersey for the previous decade had lived in Boulder, Colo.

His body was recovered from a ledge at the base of the route he had chosen on 7,000-foot Sentinel Rock.

Source: Times reports.