An acclaimed free solo climber has died after falling 300m while trying to descend a cliff face in Mexico.
American climber Brad Gobright, 31, was abseiling down a cliff with Aidan Jacobson, 26, in El Potrero Chico, a popular climbing destination.
Both men fell as they made their descent, but Mr Jacobson escaped with an ankle injury while Mr Gobright fell to his death.
The US State Department confirmed Mr Gobright had died and offered its “sincerest condolences” to his family.
“We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation and are providing all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment,” it said.
The climbers had been taking the mountain’s Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path route, which reaches 850 to 900m high.
They were using the technique of simul-abseiling, by which two climbers descend opposite strands of a rope and act as counterweights to each other.
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According to Outside magazine, the men had not tied knots in the ends of their ropes, which could have been potentially life-saving.
Many climbers avoid tying “stopper knots” as they can cause ropes to get stuck.
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These are some shots taken on the desert road trip I took last week. The trip was ten days long and we sampled different types of climbing. Long, short, winggate, solidified mud, exposed calcite, scary basalt. We climbed trad, sport and even bouldered. Some times it was very hot and other times it was very cold. We slept in the dirt, the back of vans and fancy hotel rooms. At times things got very chaotic but at other times it was calm and silent as I stared off into the vast openness. The trip wasn’t really about projecting and sending hard. It was more about getting variety in a relatively short amount of time. I hadn’t taken a trip like this in a really long time and it was actually a very refreshing experience. I’m teaming up with @gramicci_climb to make a short film about the trip. Pic 1: The Six Star Crack 📷 @tradisplaid Pic 2: Castleton Tower Pic 3: @alicehafer on Castleton Tower Pic 4: @maison.deschamps in The Fisher Towers Pic 5: 📷 @maison.deschamps Pic 6: Monument Valley. @evolv_worldwide @frictionlabs
A post shared by Brad Gobright (@bradgobright) on Nov 22, 2019 at 10:21am PST
Mr Jacobson told the magazine that the accident was “a blur”.
“I was a bit above him,” he said. “I was on the left. He was on the right. Then all of a sudden, I felt a pop, and we started dropping.
“He screamed. I screamed. I went through some vegetation, and then all I remember is seeing his blue Gramicci shirt bounce over the edge.”
Mr Jacobson said his fall had been broken by a bush before he struck a ledge.
Two Costa Rican climbers who had been above the two men witnessed the accident and helped Mr Jacobson to the bottom of the cliff.
Mr Gobright was a highly experienced climber and had once held the speed record on the Nose of El Capitan.
The publication Rock And Ice described him as “one of the most accomplished free solo climbers in the world”.
Many people shared tributes to the young American on social media.
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I’m so sorry to hear that @bradgobright just died in a climbing accident. He was such a warm, kind soul – one of a handful of partners that I always loved spending a day with. I suppose there’s something to be said about being safe out there and the inherent risks in climbing but I don’t really care about that right now. I’m just sad for Brad and his family. And for all of us who were so positively affected by his life. So crushing. Brad was a real gem of a man. For all his strengths and weaknesses (like his insanely strong fingers, or living out of a Honda Civic…) at the core he was just a good guy. I guess there’s nothing really to say. I’m sad. The climbing world lost a true light. Rest in peace…
A post shared by Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold) on Nov 27, 2019 at 9:12pm PST
One of his climbing partners, Alice Hafer, wrote: “He had a magic about him on the rock, unlike anyone I’ve ever met.
“He was so supportive and encouraging, always pushing me harder and believing in me. I can’t believe that not even a few weeks ago he was sitting next to me as we drove home from Arizona.
“I’ll cherish those moments always. He will be so missed, forever. Love you always Brad.”
Another climbing partner, Maison Deschamps, wrote: “Brad climbed for himself because that’s who Brad was, a climber.
“He didn’t have to talk to people, he didn’t need the best sponsors, all he needed was the freedom of the climb. Rest In Peace Brad. I will forever remember your hard work and bravery.”
Mr Gobright’s death comes after the fall of another high-profile climber, Emily Harrington.
Ms Harrington was taken to hospital earlier this week while trying to scale Yosemite Park’s El Capitan and shared her injuries in an Instagram post.