Frank Sacherer -- 1940 - 1978

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survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 25, 2009 - 05:52am PT
The thing I was struck by, in the middle of the night as I read, is the depth of the lurking that goes on around here! Really quality, smart people, great climbers and vital parts of our history. Scientists, climbers, friends, poets, heroes, historians...they're all here.

Some of these great folks don't bother with most of our nonsense threads, but when there is a discussion of some importance going on....

T.H.'s benediction blew my mind. I've been thinking about it ever since
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 25, 2009 - 06:27am PT
The depth of this thread is mind boggling.
I'm drowning....
lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
Feb 25, 2009 - 01:45pm PT
Jan:

> The red F marks the place where Luc thinks that Frank and Joe would have exited though he notes that there is another exit a bit lower

Actually, the other exit is slightly higher than the F of the picture (my mistake, apologies about this). The "F" marks a lateral escape that's used under bad weather conditions. The vertical distance between the two exit points is less than 100m.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 25, 2009 - 03:30pm PT
Luca-

I wondered about that as higher up there seems to be a natural ramp to the left which leads into the triangular area and over the top. I've gone ahead and changed it on my commentary since it's right underneath what people will be looking at when they view the photo.
John Rander

Trad climber
Paris, France
Feb 27, 2009 - 03:13am PT
I would like to try to keep things clear. Joe and Frank did not exit the Shroud as mentioned in some previous posts. The photo below was taken by me that Tuesday morning when they started the climb (arrows at the bottom). The sky looks great, but cirrus clouds would soon appear. They spent most of the day going up the ice gully and bivouacked on the steep snow slope at its top (B). We carried parkas and a bivouac sack or mini-tarp for that purpose; it would have been a cold night on a chopped out ledge. All of us went light, so there would have been no extras. That night the cirrus clouds were giving way to cirrostratus, so I guess only the brightest stars would have been visible, like Deneb overhead, and maybe Capella in the East before first light. The weather situation that Wednesday morning was not yet impossible. The Italian side was in fairly thick cloud cover, but on the Chamonix side there were still patches of bright sunshine. Once cleared out of the bivouac they had to cross the ice gully in the photo; the rest of route goes up the steep snow slope which should have been fairly fast. The last information I have is that they were heading up the usual Shroud route line to the exit gullies (upper arrow) at the end of the morning. The weather closed in shortly afterwards, and this was not an isolated thunderstorm, but rather a big weather front that would last days. It’s a pity that Luca’s photo of the Hirondelles ridge wasn’t taken under that season’s snow conditions. I suspect that any fixed rappel points would have been very hard to find. The usual exit route over the top still looks like a very logical choice from his photo. As for the spare change, please let’s not get absurd, climbing out of Geneva we usually carried French, Swiss and Italian currency.

John




Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 27, 2009 - 05:52am PT


The Hirondelles Ridge from the South East (Italian) side.

This photo which Luca also shared with me shows the descent into the Freboudze basin on the Italian side. A is the exit of the Linceuil/Shroud into the Hirondelles ridge, B is the Col des Hirondelles from which one can descend to either France or Italy, and C is the approximate location of the Gervasutti hut. Luca notes that the height difference from the Shroud exit at Point A to his location when taking the photo was approximately 2000m/6,000feet.

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 27, 2009 - 05:53am PT


Grandes Jorasses Normal Descent Route, Italian Side.

This is the most the common descent route from the Jorasses into Italy. A is Pt. Walker, and 1 on the lower left corner is the location of the Boccalatte hut.

Information and photo from Luca Signorelli again.


Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 27, 2009 - 05:53am PT



Hirondelles Ridge and descent on the Italian side.

Point A again marks the exit point from the Shroud and another route down on the Italian side.

Again thanks to Luca.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 27, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
More great pictures, thanks Jan.

Bump for the best history thread goin' these days.
LongAgo

Trad climber
Feb 28, 2009 - 04:02pm PT
Jan,

These continuing photos of the Shroud (how apt a name, with its jagged shape, long white yet darkly clothed look) appear so ominous, along with the descriptions of the storm, lightening strikes onto the mountain, as we all vicariously follow along the various lines and points made so possible now by scanning and computer software, hunched before our screens, the hundreds of us all connected by the wonder of cyberspace. Here we are imagining what Franks was feeling, perhaps good and strong and eager as we all have as climbers, even through a bivouac cut from ice (me so accustomed to rock, petrified by the thought of carving out and sleeping on an ice bench), now taking his steps, carefully up, up, then continuing on and around the icy ridge into complex, vast terrain with no easy choices, wind howling, lightening booming, visibility diminishing.

I greave again for Frank and his companion and have dread for their ordeal. Whatever the ups and downs of your relation with Frank, these thoughts must come to you too, perhaps haunt you at times as they do us now, if I may speak for us onlookers, going post by post, picture by picture through the brains and hearts of each of us wanting to say something, to understand, to encompass, to explain, when of course, what we are saying at root is beyond words but close to this: damn you death, you terrible thing we imagine ever more vividly with each post, damn you for how you took them and so many friends and us too in time, and therefore against it we will share our memories of Frank with honesty and sincerity, we will regret with you, we will make tribute as we have helter-skelter via electronic thread, and vow again to be kind and warm and kindred with all our loved ones because, because … there just is nothing else to go against such an enormity. And from this came my benediction some while back, really to all of us who, in time, go with Frank.

Looking back to the Chamonix panoramas, themselves speaking a story, made beautiful and organized by names we give formations, with such distinctly human touches (a ski lift, a trail, villages below, the entire aspect so inviting, when in fact we now know something else), and focusing especially on the lower part of the Mer de Glace Glacier, I am taken back to the 60's when I went up to Montenvers and followed the little white line hiking path westward along the Aiguilles de Chamonix to do a first fee ascent of two small and indistinguishable towers, the M and Albert, naive California boy I now know, completely unprepared in some sort of wool shirt and cotton shell and knickers and Kronhoffers, and thinking afterwards, wow, that was a pretty good accomplishment, even as rain caught us on the descent, barely hinting what a weather change in those parts can do, but making us feel lucky and bold. And now I get to compare my day to the giant and long away Shroud which Frank took on in the big, big upper panorama, and feel small again and am reminded all our achievements are just for us and are rightly washed down to some small pool, maybe an article here, a book there, a website or post there for others who care to visit, but really only having meaning in our own memories and hearts. I don't diminish that Chamonix day of mine, I just put it in a pleasing but modest place now next to the so much more colossal terrain above and beyond the little M and Albert I can not even place on the map.

Farewell to Frank, again, and hopes to you Jan for your own good mountain days, and bravo to all posters here for making cyberspace one of honesty, insight, caring, tribute, and dare I say, love.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 2, 2009 - 07:33am PT
Tom-

You are right, I am haunted by these photos and their memories, but also by the contradictory impulses they provoke. If I were a person with “normal” hobbies, it would be easy to pronounce the whole climbing endeavor as mad, and to dismiss it. Instead, Lionel Terray’s book wonderfully descriptive book title, Conquistadors of the Useless, provokes a sense of ironic admiration. Contemplating the Chamonix scene and the Grandes Jorasses in particular, provokes a sense of great sadness for Frank, and a certain amount of anger. What in the world was a Valley climber doing up there? He didn’t like cold weather and ice ledges any more than you. And didn’t they consult a long range weather forecast before they left, didn’t they notice the cirrus clouds, didn’t they remember there would still be climbing opportunities the following year? Why take risks for something that was not a first ascent, especially for someone whose reputation was already made? He looked so happy a few days before on top of the moderate Frendo Spur. Why oh why couldn't he have been content to stay there?

At the same time I must confess that I can’t help but look at those photos out of an aesthetic enjoyment for their sheer beauty. I even found myself thinking it would be agreeable to climb the Grandes Jorasses from the gentler snow covered slopes of the Italian side. I also have the remembrance of many happy times in the Alps, of Frank on his best behavior with no great ambitions, of the challenge for me of translating French for him as best I could, of our many friends in Geneva. For all those sorts of reasons it is impossible to see those mountains as all good or bad. Even in Yosemite, I have had friends like Jim Madsen killed in perfect weather only a few days after spending an evening at our house. While I remember him and them when I go to the Valley, it doesn’t stop my enjoyment of the place nor do I see the Alps as a sinister place.

Likewise, in this post modern age relationships are not seen as all good or bad either. It is quite possible to have a falling out with a climbing partner over principles or to divorce someone, and still be deeply concerned about their welfare. It’s also no longer felt necessary for families or friends to choose sides. Especially in our small community, we all belong because of our eccentricities, not in spite of them, and we have a long tradition of speaking frankly with each other. This is good since so few people on the outside can understand our way of life at all.

I believe one of the reasons this forum has been so valuable for me personally is that I wasn’t able to grieve with my climbing friends at the time Frank was killed. The closest I came was circumambulating the Buddhist monuments in Kathmandu where I ran into Sherpa women who had lost their husbands and were doing the same thing. Even then, their family members climbed to earn a living for their families in a place with few other opportunities, quite different from a western climber’s motivations. Meanwhile, when I mentioned to the people I worked with in Nepal, that my former husband had been killed in a climbing accident, I soon discovered that everyone was quick to say they were sorry, and equally quick to have somewhere else to go, if it looked like we might talk about it for more than a minute or two. Our society does not deal well with death, especially death at a young age, let alone by doing something not necessary for material advancement. Who else other than fellow climbers could possibly understand?

I know that Frank would be surprised, probably even a little embarrassed at this forum and its outpouring of memories. I’m sure if he could comment today, he would want us to brush over the bad ending and remember him in his glory days, especially his all time best year, 1964. Meanwhile the rest of us are left to grow ever older, ever stiffer and more pained in the mornings. We remember our climbs but forget what we just walked into the room for. Most of us have arrived here without a great year like 1964, and if middle aged and beyond, are well beyond our abilities when we were younger. Even so, climbing and climbers are important to us for the shared memories, the shared values, the sense of camaraderie across languages and cultures, and now the vast distances of cyberspace. No one knows what’s on the other side of this life, but I like to think of Frank as just a ways beyond our communications abilities right now, yet still within our space.

-Jan
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 2, 2009 - 09:21am PT
Nice posts Jan and Tom,

As Jan points out, climbing is so personal and so deeply imbedded into our sense of self, we can be very connected to climbers we do not personally know. I did not know Frank, or even meet him; I was not even climbing in the Valley when he was there. Nevertheless, Frank’s impact on climbing reached me.

For me, personally, when the fogs of climbing myths in the Valley lifted, I was still faced with beautiful, hard, run-out, scary lines that Frank had chosen to climb in his singular style. Staring at them, along with other aspiring 70s Valley climbers, we had to decide if we would try to follow, not just the climb itself, but the methods and aspirations that Frank gave reality to.

I think that this observation is true for all climbers at some level. And, for most of us, this grounding of our climbing is usually tied to an actual person, but usually someone we climbed with. But Frank’s climbs and his all-free ethic had such a singular focus and meaning that the climbs themselves formed a definitive point of aspiration, an aspiration that could be applied to new routes, at new skill levels, in new areas.

So, Jan, your words “…Frank…still within our space” are prophetic for a whole generation of climbers, some more self-aware than others, but all grounded in his expression of himself in his routes.

We are all lucky that you found us and shared your life and Frank's with us.

Best, Roger
Frank Ekman

Mountain climber
Geneva
Mar 4, 2009 - 01:39am PT
I met Frank and Jan in 1970 in the company of the other members of the CERN group of climbers that John Cardy and Jean-Claude Bourigault refer to in their posts.
We knew nothing about Frank’s climbing skills and well established reputation in the Yosemite Valley, which by then had already had massive impact on the climbing community there. For whatever reasons, he neither talked about himself nor of his Yosemite experiences. Perhaps his modesty and obvious shyness were part of the barrier. It was difficult to get close to Frank. He remained a mystery. However within this small international group there was a natural camaraderie not encumbered by pre-conceived notions of his climbing skills or his personality.

I climbed with Frank a few times on the Salève sometimes with Jean-Claude. I recall the following incident, in response to Pat Ament’s last posting: “ and in fact there was indeed that side of Frank that honestly cared about his companions and the quality of their experience? I would love to hear about this side of Frank”.

It was his turn to lead on the crux pitch of Les Paturages, a classic on the Salève that I’d already done a few times. I innocently tried to give him some advice on how to overcome the hard moves (6A French grading), including the suggestion that he could use the low protection peg as a foot-hold. He said nothing and proceeded to climb it his way. He floated calmly across the moves. I remember clearly thinking at the time “He climbs in another dimension”. Watching him on this route, I realized that he was one of the truly great rock climbers. In hindsight and after reading this thread I know how utterly worthless, irritating and unwanted my advice was. I can only surmise that he may have been boiling inside. However, the “short fuse” didn’t go off, there were no hard words, no look of contempt, no acid joke, just fast precise action. This was true consideration for his partner taking into account my lesser skills in surroundings far from his home climbing scene in Yosemite. We finished the route happily.

During the summer of 1970 I shared the Carmichaël route on the Aiguille des Pèlerins with Frank and Jean-Claude. I’m adding two more photos to the ones that Jean-Claude posted: one showing Frank leading the cracks in the middle part of the route and the other on the summit block, which interestingly shows in the background (in line with Frank’s right shoulder) the upper part of the Frendo Spur on the N. face of the Aiguille du Midi, a route which Frank later did with John Rander. In 71 we were 3 ropes of two on the Ryan route on the Aiguille du Plan with Jean-Claude and Frank climbing together. Slow going with six forced us to make a cold and wet bivi on the descent in the dark a few hundred meters from the Refuge du Plan. Later on (cannot remember the year) we went to the Dolomites. Frank climbed with John Cardy and I climbed with Jean-Claude. I left CERN in 1974 and didn’t meet Frank again.

Finally, I would like to thank Jean-Claude for introducing me to this fantastic thread, Ed Hartouni for starting the whole thing, Jan for her beautifully written, lucid and erudite contributions, John Rander for his precise explanation of what likely happened on the descent from the Shroud and his excellent photos especially the one of Frank at the exit of the Frendo with the Grandes Jorasses in profile behind, and all you other climbers and friends of Frank, young and old, for making this such an interesting and informative adventure. It is great.

Frank Ekman


Summer 1970. Frank leading the cracks in the middle section of the Carmichael on the Aiguille des Pèlerins.

Summer 1970. Summit block Aiguille des Pèlerins. Aiguille du Midi behind. Frendo Spur exit in line with Frank's right shoulder.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 4, 2009 - 07:55am PT
thank you, Frank, for sharing your story about climbing with Sacherer. This thread has exceeded my original expectations and filled out the climbing biography of a very important figure, however brief his presence was, in the US climbing scene.

What a wonder this has been...
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Mar 4, 2009 - 08:08am PT
The high quality of this thread continues to amaze me, with posts by so many who knew, climbed with and loved Frank.

Just when I think it can't get any more historical, or tender, or better......
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day
Mar 4, 2009 - 08:11am PT
A while back in this thread I asked if anybody had any knowledge of his alpine climbs while in Europe. The initial response was mostly the sound of crickets.

Many thanks are due to all the individuals who have filled in so many of the blanks.

This continues to be one of the more historically significant threads on climbing I've ever read.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 4, 2009 - 11:41pm PT
Frank Ekman-

What a wonderful surprise to hear from you again! Well do I remember the climbs on the Saleve with Frank, Jean-Claude and yourself with an occasional glimpse of a Chamois on the cliffs above us. Also that wonderful week skiing in Zermatt and the climb up the Breithorn on skis and skins. I remember the first time Frank met you and came back all enthused that evening telling me about a guy in computing "who reads pages of binary like it was English, and sorted out my programming errors in no time - and he climbs too"!

I was interested in your story of Les Paturages which in the American system is rated 5.10b. It's interesting that Frank was doing that standard again after not climbing anything above 5.8 between spring 1965 and spring 1971. Regarding his tolerance of your advice to step on a piton, and the fact that he never lost his cool with me while climbing on the Saleve, (as happened every time we ever climbed together in Yosemite), it's as though he had begun a new life in Geneva and left the past behind.

Only in 1976 did he begin pushing his personal limits again when he started doing first free ascents on the Saleve with John Cardy and took up ice climbing with Joe Weiss and John Rander. At that time according to John, he again began expressing strong feelings about proper climbing ethics. So far though, I haven't heard any stories of his temper even from that time.

And finally, thanks for correcting me about which mountains are in the background of the Frendo Spur photograph. John Rander has also just confirmed my mistake. Evidently the camera was facing west toward the Grandes Jorasses and not north toward the Tacul as I surmised. It looks so near and different from that side compared to the usual straight-on views. So much for my erudation!


LongAgo

Trad climber
Mar 5, 2009 - 05:37pm PT
Jan,

I think it is a sign of wisdom and assurance when we finally can hold contradictory emotions and thoughts within ourselves about our climbing days and companions (well, all our days and companions, friends and lovers), and then sigh, laugh and go on with zest to our next chapters, always unknown to us. You say you feel both sadness and anger at Frank, going up perhaps without having checked long range weather reports, or perhaps having but discounting them, and not thinking about tomorrow’s opportunities risked by their final venture. Bravo. Exactly what the human heart and brain do in the face of such an enormity, as I’ve called it. The key insight is yours: none of these poles, as you say, are “right.” They simply are. And then there is the final wisdom you also came to: even with all its horror and sadness, how beautiful is the mountain which took Frank, apt symbol of dichotomous life itself, and how superbly sane in the face of such a realization is your desire to climb the very peak, to immerse yourself in it in spite of everything. Bravo again.

Yes, who can forget Jim Madsen going to his death on relatively dry and very solid rock of El Capitan, as you remind us, that young face still so easily retrieved by pulling Roper’s Camp 4 from the shelf. Very quickly the same split feelings arise: how noble to go off to the aid of his climbing friends, but how the hell did he rappel off the end of his rope, passing a knot which, what, wasn’t adequate? With no jumar or prussick backup? And on we go again, second guessing death, essentially trying to steal away its power. I will not say here how many dead and/or injured friends in and outside of climbing I have held before me and gone off on a similar track, wondering if this one had only done this instead of that. Gradually, of course, it dawned on me I too had done stupid thing while driving, climbing, cycling, or cleaning a roof or trimming a tree, but had been fortunate enough to skirt death and injury (not all injury, certainly) and we all go along to some degree by luck, now and then the danger and death tiptoed around with a small gasp, then forgotten, as they should be, but knowing there will be next times. The same realization pertains: best to be good to ourselves in spite of life’s contradictions, go ahead and climb the peak, do our best to be safe, be glad when best is enough, and take our hat off to death, give it its due but don’t dwell.

Perhaps you will go up the Grandes Jorasses someday from the Italian side as you say, perhaps even visit Frank’s grave, that humble but pronounced stone pictured on the thread, and see friends in Geneva if they are still there. The important thing is you hold out the climbing thought to yourself, and the full range of thought and emotion around Frank’s life and death, and love the mountains still. Thereby, perhaps your post has given readers as much as they have given you in their recollections.

Tom Higgins
LongAgo
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 15, 2009 - 09:16am PT
I don't know if anyone else will be interested but I am posting a brief chronology of Frank's life below to try to organize in my mind at least, the order in which the various events described in this thread took place.

Franklin James Sacherer

1940 - Born San Francisco March 22, 1940 to Frank and Verna Sacherer.

1958 – Graduated from St. Ignatius High School, a private Jesuit institution.

1959 – 1962 – Attended University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit Institution.

1960 – 1964 – Yosemite rock climbing. Between 1961 and early summer 1965, he did 22 first ascents and 14 first free ascents. His best year was 1964 with 5 first ascents and 9 first free ascents but also one day climbs of the Steck-Salathe route on Sentinel, and the Lost Arrow Chimney. A comprehensive list is found at: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=268647&tn=0

1965 – Quit climbing and concentrated on graduate school. Came to the Valley only on weekends. Married Janice Marie Baker in Yosemite Nov. 6.

1968 – Finished his Ph.D. in physics & his job at the Lawrence Radiation Lab in Dec.

1969 – Left for Europe in early January. Lived in Volkswagen Bus with Jan from
January – October. Toured Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, England, and Switzerland.

Applied for a job at CERN (Centre European de Recherche Nuclear) in Geneva, Switzerland, in late October and was hired a day later.

1970 - Frank & Jan ski in the winter and climb the Matterhorn and Mt. Blanc in the summer and fall months. They also rock climb on the Saleve mountain in France just over the border from Geneva.

1971 – Jan left Geneva in early January and returned to San Francisco. Jan & Frank’s divorce finalized on Sept. 30. Frank begins relationship with Maria Mercedes Martinez from Columbia, South America, which lasts until his death.

1971 - Summer. Frank Climbs a series of pinnacles called the Aiguilles, on the north face of Mt. Blanc with Jean-Claude Bourigault.

Aiguille du Plan; Ryan Ridge
Aiguille de l'M; Ménégaud route
Aiguille du Midi; Rébuffat Route,


Frank climbs with Jean-Claude and also Frank Ekman on
Aiguille des Pèlerins; Carmichael route


1971 – Spring and fall. Frank Climbs on the Saleve with John Cardy, including the West face of the Saleve, the most difficult route at the time.


1971-72 – Frank climbs on the Saleve with Frank Ekman, John Cardy, Jean-Claude Bourigault, including Les Paturages rated at 5.10b

Frank Climbs several Grade VIs in the Dolomites with John Cardy including the
Civetta: Philip-Flamm Route. Frank Ekman and Jean-Claude Bourigault formed a separate team for the same climbs.

1973 - Franks visits Berkeley in March for a Physics conference and has dinner with Jan. He tells her that he is still doing moderate rock climbing and promises to stay away from dangerous ice climbs.

1974 – Frank Ekman departs CERN . Frank begins climbing with John Rander.

1977 – Frank attends a conference in New York and takes Flemming Pedersen from CERN to the Catskill Mountains, probably the Schwangunks, where he teaches Flemming the basics of climbing and takes him climbing for the first time.

1976-77: Did first free ascents with John Cardy on the limestone cliffs known as the Saleve.

1977-78: Did Alpine routes with John Rander and Joe Weiss and increasingly difficult ice routes.

1979
Early Summer.
First ascent of the middle of Aureille-Feutren ice couloir on the Chardonnet with John Rander and Joe Weiss.

Aug. 18-19. Traveled to the island of Corsica with Flemming Pedersen in Flemming’s light plane.

August 25. Did the moderate Frendo spur, Aiguille du Midi, with John Rander.

August 29. Begins climb of Le Linceul (The Shroud), on the Grandes Jorasses, with Joe Weis, bivouacking at the top of the steep ice field.

August 30. Frank and Joe Weiss fail to return and Joe’s wife Klara, alerts John Rander who calls the Chamonix rescue service. There are high winds, lightning, thunder and snow.

August 31. A rescue helicopter does a fly-by identification. They ascertain that both Frank and Joe have died descending the Hirondelles Ridge after climbing the Shroud.

Sept 4. The weather finally permits a retrieval of the bodies. More than a dozen climbers die during the storm which lasts ten days.

Sept 8. Frank and Joe Weiss have a joint funeral in the Chamonix Chapel near the central SNCF train station. They are buried side by side in a single grave in the Climber’s Section of the new part of the cemetery.

1970 – 1979 Frank worked at CERN and published at least 23 papers on particle physics, some under Sacherer, Frank James and some under Sacherer, F.J. They are listed at:

http://cdsweb.cern.ch/.

1982 – Simon van der Meer wins the Nobel Prize in physics and cites Frank’s theoretical contributions in both his Nobel lecture and his Nobel autobiography.
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1984/meer-autobio.html
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1984/meer-lecture.html

2006-2009 – Franks friends and climbing companions contribute their memories to a forum organized by physicist-climber Ed Hartouni on the website Supertopo.com


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 15, 2009 - 01:24pm PT
Jan- A long overdue welcome.

There is far more interest in the enigmatic Frank than you can imagine and this thread has been monumental in providing so many rare and insightful perspectives. Thanks to everyone contributing.

To risk a gross metaphysical simplification, great climbers possess and develop a power of spiritual will that evolves and grows alongside a powerful intellect. Both forces may compel a personality like Frank's to great creativity and accomplishment.

I picture Frank in the stayed world of academia having to do battle in armor on horseback and throwing all that off with a grin while immersed in the far more immediate and gratifying world of climbing.

Seen through the lens of orderly reason, Frank's oddly calculated boldness and sometimes untempered emotion do not seem to jibe with his brilliant intellect. This fiery aspect of Frank's climbing legacy is the most difficult to personalize in seeking to understand or emulate his style.

Seen through the lens of spirit, Frank's contribution shines unambiguosly. He so clearly let his talents and energy flow into his climbs and was a fine, if occasionally nerve-wracking, partner. Mark Powell had high praise for his climbing. The more I learn about his life the easier it becomes to not hold him at a distance unknowingly.

Just a few reflections to add to the wondrous assortment!
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