Dean Potter, b. 1972, USA
Soloing for me is about being completely in the moment, not worrying about the past or future, but just being right here, right now. That’s why I do it.
The Long Run 6c A1 M7, 2100 m, Cerro Torre, new route, following whole SE Ridge of the mountain and summiting two other “cerros” on the way: El Mochito (by a new route, 6a, 250m) and El Mocho (by Benitieres, Anker-Piola, ED-, 6c A1), with Marko Prezelj and Stephen Koch
Separate Reality 5.12a, Yosemite, third free solo ascent
Dog’s Roof 5.12b, Yosemite, first free solo ascent
Reticent Wall (VI 5.7 A5), El Capitan, speed ascent in 34 hours and 57 minutes, with Ammon McNeely and Ivo Ninov
Southern Belle V 5.12d, Half Dome, second ascent of the route, with Leo Houlding
Heaven 5.12d/31a, Yosemite, first free solo ascent
Titanic ED 6+/A2, 90°, 1000m, Torre Egger, repeat and first one-day (23 hours) ascent of the mountain, with Steph Davis
Bridwell-Staszewski V 5.10, El Mocho’s East Pillar, Patagonia, he BASE jumped off the top, introducing this sport to Patagonia
Conception 5.13+, Day Canyon, Utah, first free ascent of one of the desert’s hardest cracks
Super Couloir VI 5.10 WI3+, Fitz Roy, free solo ascent in 6 hours 49 minutes, the first person to free solo Fitz Roy
Compressor Route VI 5.10 A2 WI4, Cerro Torre, solo ascent in 11 hours from the glacier
California Roulette VI 5.10+ WI5, Fitz Roy, west face, a new route established free solo in 9 hours 50 minutes
Standing on the top, I knew it was my ultimate climb. It was the biggest, hardest thing I’d ever done, but also the purest.
Regular Route VI 5.12, 23 pitches Half Dome + Free Rider VI 5.12d, 34 pitches, El Capitan, the first person to free climb Half Dome and El Cap in a day (23 hours 23 minutes). He freed the crux pitch of Free Rider at night wearing five headlamps in order to see holds.
The Epitaph 5.13b, 3 pitches, Tombstone, Utah, first free ascent, with Steph Davis. He led the crux second pitch – a 70-meter rope-stretcher – while Steph followed it free and led the final 5.12 pitch.
It’s the most aesthetic line I’ve ever seen on a desert formation, plus it’s only five minutes from our house!
The Potter-Davis Route V 5.11 C1 WI4, the north face of Poincenot, Patagonia, a new route with Steph Davis (Cl 205). The line was established alpine style in 25 hours “day”. (AAJ 2001/294)
Half Dome (Regular Route VI 5.9 A1) + Mt. Watkins (South Face VI 5.9 A3) + El Capitan (The Nose VI 5.9 A2), the first one-day ascent of three Yosemite grade VI walls, with Timmy O’Neill
The Nose, El Capitan, speed ascent in 3 hours 59 minutes 35 seconds, the first to break the four-hour barrier on the route, beating the 9-year record, by Hans Florine and Peter Croft (4 hours 22 minutes) with Timmy O’Neill
The Nose, El Capitan, speed ascent in 3 hours 24 minutes 4 seconds, with Tommy O’Neil. They took just 20 cams, and simul-climbed whenever possible. They led a 32-pitch route in 4 blocks – O’Neill to pitch seven, Potter to Boot Flake on pitch 16, O’Neill to the Glowering Spot on pitch 25, and Potter to the top. O’Neill took a 10-meter fall while simul-climbing the second pitch.
Blind Faith 5.11d, the Rostrum, Yosemite, the first free solo ascent of the route
The Regular North Face, The Rostrum, free solo ascent
Astroman V 5.11, free solo ascent, second person (after Peter Croft) who made the ropeless ascent of the route, he took rarely climbed a variation to the Boulder Pitch.
When I finally started the climb, it was like being inside a dream. The sharpness of light, the colors, the texture of the stone.. everything seemed to slow down around me.
Northwest Face, Half Dome, Yosemite, speed ascent in just over 2 hours + Steck-Salathe, Sentinel + The Nose, El Capitan, speed enchainment– 21 hours 37 minutes, with Timmy O’Neill
Royal Arches, Yosemite, solo ascent in 57 minutes car to car
Salathé Wall, El Capitan, speed record, with Jose Pereyra
We simulclimbed the entire route. We never saw each other the whole route, which we did in ‘one pitch’, carrying a lot of carabiners and using fixed protection.
The Casual Route, The Diamond + Directissima, Long’s Peak Chasm View Wall + Syke Sickle, Spearhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, free solo enchainment in 11 hours
The Casual Route, Long’s Peak Diamond, free-solo ascent in 3 hours 59 seconds from car to car
Northwest Face, Half Dome + The Nose, El Capitan, Yosemite, solo speed ascent in a total 23 hours, first one-day solo ascent. Two days later Hans Forine did the same thing in 21 hours 3 minutes.
I was in the moment the whole time. It was the purest climbing day I’ve ever had.
Crack House, Moab, first ascent, desperate 85-foot roof-crack boulder problem leading to an insecure lip acounter, likely the hardest crack in the desert at the time
It’s just a such beautiful feature. It’s a place where Indians used to hang out.
South Central 5.12R, Washington Column, the first free ascent, with Rick Cashner
It was pretty runout 5.12 section in the middle of the climb. On that crux pitch, Rick couldn’t follow, so I pulled the rope and gave him a free line. He then followed a slab pitch we named the Long Dond pitch, on really rotten holds, super scary, impossible to lead. So we both found our own way there.
Silent Line 5.13R, Gold Wall, Ribbon Falls Area, Yosemite, first free ascent of the first pitch of the climb
Regular Northwest Face, Half Dome, speed-solo ascent in 4 hours 16 minutes. He free-soloed most of the route with his rope on his back. When necessary he pulled on bolts and cams. The previous solo record was… 20 hours 56 minutes.
Regular Northwest Face, Half Dome, speed ascent in 2 hours 54 minutes, with Jose Pereyra
King Tut 5.13a, Mill Creek, Utah, ground-up solo first ascent of 40-foot route, Dean also free-soloed other routes at Mill Creek at this time: Techno Christ, Scavenger, King of Sting, Sinister and Undertow. Some of them were 5.12 or a 5.13 climbs.
The Crippler 5.13+, Utah, ground-up no-rope first ascent
Steck-Salathé, Sentinel, Yosemite, “party” free-solo ascent, with Timmy O’Neill
It was an epic. I had never climbed the route before. It was over my head at the time. Every off-width I’d go up facing one direction and have to climb down and go up facing the different way.
The Razorback V8, Hueco Tanks, Texas, early repeat
Super Euro Deluxe V8, Hueco Tanks, early repeat