Hugh Herr: New Bionics Allows Amputees To Run, Climb and Dance

Hugh Herr climbing and standing with bionic legs that he designed himself

Hugh Herr was the youngest of five siblings from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the age of eight, he loved climbing and had ascended Mount Temple, an 11,627-foot (3,544 m) mountain in the Canadian Rockies. By the age of 17, he was recognized as one of the best climbers in the United States.

In January 1982, Hugh Herr and a fellow climber were caught in a blizzard near Mount Washington in New Hampshire and became disorientated. They were stuck in a valley called the Great Gulf for three nights of -20°F (-29°C). Finally, they were rescued but the climbers suffered serious frostbite. Herr had to have both legs amputated below the knees and his friend lost his lower left leg, all the toes on his right foot, and the fingers on his right hand. One of the volunteers, Albert Dow was killed by an avalanche during the rescue attempt.

The doctors said he would never be able to climb again. After many months of surgery and rehabilitation, Herr started climbing again.  He proved them wrong. Herr designed special prostheses, he created prosthetic feet that allowed him to stand on very small rock edges. Watch the video and see what else he can do.