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  1. ITV Report

Tributes paid to Dean Potter following BASE jump death

Dean Potter on a freehand climb Photo: Facebook/Dean Potter

Dean Potter, the extreme sportsman who died with a friend in an illegal BASE jump in Yosemite National Park this weekend, was well-known for pushing the limits with his dangerous exploits.

He was famous for his audacious, solo, bare-hand climbs up some of the world's most terrifying cliffs and walls - usually without using ropes, and periodically lost sponsorship for his trouble.

He sprung to notoriety in May 2006 after he made a free solo climb of the Delicate Arch in Utah's Arches National Park.

Arches National Park in Moab, Utah Credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Though the climb was not illegal, outdoor clothing company Patagonia dropped its sponsorship, saying his actions "compromised access to wild places and generated an inordinate amount of negativity in the climbing community and beyond".

Potter said his intention had been to inspire people to "get out of their cars and experience the wild with all their senses".

Last year, meanwhile, Clif Bar also withdrew its sponsorship of Potter and four other climbers, saying they took risks that made the company uncomfortable.

Dean Potter walks barefoot on a rope between two mountain peaks in China in 2012 Credit: REUTERS/China Daily

Still, Potter was also famous for his feats. In 2009, he set a record for completing the longest BASE jump from the Eiger North Face in Switzerland by staying in flight in a wingsuit for two minutes and 50 seconds. The feat earned him the Adventurer of the Year title from National Geographic.

A photographer who documented that jump, and who knew Potter for more than 15 years said he was remarkable especially for his boldness.

"In the adventure world, I've lost a lot of friends to climbing and BASE jumping," Corey Rich said.

"On one level, you lose a friend. But it's also difficult to be surprised because BASE jumping is the most dangerous thing you can do. The odds are not in your favour, and sadly Dean pulled the unlucky card."

Potter, 43, and his friend Graham Hunt, 29, crashed late on Saturday after leaping from a 7,500ft promontory called Taft Point, according to park ranger Scott Gediman. Their bodies were found on Sunday morning.