BASE jumping with a dog … it sounds like a completely crazy idea. But that’s just what one of our longtime adventurers has done
Dear Potter is one of the world’s most renowned extreme adventurers. He roams the world showcasing his innovative rock climbing, linewalking/slacklining, free-solo climbing and basejumping skills in places no one has ventured before. He invented a new hybrid free-BASE climbing and BASE-line walking sportsform which have made him one of the most iconic and pioneering adventurers of his generation. The boundary-pushing American adventurer, 42 has been featured in ”The Superclimbers of Yosemite” in National Geographic magazine and on “The Man Who Can Fly” on the National Geographic Channel. He was named NGC Adventurer of the Year for his record-setting wing-suit flight off the Eiger. You may have seen the instant classic video “Moonwalk,” which went viral, portraying Potter walking a high line on California’s Cathedral Peak in front of a luminescent full moon.
But this time it is not Potter who caught the headlines. Nope it was his dog Whisper!!
Anyone who knows Potter knows that his beloved best friend, Whisper, is always at his side. The four-year-old, 22-pound mini Australian cattle dog dances with excitement before hiking, climbing, and even surfing with her human family, which also includes Potter’s girlfriend, Jen.
Potter explains: “I bring Whisper with me as much as possible. I don’t feel right leaving her in the car or at home. Whisper accompanies me on most climbs that I do. If I can’t take her with me I make sure she has someone else to hang out with. Whisper is tuned into my emotions and is always trying to figure out what I need and how she can help me in her own doggie way. Whisper is always ready for an adventure and all that she wants is to be with her pack and keep her family safe and together.
I’ve noticed most people understand how lucky Whisper is to live such an active life outdoors, together with her family 100% of the time. Much of my inspiration for this was taken from the famous story by, John Muir: Stickeen, The Story of a Dog (1880). Here the renowned adventurer and naturalist goes on several harrowing trips into the mountains in Alaska with his loyal companion, Stickeen.”
So in the next installment of Whisper’s action packed adventure life, Potter decided to take her basejumping!!
In his latest film project – aptly named ‘When Dogs Fly’ – Potter explores his fantasy of wing-suit flying with Whisper, the rigorous steps he took to make it happen safely, and the dilemma it stirred in his conscience. The 22-minute independent film When Dogs Fly premired at the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride.
Potter about this kickass adventure:
“I’ve been pursuing some of the most dangerous arts known to man for the past three decades (Climbing, Linewalking and Human flight). I’ve never suffered serious injury and hope to remain healthy for the entirety of a very long life. Though I realize, some of this is luck, I also realize I have a methodical, well-thought-out strategy and safety system that reduces human error and gear imperfections and keeps us safe. Whenever I enter hazardous terrain with Whisper-dog, I secure her with a Ruffwear DoubleBack Harness. This harness is incredibly overbuilt for a 22-pound pup and that makes me feel very confident she will never become disconnected from me and the anchor. The harness is strong enough for a human and exceeds the strength of my own harness that I’ve taken some very long “whippers” (falls) on, like this one on an early free attempt of the Center Tombstone in Moab, Utah.
Additionally, Whisper is always attached to me with 2 full-strength locking carabiners and a 10mm climbing rope that holds thousands of pounds and is made for humans to trust their lives to.
Last summer when I was wingsuit BASE-jumping with Whisper she never once didn’t want to come along. In fact, whenever I put on my wingsuit or pack my parachute, little Whisper nestles close and begs to come along.
“All Whisper wants is to be with her pack family. When we go on adventures, she goes on adventures. She’s just a loyal pup with a very adventuresome papa.” —Dean Potter
Whisper surely is not the first adventurous dog. Some time ago Oscar the dog traveled the entire globe in an exploit dubbed the ‘World Woof Tour’ covering over 200,000 km.
But Whisper was to set other records.
So one day Potter took Whisper up in the Swiss mountains and rappelled her down on the famous basejumping spot ‘the Mushroom’ at the side of the Eiger North Face. He strapped her in a harness, outfitted her with ear protection and some glasses, turning her into a real action sports hero!
And then they jumped. Together. Making Whisper the world’s first basejumping dog!