This story was written July 2011 posted in the Supertopo.com forum.
The first time I met Dean Potter was just after he speed solo'd a route on Half Dome. In the photo I had, Dean's hair was shaved off and he was zipping through an area of the route known as the Zig Zags. The photo gave me the impression that he was just as tall as me, a few hairs above 5' 10.” While attending the Outdoor Retailers Show I was hoping that I could find him to shake his hand and land his signature. At some of these shows there is a lot of people running around in the isles and at times, you have to creatively get through them to get to one place or another. I kept bumping into this shaggy-haired dude that was wearing his name tag backwards. I must have bumped into him a dozen times or more as I searched for Dean. Yes you guessed it, once it dawned on me, that guy was Dean.
Dean's hair had grown back and was quite long. I could not believe how tall he is as he towered over me. He smiled at me with a look in his eyes like saying "you again" when I asked for his signature and shook his hand. I know that many people look at Dean as bad boy who likes breaking the rules, but to me he was always really warm and awesome when we saw each other at the many trade shows following. Dean has brought climbing, slackening, soloing, climb-base jumping to a new level. His spiritual center is stronger that any other climber I have met.
Steph Davis is a different story. Steph was easy to identify at the shows, I mean, how could you miss her? Steph is really beautiful. She always hung out with the other girls at the 5.10 booth whom she is sponsored with. At first Steph shook my hand and gave me her signature, but for years following she insisted on me leaving her alone. I am not a stalker but a professional paparazzi who is constantly seeking to preserve anything to do with the history of rock climbing. Steph is an amazing climber especially when she is climbing cracks. Some of the photos of her really give me goosebumps as the exposure is so extreme, and she is free soloing the climbs using no ropes, but yet she looks so peaceful and calm. Eventually she warmed up to me and was open to signing anything I presented to her.
I remember one show where Steph brought along her dog named Fletcher. Fletcher is a sweet dog which seemed kinda out of place probably thinking "I hope somebody does not step on me." The show was quite crowded but Steph did a great job guarding Fletcher from injury. The day was winding down and it was the usual "Beer-30" time where free beer flowed at many of the manufacturer booths. At this particular time of the show my friend Robert hastily works every booth across the entire show collecting beer glasses from the manufacturers. Robert would find me later to show me all of his beer glass trophies, at the same time forgot to even have a beer for himself. I however saw my perfect opportunity to be with Fletch.
I noticed that Steph and Dean were hanging out at the Five Ten booth and Fletcher was there as well. This for sure was my golden opportunity!!! I grabbed a Five Ten sticker, peeled half of the back off, and hung out with Fletcher using the sticker to pet the dog. The sticker wadded up with hair which I was hoping that it did. Fletcher was loving the attention and I received many dog kisses during the fun. I remember stopping with the petting for a second, slowly looked up at Dean where he and Steph were sharing a look of WTF, and then both would stare down at me. Steph went back to her conversation with the girls and I exclaimed to Dean "You just don't know," "You just don't know." Dean said back to me "Yes I do, Yes I do.” Climbing gear is totally fun to have for the museum. But I also search for the really unique items as well. Fletcher was in photos with Steph in many of the rock climbing magazines. So to me Fletcher was a climbing superstar. I was totally psyched to add Fletcher’s hair to the museum.
Continuing the story 2015:
Over time Steph and Dean split up and were no longer dating each other. At the trade shows I would still see them both running around with friends and hanging out at their sponsor booths. Steph would at times visit the Phoenix Rock Gym and had many compliments toward the gym. I ran into Dean many times at the 2014 Outdoor Retailers show which was held in Salt Lake City Utah. Dean was carrying around his close friend which was a dog named Whisper. In one of the climbing videos Dean took Whisper along on a wing suit jump so to me Whisper was a totally bad ass dog!!! At the trade show I was ready for Whisper where I had a ink pad ready to get Whispers dog paw signature. Dean thought it was really cool that Whisper was now represented in the Karabin Climbing Museum. The following show Dean was the celebrity of Ruff Wear products where at certain times during the show anybody could go to the Ruff Wear booth and say hello to Dean while getting Whispers dog paw signature. I was psyched that Dean took my idea to the next level!
Unfortunately Dean passed away during a wingsuit flying accident in Yosemite May 2015.
Climbing magazine August 1, 2000, page 19
(signed) photo by: Eric Perlman
Rock & Ice magazine, ........................., page 28
(signed) photo by: Jimmy Chin