Climber and adventure photographer Cody Tuttle, 32, died in a paragliding accident on Aug. 14 in the Sierra Nevada. His emergency InReach sent a message to the The Inyo County Sheriff’s department from north of Striped Mountain in California. A Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks helicopter found Tuttle, but couldn’t reach him until the following morning.
There’s no information about whether Tuttle activated the InReach while flying or after crashing, but he was one of three flyers who took took off from Walt’s Point near Lone Pine. The other two landed safely.
Tuttle, originally from Michigan, was an ace paraglider who specialized in flying in remote alpine locations. This July, he and Jeff Shapiro hiked and flew across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over 18 days.
“After 18 days of hiking and flying our way across some of the most stunning and remote landscapes I have ever seen, we found ourselves sitting around a fire drying out our clothes and boots after crossing over a mile of braiding river with nothing but pure joy in our souls,” Tuttle wrote in a blog post here.
“We had just experienced something that words cannot describe, something that changed the way we look at the world, and how we value those we spend time with. The world is quickly changing and these moments are fleeting.
“The time is now to go have an experience like this, to see the world, and fight to protect these wild places. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is worth fighting for.”
In 2015, he was on an expedition to Annapurna when the 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. “This changed the way I looked at the world,” Tuttle said in a Lowa ambassador film. “I began to switch my focus from documenting action sports to sharing stories of humanity and exploring how I could use my influence as a photographer to tell the stories of the voiceless.” The trip inspired Tuttle to improve his flying to hopefully return to attempt remote flights in the Himalayas.
Tuttle was well aware of the dangers of paragliding and in 2017, after Matt Segal nearly died in a paragliding accident, he said here in Cross Country magazine, “So, the question I have been asking myself is: how do we keep our ambition in check, yet still push the boundaries of the sport?
“How do we remain true to those child-like feelings, which made us take those first flights before any knowledge of what was possible? How do we keep emotion out of the decision-making process while participating in a sport that at its core delivers such powerful emotional experience? As a pilot, I face this as my greatest work in progress.” Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.