Mexico US Climber Killed

Climber Aidan Jacobson sits inside an ambulance Wednesday after a fall while rappelling down a rock face in Mexico. Jacobson’s companion, famed California climber Brad Gobright, died in the fall.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — California rock climber Brad Gobright reportedly reached the top of a highly challenging rock face in northern Mexico and was rappelling down with a companion when he fell to his death this week.

Climber Aidan Jacobson, of Phoenix, Arizona, told Outside magazine he was with Gobright. Jacobson said they had just performed an ascent of the Sendero Luminoso route in the El Potrero Chico area near the northern city of Monterrey. Jacobson also fell, but a shorter distance, after something went wrong in the “simul-rappelling” descent, the magazine said.

The technique involves two climbers balancing each other’s weight off an anchor point. In online forums, many climbers described the technique as difficult and potentially dangerous.

Civil defense officials in Nuevo Leon state said Gobright, 31, fell almost 1,000 feet to his death Wednesday. The magazine account described the fall as 600 feet. Jacobson suffered minor injuries, officials said. Gobright’s body was recovered Thursday.

The publication Rock and Ice described Gobright as “one of the most accomplished free solo climbers in the world.” Friends on Friday described him as a dedicated climber who would travel the West Coast, living out of his Honda Civic, following the weather on a diet of gas station food.

“In some ways, I think he was such a fixture of the climbing community and such a big character on the scene, I feel like I’ve always known him,” said his friend Alex Honnold, who was the first person to ascend Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan without ropes or safety gear. “He spent almost every day of his life doing exactly what he wanted to be doing.”

Jacobson said the pair might not have evened out the length of the 80-meter rope between them, to ensure each had the same amount, because Gobright’s end was apparently tangled in some bushes near a ledge below them. That might have caused Gobright to essentially run out of rope; without the balancing weight of the other climber, both would fall. Jacobson fell through some vegetation and onto a ledge they were aiming for, injuring his ankle.

Samuel Crossley, a climber and photographer, said he first met Gobright about three years ago while filming “Safety Third,” a film chronicling Gobright’s life as a free solo climber. Crossley said Gobright considered the photographer’s perspective while climbing, taking direction well. He said his photos of Gobright are some of his favorites.

Despite being an elite climber, Crossley said Gobright enjoyed living out of his sedan, noting other elite climbers live out of vans.

“Brad was Brad, that was the beauty of it,” Crossley said.

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