Potter Solos In Yosemite With BASE parachute rig

by Mick Ryan – UKClimbing.com The Rostrum In August, the American climber Dean Potter made a “BASE solo” (or FreeBASE) of Deep Blue Sea (7b+, 300m, Rathmaier-Ruhstaller, 2001) on the west side of the north face of The Eiger, Switzerland (UKC News Report: Aug 10) . The question asked by many climbers was when would somebody make a BASE solo of a big wall, particularly in Yosemite, perhaps of The Nose or the Salathé Wall? They are certainly tall enough at 3,000 feet (over 900m). The answer from our BASE and Yosemite expert is that such big walls have slabs and a slabby apron and that it would be difficult for a BASE soloist to orient themselves and fly away from the wall – if they fell off a move. However some Yosemite walls are steep enough, Rock and Ice reports: “The soloist Dean Potter has made the first solo of the Alien Roof (5.12b .. E5 6b)) on the Rostrum in Yosemite. For his solo of this very exposed, thin variation to the Rostrum, Potter wore a 5-pound BASE parachute rig. While BASE jumping in national parks is illegal, free soloing while wearing a parachute is not, and the technique affords a small modicum of safety in the event of a fall, assuming you can orient yourself properly mid-air, deploy your chute and fly away from the wall rather than into it. All of this, of course, before hitting the ground. Potter soloed to Alien via Rostrum North Face, an 800-foot, eight pitch 5.11c, considered one of the Valley´s finest long crack lines.”