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Making the impossible, possible: Climber scales the Eiger without safety equipment, then jumps off



By Mail Foreign Service

Last updated at 6:09 PM on 20th April 2010




Whether it is jumping off the world famous Eiger, flying through the air in a wing suit or perilously balancing on a 30-foot long 'slack line' hundreds of feet above a valley floor, American adventurer Dean Potter has it covered.

Constantly pushing the boundaries of human endurance, 38-year-old Dean is revered among the extreme sports community and these incredible photographs offer a small glimpse into his ability.

Captured by his friend and climbing colleague Beat Kammerlander, Dean displays his array of differing free climbing, base-jumping and slack-lining skills across the world.

Most spectacularly is Dean's ascent of the 13,000ft Eiger mountain in Switzerland using his free-base climbing method for the first ever time.

Scroll down to see video



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Climbing legend: Dean Potter climbs the north face of the Eiger without any safety equipment. Once he reached the top ,the legendary climber jumped off and opened his specially designed 6lb parachute


'Free-base is a combination of free climbing and base jumping,' said the American, who is planning a European slideshow presentation tour detailing his greatest achievements later this year.

'Free climbing is an ascent of a mountain without any safety equipment and base jumping involves diving off high buildings and mountains, flying through the air and breaking your fall with a parachute.

'So I designed a parachute that weighs only 6lbs and which I carry in a small pack on my back.

'A normal parachute weighs up to 14lbs, which is too heavy to carry when climbing up a mountain.

'Using the new parachute enables me to climb to previously unthinkable heights because I know I have the safety of the parachute if I slip or can not continue.

'So in the summer of 2008 I became the first man to free-base to the summit of the Eiger and return myself to the ground with my parachute.'




Dean Potter executes a free solo climb and fall with parchute at Lauterbrunnen in summer 2008 as he prepared for his ascent of the Eiger

Spending the summer in Lauterbrunnen, in Switzerland, near to the Eiger, Dean trained on the limestone cliffs that surround the Eiger waiting for the perfect weather conditions to climb the sheer face.

'I practised my free climbing and base jumping all round the area before my ascent on 6th August,' said Dean.

'Myself and Beat had mapped out an ascent of the Deep Blue Sea route up the Eiger.

'It is called that because of the distinctive blue limestone colour of the rock. It is also an incredibly difficult climb.

'But with the parachute I felt confident.'

Despite the parachute, some sections of the climb offered severe dangers.

'Even though I had the parachute, there were still some sections of the climb that could have killed me,' said Dean.

'Right at the start of the Eiger the rock is very loose for the first 50 feet and if I slipped and fell the parachute would offer little protection and I would probably die.'


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Daredevil for life: Dean Potter high-lining at the Three Gossips in Arches National Park, Utah

'It was crazy after the Eiger,' said Dean.

'I climbed the north buttress and I haven't looked back with my desire to push myself.

'I have expanded my other activities too, such as my slack lining.

'Beat and I went to the Arches National Park in Utah where there are spectacular natural rock outcrops and formations.

'There I tight roped from one outcrop to another hundreds of feet above the ground.

'That is kind of fun.'


Dean, who starred in the Channel 4 series 'Daredevils' last year, is now planning to travel to Europe to give a slideshow presentation revealing the fears and dangers behind his most hair raising achievements.


However, due to last week's volcano eruption in Iceland, the tour was cancelled.

A new schedule for Dean's European tour will be confirmed later this year.

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