• What I've Learned: Sonnie Trotter
  • What I've Learned: Mark Udall
  • Reinhold Messner: What I've Learned
  • Listening for the Echo: The Klem Loskot Profile
  • Layton Kor Dies
  • Climbers We Lost In 2012
  • Life on Hold: The Ian Powell Story
  • Rope Jumping with Dan Osman
  • Mike Foley: Never Enough
  • Hayden Kennedy: Superballistic
  • Naomi Guy: What I've Learned
  • Dave Macleod: What I've Learned
  • Thomas Bubendorfer: Eiger Legend Back in the Game
  • Q&A: V15 Maestro Nacho Sanchez Unleashed
  • Francesca Metcalf: Meant to Compete
  • Maurice Herzog Dies
  • Kurt Albert: Free Wheel
  • Mason Earle: Crack Ropegun
  • Mayan Smith-Gobat: Climber for all Seasons
  • John Long: What I've Learned
  • Nik Berry: Obsessive Crusher
  • TNB: Tony Scott, Climber, Movie Maker, Lived and Died Large
  • Who's Next?
  • Todd Skinner: The Renegade
  • Tom Patey: The Tiger of Yesterday
  • Patxi Usobiaga: The Bionic Man
  • Michael Reardon
  • Max Turgeon and Louis-Philippe Ménard: Alpinists and Ice Climbers
  • Kurt Albert: The Climber Who Invented Redpointing
  • Josh Wharton: The Alpinist
  • John Rosholt: Climber and Gambler Disappears in Las Vegas
  • The Stonemasters Climb at Pirates Cove
  • John Bachar's Last Interview
  • John Bachar Remembers Michael Reardon
  • John Bachar by Henry Barber
  • John Bachar Remembered by Duane Raleigh
  • John Bachar by Doug Robinson
  • John Bachar and the Bachar-Yerian First Ascent
  • Colin Kirkus: Climbing's Greatest Unknown
  • Alex Puccio
  • John Long: A Man for All Seasons
  • Galen Rowell: The Vertical World
  • The Prophet
  • The Guy Whose Nuts Revolutionized Climbing: R.P.
  • Randy Leavitt
  • Brian Kim Spotlight
  • Rob Raker
  • Ueli Steck
  • Kemple and Lindner Almost Free El Nino
  • Crack Attack
  • Climbing World Mourns Todd Skinner
  • Ammon McKneely
  • A Tour of Magic and Mystery
  • Tanja Grmovsek
  • Rob Miller
  • Climber Hugh Herr Honored by Esquire Magazine
  • Climber Eric Brand Dies
  • Chuck Fryberger, Climber and Filmmaker
  • Chris Schulte Profile
  • Beth Rodden
  • Joe Kinder
  • Hazel Findlay
  • To the BASE Layer
  • Pete Ward
  • Mad Max
  • Chris Boskoff
  • Bradford Washburn
  • Revenge of the Nerd
  • Chris Lindner
  • Renan Ozturk
  • One-Track Mind
  • Tim Clifford: Escaping the Quantum Hole
  • Traveling Light
  • Colette McInerney
  • The Banner Years
  • Pakistan: The Big and Free
  • MAD DASH
  • Kris Hampton
  • KEEPING THE FAITH
  • Jules Cho
  • Extreme Eleven and Beyond
  • Bob Bates, 96, Takes His Final Journey
  • Jody Hansen
  • Home Girl
  • An Encounter with Fred
  • The Average Hero Sir Edmund Hillary, 88
  • More Than One Trick
  • Dave Graham
  • Red River Sugar Mama
  • Phillip Schaal
  • An Advanced Beginner
  • The Last Samurai:
  • THE BERMANATOR
  • Sonnie in Scotland
  • Offwidth Hombre
  • Moonlight Solo-Nata
  • Jasmin Caton
  • Crag Clown
  • Unlikely Candidate
  • Lone Star
  • The Calculator: Alex Kordick
  • Rise of the Machines
  • Dave Waggoner 1955-2009
  • Blood Spider
  • The Original Desert Rat: Kyle Copeland | 51
  • J-Star
  • Italian Legend: Lino lacedelli | 83
  • Cold Justice Paul Cormier
  • The Suffer King
  • The Need for Speed
  • Nick Martino Gives All
  • G-Money
  • Climbing Out of Academic Trouble
  • Charles Houston, 96
  • Bobby Model, 36
  • "Open Bivy" Willy
  • To the Rescue
  • The Genius
  • The Gamer
  • Shock Rock
  • Ryan Triplett | 31
  • John Bachar and the Cosmic Surfboard
  • Hand Crafted
  • Return of the Verm
  • Amped
  • Regime Change
  • Man vs. Snake
  • Living Legend
  • Layton Kor honored by AAC
  • Cold Justice
  • Cowboy Anguish
  • The Rock Jester
  • Mixed Rehab
  • Laura Fletcher
  • Bill Stall
  • Benjamin Strohmeier
  • Joe Six-Pack
  • Freedom Path
  • Manboy
  • Up and Down
  • The Duelist
  • A for Achiever
  • Paul A. Duval
  • Kelly S. Bell
  • Close But No Cigar
  •  
    Video Spotlight
    Humboldt State Climbing Team
    Humboldt State Climbing Team

    Climber Hugh Herr Honored by Esquire Magazine

    30-Nov-2010
    By

    Who knew that a climber's accident and desire to return to his sport would some day benefit wounded soldiers?

    Hugh Herr, once a leading climber, appeared in Esquire's recent theme Genius Issue, credited for being at the forefront of the prosthetics field.

    Prosthetic innovation is always dominant during and immediately following a war, Herr said. About 600 soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have lost limbs, he said.

    Herr, 42, has visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center three times, and will begin working with Iraq vets this spring. An associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, he directs the lab's Biomechatronics Group, which has developed the Rheo Knee, a biohybrid merging synthetics with the proximal human part. The Rheo Knee uses a microprocessor to learn a user's gait, and respond to changes in speed, weight loading and terrain. Hundreds of knees have been sold, including a number to injured soldiers, some of whom have even returned to the war zone on them.

    Herr knows his field all too well. At 17, he was considered one of the best rock climbers on the East Coast. For the spring 1982 he had hoped to free the Shawangunks aid route Twilight Zone, potentially harder than anything yet done at the New York area. In January, however, he and a friend climbed the ice route Odell Gully (WI 3) on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in blizzard conditions and became lost. Three days later they were rescued, but both suffered amputations due to frostbite. Hugh lost his lower legs from four inches below the knee. Worse, they learned that a rescuer, Albert Dow, had died searching for them.

    Always gifted with great powers of concentration, Hugh learned to climb again, both by physical application and tinkering with his artificial feet with increasing levels of sophistication. He put up the first ascents of Condemned Man (5.12 R), Vandals (5.13) and Sticky Bun Power (5.12 R) in the Gunks; as well as the FAs of Fortitude (5.12 R) and Stage Fright (5.12c X), North Conway. (He climbed Stage Fright ground up, only rappelling to retrieve gear; just three other climbers are known to have led the route since, none matching the style.) Herr also succeeded on the second free ascent of City Park (5.13c), Index, Washington.

    Struck by the lack of refinement in lower-limb prostheses, he began to study biology and engineering on his own. He enrolled in college, which led to graduate study at MIT.

    While Herr's goals were once rooted in climbing, today they involve developing implants that communicate with the nervous system, and biohybrid limbs that move like biological ones and even attach to bone.

    So how did he feel about being called a genius? Herr jokes, It's about time.

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello