Feature

The man who thinks he can fly

Dean Potter is only happy when death is one misstep away, says Katie Arnold in ESPN The Magazine. A legend in the rock-climbing world, Potter, 35, has grown bored with scaling vertical cliffs with safety ropes, and now spends most of his time climbing wit

From the magazine

Dean Potter is only happy when death is one misstep away, says Katie Arnold in ESPN The Magazine. A legend in the rock-climbing world, Potter, 35, has grown bored with scaling vertical cliffs with safety ropes, and now spends most of his time climbing without ropes or a partner, parachuting off cliffs and rock formations, and  highlining —walking across chasms on loosely strung nylon ropes.  I’m addicted to the heightened awareness I get when there’s a death consequence,  he says.  My vision is sharper. I’m more sensitive to sounds, my sense of balance, and the beauty all around me. Something sparkles in my mind, and then nothing else in life matters.  His latest obsession is BASE jumping—leaping off cliffs and deploying a parachute at the last possible second. Soaring through the air has got him believing he might actually be able to jump one day without the chute, if he really, really concentrates and enters a trance-like state.  I know it’s insane to think that I could fly,  he says.  But to make it possible, you truly have to believe in it—to go to a place that’s not accepted. That’s all I think about.

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