Frank Sacherer -- 1940 - 1978


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Jan 3, 2011 - 03:40pm PT
In doing as she did Jan demonstrated great strength and purpose. Perhaps there will be one, or maybe even two youngsters out there, when faced with the momentary satisfaction gained from taking a risk, will think of Frank and the huge price everyone pays when there is loss.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jan 3, 2011 - 08:12pm PT
Jan deserves the ultimate respect from all of us! It was an incredibly difficult task that she undertook willingly; at great emotional expense, I might add.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Feb 17, 2011 - 06:05pm PT
Funny, how several pages from the old Coonyard Register can tie-in a list of personalities, eras, sagas and tales.

We have Cochrane's epic with Sacherer, Chela as part of his early climbing career and Boo who was rejected by Frank for an early Apron ascent. Good to see Qamar, Raymond, Kamps, Rowell and frequent Coonyard aficionado Beck in the picture to boot.

Register courtesy of the Mountain Record Collection of the Bancroft Library UC Berkeley.
Coonyard Register-courtesy Mountain Record Collection, Bancroft Librar...
Coonyard Register-courtesy Mountain Record Collection, Bancroft Library.
Credit: guido

M. Volland

Trad climber
Grand Canyon
Feb 17, 2011 - 06:20pm PT
I understand he regularly had his belayers gripped out of their gords with his repeated runnouts. Now thats proud!

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 17, 2011 - 07:12pm PT
Here is a 2001 NYT reference, both to Frank's death, and his accomplishments in physics and rock climbing:

"Over the years physicists have given their names not only to the phenomena of physics but also to routes up obstacles of rock. Theorists at CERN, the leading European particle physics laboratory, refer to the Sacherer frequency and the Sacherer method for computing something called ''bunched-beam instabilities'' in a particle accelerator. And climbers in Yosemite tackle the Sacherer Cracker, part of a route up the treacherous El Capitan. All these landmarks were named for Dr. Frank J. Sacherer, a theoretical physicist at CERN, who was a world-class expert on the behavior of particle accelerators."

As you can see, he was spoken of as a "world class scientist."

I find it interesting that Pratt made a comment about the meaning of climbing, that he loved figuring out the mechanics of the moves, that in some ways his approach to climbing was like Franks.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Apr 25, 2011 - 04:03am PT

Thanks to guido for unearthing the summit register of the Sacherer-Cochrne direct! This should put to rest the speculations about whether or not the climb ever took place.

Meanwhile the debate continues over where exactly the route went. It now seems more likely that it was done in the region of what became the Galactic Hitchiker than the Hinterland as assumed by Frank on the summit register.

I do hope Tom can go back up there someday and figure it out.

Trad climber
May 8, 2011 - 10:11pm PT
Love this thread. Always psyched to read about the history of the "Valley." I am not quite an old Dad but I have climber many of the routes Sacherer out up.....Uber impressive.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 4, 2011 - 08:52pm PT
noticed this recently...

United States

Winter climbing is growing in popularity in this area. Last winter there were two important climbs that have not so far been reported. ln March, 1975, J. Reilly Moss made the first winter ascent of the Ice Cliff Glacier and Couloir of Mt. Stuart (9,415ft.), while at the same time Craig McKibben and Jay Ossiander made the first winter ascent of the North Ridge. Earlier. McKibben and Roy Farrell had made the first true winter ascent of Liberty Bell in the Northern Cascades, though this had previously been climbed in late March (just outside the true winter season) by another team. Another first (true) winter ascent was achieved this February on Mt. Rainer (14,410ft.), when Dusan Jagersky and J. Reilly Moss climbed the Central Rib of the Willis Wall. Dragontail Peak's Hidden Couloir had its first winter ascent on February 6 and 7, by Skip Edmonds and Dick Hefferman. On February 7, Cal Folsom and Don Heller repeated the route in a day, but the ascent was marred by tragedy when Heller, a well-known North-West climber, was killed on the descent via Aasgard Pass. Mt. Stuart was again the focus of interest when Paul Ekman and Joe Weiss made the first winter ascent of the 50º Stuart Glacier Couloir for about two-thirds of its length. The pair then traversed east on mixed rock and ice, finishing up the North Ridge. On Colchuck Peak (8,705ft.), Greg Markov, Paula Kregal, Skip Edmonds and Clark Gerhardt climbed the steep couloir at the head of the Colchuck Glacier. A steep headwall formed an obstacle at the top of the couloir, and the climbers turned this by a traverse to the right.

In addition to these climbs, there was also a lot of activity on the lower and more accessible peaks in the Snoqualmire Pass area, notably on The Tooth, Chair Peak and Mt. Thompson. Clearly, there is a considerable latent interest in Cascade winter climbing whenever the weather allows.

Mountain 50, page 11
[underline added]

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Feb 12, 2012 - 08:31pm PT
Needed to bump back the best thread on the Taco to counter the incredible amount of sheep dip currently clogging the first page.

Gonna spend a few hours reading this again....stories about a real climber, from real climbers.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Mar 9, 2012 - 05:36pm PT
I can't believe today is the first time I ever read this thread. I can't think of any historical thread on Supertopo that is more insightful, and I've only made it through the first ~200 posts so far. But alas I must break away to continue prep for tomorrow's big adventure chasing Sacherer's shadow in the valley. Even though I'm not done reading, I had to bump this for quality!

between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
Mar 9, 2012 - 07:22pm PT
I liked that entry in the Coonyard register by Beck and Rowell, "chopped illicit bolt on the last pitch". Layin' down the law in 1965! :)
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Mar 10, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
I ran into TM Herbert last August at the Tuolumne Meadows gas station and this thread prompted me to ask him what it was like to climb with Sacherer. His first response was,

“That guy was crazy! Like Yabo!" (Serious, joking, hyperbole? Hard to tell with TM)

He launched into an hilarious account, in the patented Herbert style, of their early repeat ascent of the NWF of Half Dome. There is no way to reproduce it here, as a story told by TM is performance art of the highest level. Here is the best part of the story:

TM had been frightened at the risks that Sacherer had been taking all the way up the route and his anxiety was building as they ascended. They get to Thank God Ledge and it's Sacherer’s lead. Sacherer puts nothing in to protect that lengthy traverse and TM is really worried now. He tells Sacherer to put something in, but Sacherer sneers, “It's easy."

Finally Sacherer clips into a fixed pin in the corner at the end of the traverse, a piton placed by Robbins and company on the first ascent a few years earlier. Frank pulls out his aid slings and TM, now terrified, yells across,

“Better test it!”.

Sacherer is visibly incensed at this impertinence . He clips in, weights the pin and “ping!” it pops.

Frank disappears out of sight, the rope finally coming tight with great force after several long seconds. TM is left to try to cope with the disaster. He thinks it unlikely that Frank could survive the fall and if he did , he is seriously injured.

TM’s mind is racing: there is no one in the valley to do a rescue. The rangers do not have the expertise; there are only a handful of people in the world who could manage it and he checks off each one: Robbins is in LA, Pratt has just left, etc.

He hears a voice below and miraculously, Frank is ok and he slowly climbs back to the belay.

TM laughed at the memory and shook his head,

“Crazy. “

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Mar 10, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
This shows that even Sacherer would think twice before calling TM chickenshit!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 10, 2012 - 01:17pm PT
Ricky, this tale of TM's is one of the most revealing of all the Sacherer apocrypha. thanks.

Ice climber
Chula Vista, CA
Mar 10, 2012 - 02:53pm PT
There is a photo by Glen Denny. Camp 4, 1965, with Frank Sacherer, Jim Bridwell, Ed Leeper. [and Hamish Mutch] which can be viewed here:


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 11, 2012 - 12:36am PT
I would like to mention that Ed Hartouni has posted his videos of Eric Beck and
Dick Erb remembering Frank at his memorial on You Tube.

These can be accessed by typing Frank's name in or looking for the ephartouni
channel which has a number of other interesting videos on crack climbing.

Frank would definitely have liked Ed's crack climbing videos, not to mention
the technology of the internet.

Mountain climber
Mar 11, 2012 - 03:30am PT
I'm almost certain that the person on the left, with towel, is Hamish Mutch. Don't know if he was in the valley then, but it sure looks like him.

Social climber
Mar 11, 2012 - 06:38pm PT
Nails and zBrown, thanks for your help with the identification. Yes, that's me with the fancy and versatile YPCC towel. You could never have enough of those.

As I have said before, Frank was a bit of an enigma. Off the rocks he was a gentle and friendly person. Apparently when he climbed he had a different persona. On saying "Climbing now [Shazam]" he was transformed from a quiet Clarke Kent scientist into his ultra hardman alter-ego, Superclimber. Perhaps that's what it takes. I have only the fondest of memories.

Soooooo long ago now.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 11, 2012 - 11:45pm PT
Presumably the copyright trolls might show forbearance, knowing that one of those in the photo seems to be OK with it being here. And also in that one of the people in the photo had been identified.

Ice climber
Chula Vista, CA
Mar 12, 2012 - 01:18am PT
It is instructive that the legal system gives many rights to the picture taker and almost none to the subjects, unless they're in their own homes.

and the site does state:
This site, all images and content are protected by US and International copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced in any form, or for any purpose without written permission.

© 2007 Glen Denny Photography, All Rights Reserved.

So I'm beginning to think the photo has to come down since there is no permission.

That being said and done, Mr. Denny's website is time well spent for history afficianados. Lots and lots of photos (121 photos). Clicking your mousee a couple hundred times is a very good price to pay. Patronize the artists whose works you enjoy.

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