Renowned rock climber Brad Gobright died in a fall Wednesday while rappelling down a Mexican cliff face after a ropeless ascent.
He was 31.
Gobright was climbing with Aidan Jacobsen, 26, on the Shining Path route down El Potrero Chico, Mexico. The climb reaches about 2,700 to 2,950 feet in elevation, authorities told ABC News.
The two had reached the top and were rappelling down when something went wrong with the ropes, Jacobsen told Outside magazine afterward. Both Jacobsen and Gobright fell, but the latter fell farther – 600 feet – missing the ledge that Jacobsen landed on. Jacobsen injured his ankle and was scraped up, but Gobright perished.
Outside called Gobright “a true climber’s climber” and a “sweet, irreverent, and charismatic figure” who lived out of his 1990s Honda Civic and centered his life around rock climbing. One of the most accomplished climbers in the U.S., Gobright was on a par with Alex Honnold, who famously scaled Yosemite’s El Capitan without ropes and was the subject of the 2018 documentary “Free Solo.”
Honnold remembered Gobright’s “insanely strong fingers” and his passion for climbing in an Instagram post.
“He was such a warm, kind soul – one of a handful of partners that I always loved spending a day with,” Honnold said. “So crushing. Brad was a real gem of a man. ... I’m sad. The climbing world lost a true light. Rest in peace ... “
The U.S. Department of State confirmed the death Thursday.
“We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Brad Gobright in Mexico on Nov. 27, 2019,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told NBC News. “We offer our sincerest condolences to his family on their loss. 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 was the second major climbing fall in a week. Last Sunday, American climber Emily Harrington had to be rescued when she plunged while ascending El Capitan in Yosemite, the same formation that Honnold climbed in his record-breaking achievement.
Jacobsen was helped down by Mexico’s Civil Protection Agency, police from Mexico’s Hidalgo state and other climbers who were nearby, according to ABC News.
Gobright was known for mentoring and encouraging other climbers.
Julie Anne Baxter, a close friend whom he had climbed with just before traveling to Mexico, told Outside late Wednesday night: “I’m devastated. I just don’t know if I can do this but I’m trying so hard.”