The best American rock climbers would already seem to have their hands full, from the Gunks and the granite crags in New Hampshire to the Hueco Tanks boulders in Texas, to the storied routes in Yosemite like Half Dome and El Capitan. So what was Dean Potter, one of America’s leading professional climbers, doing a mile above a canyon in China last weekend?
The enigmatic Mr. Potter was highlining, as he and other adventurers call this particular brand of insanity. Mr. Potter, 40, walked barefoot and untethered across some 130 feet of thin, tubular webbing that’s essentially a slightly loosened tightrope. He had no safety strap, no parachute, no backup. It was just him, the swaying line, a pair of headphones and the wind.
As he has previously said about highlining, “You slip, you die.”
“The footage is gripping, and to us it looks like he almost loses his balance in several spots,” said Rock and Ice magazine in a commentary about the video of the walk, which has now gone viral. “But this is just one of the reasons why climbers know him as the Dark Wizard.”
Some close-up photographs of Mr. Potter’s walk are here.
The line was strung above China’s so-called Grand Canyon, located in Enshi Prefecture in Hubei Province. It is a remote spot, rarely visited by tourists and unexplored even by experienced climbers or other extreme-sport athletes.
As daring and astonishing as it was, and although the height and distance have yet to be confirmed, Mr. Potter’s highline seems to have set no particular world record. It was in all likelihood, however, the longest and highest untethered line-walk ever completed in China.
Read the entire story on the NY Times online.