Dean Potter and Graham Hunt added an extra-difficult wrinkle, shooting through a narrow, V-shaped notch in a granite outcropping. There was zero margin for error — a standard that, tragically, the two extreme athletes didn’t meet.
Potter, 43, and Hunt, 29, were found dead about 50 yards apart below Taft Point, the 7,500-foot-high promontory overlooking Yosemite Valley from which they had jumped as the sun was setting Saturday.
Mike Gauthier, the park’s chief of staff, said photographs show the two men jumping off Taft Point and then flying for about 30 to 45 seconds until they reached the pass with rock ridges on each side about a half mile away.
He said Hunt had clipped the right side of the ridge as he entered the notch. Potter immediately cut left, possibly to avoid Hunt as he tumbled, and made it through the pass. He somehow lost altitude and hit the lower end on the left side of the notch. Both men were killed instantly.
“It could have been an evasive maneuver,” Gauthier said, trying to explain why Potter had crashed after it appeared he had made it through. “Someone else said they saw a clipped piece of a tree up there, so we don’t know for sure.”
Potter’s girlfriend Jenn Rapp shot video of the launch, then heard two impact sounds, Gauthier said. She tried to contact the men by text message and through an emergency radio, while Hunt’s girlfriend Rebecca Haynie waited below for them to land. The bodies were spotted the next morning by a California Highway Patrol helicopter.
Read the full story here.
IMAGE: Tomas Ovalle / Associated Press