Frank Sacherer -- 1940 - 1978


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Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 2, 2009 - 03:03pm PT
Thanks - the night crew really contributed yesterday. An excellent thread, made even better.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 2, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
Now seems like an appropriate time to note that I have just signed the papers to have Frank exhumed as required by French law, and then cremated and the ashes returned to the U.S. The whole situation has been trying to say the least. It has also been complicated because both Joe and Frank were placed together in one tomb and all this had to be coordinated between Klara Weis and myself, along with the mayor's office in Chamonix and the funeral home there. John Rander, a true friend to both Frank and Joe even 30 years later, has been indispensible along with his wife Brigitte, in translating the necessary legal documents from French to English, and making numerous phone calls. Jean-Claude Bourigault has also been an enormous help to me personally with checking on details and sending me encouraging messages from time to time. Becoming acquainted with these two fine men and the opportunity to practice my French again after 30 years has been one of the positives of the whole experience. The other has been getting acquainted with Klara via email. After nearly a hundred exchanges, we know a lot about each other, I know more about the details of the accident, and of course we were able to discuss emotions with each other that no one else in the world could have comprehended.

Since John Rander went to a lot of trouble to recover Frank and Joe's photos taken on their last climb, it is appropriate to thank him for that too and to note they are posted on the previous page.

Finally, I would like to ask those people who knew Frank personally or have a special interest in him to contact me by email as plans for a remembrance and dispersal of the ashes in Yosemite some time next spring e is foreseen but nothing specific has yet been planned.


Jun 4, 2009 - 02:32am PT
This thread is one of the most amazing things I have read on the internet (and it would only have been possible, as the collaboration it is, on the internet), and the pictures just posted on the previous page are spooky, poignant, and intense.

Trad climber
Jun 5, 2009 - 12:15am PT
Just a great thread. Transcendent.

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 5, 2009 - 02:16am PT
Agreed. Thank you John Rander for posting those pictures.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Jun 7, 2009 - 11:35am PT
Jan and John,

Thanks for posting these photos. It is touching that we can share some of the views they had on their last day.

The final shots, showing the clouds starting to move in, wrenched my gut as if I were right there with them: committed to a big wall, and the weather beginning to turn.


Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jun 7, 2009 - 02:52pm PT

Mountain climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Jun 8, 2009 - 07:33pm PT
As the responsible person, I want to clarify the “Frank & the Brownies” story. Jan posts on 12 Jan 2009:

“One aspect of the 1960’s that Frank did not approve of was the drug taking. While I’m more the experimental type, Frank was dead set against any of it. I think this had to do with personal control issues however, rather than religion. Knowing Frank’s fondness for sweets, some of our friends did take it on themselves to dope some brownies once at a private slide show. I was not told of the scheme and not surprised when Frank ate several. I only caught on as we drove home and he began waxing ecstatically about the beautiful colors of the traffic lights.”

When we made the brownies, we cut the ones that were doped into triangles and the rest into squares (“square” = no drugs, get it?). I thought we had explained the code to everyone, but Frank & Jan may have arrived late. When I heard later that Frank had gotten stoned inadvertently, I felt pretty bad about it. Most of Frank’s younger friends in the 60s were stoners, but none of us would have secretly put drugs into anyone, least of all a good friend.

[You can probably tell I am procrastinating on work by re-reading a SuperTopo thread, but it is the best ST thread of all.]

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 9, 2009 - 12:46am PT
Unbelievable! All these years I've been blaming my sister and John Morton for that. She certainly did smirk a lot during that slide show! And was eager to hear if he'd had any revelations (this was the era when people went around saying that if Lyndon Johnson smoked even one joint, the Vietnam War would come to an immediate end).Ah the naivete of that era. Thanks for a good laugh!

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Jun 18, 2009 - 12:07pm PT
The last time I talked to Frank was in the stairwell in LeConte Hall (Berkeley physics building), probably '68. I was a physics undergrad and Frank a grad student. He said he didn't like quantum mechanics. His thesis on the stability of particle orbits in accelerators was purely classical electrodynamics. I thought that curious since it's been pretty hard to avoid QM since 1925. Admittedly, Berkeley did have the preeminant accelerator theory group. I wondered whether it was a case of the einsteinian "God doesn't play dice".

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 18, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
I'm with Pat in thinking this thread deserves being worked up into a book. Frank's climbs were hugely influential on a lot of us, and werer pivotal in ushering in modern free climbing on a large scale. Without Frank there would be no Astroman, Chouinard Herbert free, Nose in a day, Stoner's Highway, et al.

Someone would have to do a thorough essay that would set the historical stage and provide context for the thread that follows, and someone else would have to dig up what photos there are of Frank in action. But this would be (is) a most interesting read.

I've never heard the past speak up like this - like an echo from the void.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 18, 2009 - 02:33pm PT
who has Qamar's images?
those are historic, and perhaps there are more than what we've seen...

Jun 18, 2009 - 02:46pm PT
Very much in agreement, John.

Every one sees things differently but the theme I see is as follows. Each of us has each day to deal with things we don't really like.

Frank was absolutely ferocious in his efforts to gain his freedom from these things.

It is an everyone kind of question transposed to a stage possessing its own intrinsic drama.

For example, Shakespeare took everyone questions and transposed them to life among the royalty.

Frank had a different approach, same idea.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 19, 2009 - 03:12am PT

I was surprised by your report that Frank didn't like quantum mechanics. As best I can figure out, that was a casual remark similar to him telling Dick Erb after his oral exams that he hated physics. Probably it meant something like he had just received an A- instead of an A on his latest QM exam. He did take classes in both quantum mechanics and relativity from Richard Feynman and was enthusiastic about both. We both read Feynman's book based on his lectures to non physics majors and saw movies of the same and spent many many hours discussing the implications of quantum mechanics from a philosophical point of view. (My math is nonexistant so we could only discuss it from that perspective).

We both knew the quote from Einstein and chuckled at it in light of QM, agreeing that if there was a God then that God was more complex and less predictable than even Einstein knew. We both agreed that Buddhist, Hindu, or Taoist ideas suited QM much better and we duly noted (as discussed on the quote by Oppenheimer thread of Steve Grossman) that scientists subsequent to Einstein had begun looking to the East for philosophy. I think it is not an exaggeration to say that Frank and I could have written the Tao of Physics ourselves if we hadn't been preoccupied with getting through school.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 19, 2009 - 06:17am PT

If this thread were ever to be published in print form then Ed who initiated this wonderful thread should have the first chance to do it. I will be glad to help out however in any way I can.

Social climber
West Linn OR
Jun 19, 2009 - 11:35pm PT
In the event someone writes a book, here's a letter regarding Frank written in 1962. I don't know who Wayne is - Guido probably does.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 20, 2009 - 12:27am PT
Bill, I think this is Wayne Merry. Really WAY loose for him but hey, it was 47 years ago. McKeown will know also, but he is at sea on his way to Tahiti (godspeed...)

Social climber
West Linn OR
Jun 20, 2009 - 09:25am PT
Wayne Merry was at this time working as a ranger and was older than Joe and his friends. Joe will have to chime in from the South Seas (Fiji he says).
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 20, 2009 - 12:38pm PT
Wayne Merry says it is not his note.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 20, 2009 - 12:41pm PT
Didn't the contents of this letter show up earlier? Different Wayne than Merry was the prior outcome.
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