Dean Potter continues upping the ante this year, racking up more daring and controversial feats. Last month, Potter achieved his hardest free-solo yet, a beautiful, 40-foot overhanging crack, Heaven (5.12d/13a) in Yosemite Valley. Ron Kauk put up the first ascent of this route, which can be seen in Sterling Johnson’s 2000 film, featuring Kauk and others, Ascending Rhythm. “You’re heading out to this tourist lookout on Glacier Point and you walk down these slabs and there’s this piece of granite that jets out,” says Kauk. He says between the views and the route ... “it’s like Heaven.” Not only is the route physically hard, but it is also mentally engaging: it starts nearly half a mile above the valley floor. A ground fall would result in severe injury or certain death, with the climber falling out of the crack and bouncing off more than 2,000 feet of slab.
Earlier this year, Dean free-soloed Separate Reality (5.11d), a Ron Kauk route, (first soloed by Wolfgang Güllich in 1986 and featured on Climbing's June 2002 EYEWITNESS special edition cover), and Dog’s Roof (5.12b), a Ray Jardine route. In May, Potter got plenty of additional exposure for his free-solo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, a stunt resulting in tighter climbing regulations in Arches, such as the ban on new bolting or climbing hardware.Comment on this story