Climber scales 200ft cliff despite having no legs
Heroic Hugh Herr enjoys nothing more than scaling a cliff – even though both his legs were amputated after a disastrous climbing expedition when he was a teenager.One of his prosthetic legs fell off during his latest climb – but he calmly waited for it to be roped back up to him before making it to the top.
Mr Herr runs a lab making bionic legs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and insists artificial limbs are an advantage.
He said: ‘What we’ll see this century is more and more advanced human machine systems, human machine interaction, better and better technology.
‘We will eliminate disability. From that stepping stone actually go beyond and extend capability.
At some point the prosthesis will be a transportation device, like a car. Amputees will be able to walk with less energy than a person with biological legs.
‘It’s really sad to have biological limbs, you’re constrained by nature and you can upgrade. The artificial parts of our body are immortal.’
In 1982 Mr Herr, when he was 17 years old, climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire with a friend.
But in the snow blizzard they became stranded, and the injuries suffered led to him having both legs amputated.
He said: ‘As we went the conditions got worse and worse, very high winds and barely able to stand, intense blizzards and snowfall.
‘We survived by building snow caves and hugging each other to keep warm.
‘Our feet quickly became numb. When you’re hypothermic, you can’t think clearly.
We made it within a few miles of a roadway and were no longer able to walk and gave up hope. We stopped hugging each other to stay warm, we reasoned the sooner we die the better.
‘A person came across our footprints and led to our snow cave and we were plucked by helicopter. ‘We were in the hospital several months before my legs were amputated.’ Mr Herr’s inspirational story will be told on U.S. television series Who Says I Can’t, which highlights disabled people who overcome their problems to take part in sports. It is presented by leg amputee Jothy Rosenberg, who lost his limb to cancer aged 16.
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