Facing Death, One By One

Dean Potter

Another sad week for the world of sport as we lost more members of our community. Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were found after a BASE jump gone wrong, and in Jackson Hole, an avalanche in The Sickle claimed the lives of two locals: Luke Lynch, and Stephen Adamson Jr. who later succumbed to injuries sustained.

This is the 2nd time in a year that we’ve lost people ‘all at once’, it seems. In late September JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson were killed in an avalanche; that same day, American pro Liz Daley met her end in another slide.  All 3 were in South America.

Why do the Mountain Gods insist on claiming our heroes in groups?  It could be argued that the late season skiing is to blame – the wet snow being heavier and thus more unpredictable. But that says nothing for the wingsuit accidents. (Dean Potter’s GoPro footage has surfaced; we won’t link to it out of respect to his family. It’s the Internet; you can find it if you really want to.)

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The news sends ripples through the world of skiing and BASE, as well as the sports community at large. It forces us to confront our own mortality. As long as we’re out there doing – objectively – stupid stuff, things can go wrong.

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It doesn’t matter if you’re jumping off of a mountain or making your way through trees… sometimes, your number just comes up.  This is no different to living in a city: some people just don’t hear that bus rolling down the street, but the risk factor is so much more apparent in sports-friendly towns.  Couple that with our generally smaller communities (as opposed to the relative anonymity of Vancouver, Toronto, or New York City,) and the hole left behind by these men and women – friends – is felt by those that knew them, and even those that didn’t.

One of the only certainties in life is death.  How we shuffle off this coil is something over which we can have control. You can die by stubbing your toe, or you can go out in a blaze of glory. Hug your friends, ready your will, and live life as long as you can.  We hate writing these stories, so don’t call it quits just yet.

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