Henry Kendall - Nobel Physicist, Alpinist and Activist

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 30, 2009 - 03:24pm PT
While we have such knowledgeable attendance, consider the career and accomplishments of Henry Kendall. This piece by Lauren Viar appeared in the September 1998 issue of Climbing and is a great starting point.

Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Aug 30, 2009 - 08:47pm PT
Here is another climber/physicist ...

http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/about/spitzer.shtml
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Aug 31, 2009 - 08:49am PT
Some of you may not recall, but Henry Kendall's excellent photos were all over Steve Roper's 1964 A Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley. Yes, the infamous "Red Guide," the first time the Valley got its own guidebook instead of just a chapter in a High Sierra peaks guide. Guess my copy wouldn't be worth much on the rare book market -- no dust jacket.




Here's El Cap Tree in 1957




And Tom Frost leading the East Buttress of Middle in 1958




The Great Chimney on Washington Column Direct, a climb that has disappeared from current guidebooks.



Moving on from the Red Valley guide, here's Gary Hemming on the Walker Spur in 1962. This is from The Stanford Alpine Club 1999, photo edited by Glen Denny, with a Foreword by Steve Roper. I think this was the first American ascent.



They retreated in bad weather





Then quickly returned to fire it

MH2

climber
Aug 31, 2009 - 09:01am PT
Yep, heard a bit about Kendall from Mike Sogard, a student of his at MIT.
Klimmer

Mountain climber
San Diego
Aug 31, 2009 - 10:58am PT
I would like to connect this really good thread to this distant past thread on a similiar subject:

Wow, Climbers really do contribute to Research and Science!
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=360135&tn=0

I enjoy seeing and reading about climbers who push the boundaries into science, and do both well equally. Inspirational.
cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
Aug 31, 2009 - 12:41pm PT
Lisa Randall, a renowned string theorist is also an avid climber:

http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1556888/posts

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/01/science/01prof.html?pagewanted=all

It was shortly before a conference that Dr. Randall had organized during the Kavli workshop that she had her own experience with gravity: she fell while rock climbing in Yosemite, breaking several bones. Only a day before, she said, she had completed a climb of Half Dome and was feeling cocky.

Another symptom of gravity's weakness is that a rope is sufficient to hold a human body up against earth's pull, but Dr. Randall was still on the first leg of her climb and hadn't yet attached it to the rock.. She woke up in a helicopter. For a long time, she said, new parts kept hurting as old ones healed. "I was very much not myself. I didn't even like chocolate and coffee."
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Aug 31, 2009 - 01:17pm PT
It is interesting to note (as done by the Watermans in Yankee Rock and Ice) that in the quite small Gunks/northeastern climbing community in the post-World War II era were 2 Nobel Prize winners, Kendall and Shockley, as well as Lester Germer who just missed being awarded the Nobel. In addition, I believe there was at least one Field's Medallist--the Math equivalent of the Nobel (one of the Whitneys?)--I'm sure that "rgold" will be along soon to post the details. Many of the climbers were from places like Bell Labs or other prestigious research establishments. Even in the early '60s when I started, most climbers seemed to be involved in science, math, or medicine, non-scientists such as myself were the exception in the college clubs of that era.

As far as Kendall's climbs are concerned, his winter ascents in New England--particularly the W-G on Cannon and the Standard on Cathedral--were well ahead of their time and were a definite breakthrough into a new level of difficulty and style for winter climbing in this region--a style that really didn't get approached by others for almost another decade. These climbs surely contributed to his successes in the Alps such as on the Walker as well as in Peru and elsewhere.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 21, 2010 - 10:33pm PT
this should be bumped too...

...there are two large Henry Kendall images that hang on the wall of the "high rise" (Wilson Hall) at Fermilab, these are mountain images, and I used to stare at them in particularly boring meetings wishing I could escape the flat, wind blown prairies for the mountains.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 22, 2010 - 07:41am PT
Ed- Do you have any recollection what the Kendall images were of? Probably shots of his Andean climbing!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2010 - 04:21pm PT
Collegiate Bump!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 29, 2010 - 08:49pm PT
yes the images were of the Andes, but I don't remember the peaks named...

...it's probably possible to see them on a visit to Fermilab...

...next time I'm there I'll try to remember to shoot a picture of them.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Apr 29, 2010 - 09:03pm PT
Old Fart bump for physicist/climber thread. Does Mike Cheek, former U of I climber, lurk on here?
the_don

Trad climber
Somerville, MA
May 1, 2010 - 05:28pm PT
As a current student at MIT, a former staff member of UCS, and a weak-ass New England climber, who came to all of these scenes too late to ever meet the great Professor Kendall, I was really excited to see this article. Thanks for sharing... and here's hoping some more folks around here have some stories to share.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
May 2, 2010 - 12:04pm PT
Henry came with Tom Frost, Alison Hargreaves, Mark Twight and me when we wentto climb Kangtega in 1986. Henry hadn't climbed much in twenty years, but wanted to join me on a warm-up climb on Lobuche Peak. We chose an obvious un-climbed ice gully on the East Face.

We belayed the first three pitches which were grade III water ice and then the going got a little easier. "Do you really think we need the rope here, Jeff?" asked Henry. "Not if you don't need it, Henry." I answered. So we continued to the 20,000' summit unroped, then decended the normal route and walked back around to camp at Lobuche village, arriving late at night.

Henry was an impressive mind and an impressive climber.

-Jello
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 6, 2010 - 08:42am PT
Bump for an underappreciated taco moment!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 30, 2010 - 03:38pm PT
A couple of Tom Frost shots of Henry.




Henry prussiking on an early ascent of the Steck-Salathe.

Great story, Jello! Henry's mountain skills were as solid as every other aspect of his interests.
JohnRoe

Trad climber
State College, PA
May 31, 2010 - 06:49am PT
It is interesting to note (as done by the Watermans in Yankee Rock and Ice) that in the quite small Gunks/northeastern climbing community in the post-World War II era were 2 Nobel Prize winners, Kendall and Shockley, as well as Lester Germer who just missed being awarded the Nobel. In addition, I believe there was at least one Field's Medallist--the Math equivalent of the Nobel (one of the Whitneys?)--I'm sure that "rgold" will be along soon to post the details. Many of the climbers were from places like Bell Labs or other prestigious research establishments. Even in the early '60s when I started, most climbers seemed to be involved in science, math, or medicine, non-scientists such as myself were the exception in the college clubs of that era.

The list of Fields Medalists is here. The only two I know to be climbers are Serre (1954) and Freedman (1986). There's an interview with Serre in 2003 where he writes: "The only type
of rock climbing I can do now is a vicarious one:
taking friends to Fontainebleau and coaxing them
into climbing the rocks I would have done ten years
ago. It is still fun, but much less so than the real
thing." Mike Freedman is active in the Valley and elsewhere - he may post here sometimes, I'm not sure.

Hassler Whitney was a great mathematician and climber (e.g. Whitney-Gilman ridge in New Hampshire) but not a Fields medalist.

rgold will know more, I'm sure.

JohnR
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
May 31, 2010 - 06:58am PT
Al Rubin mentioned the Gunks' scientist contingent. Nobel winner William Shockley's son, Dick, is also a physicist and the smartest person I have ever known. We climbed the Salathe together in 1978. Here he is at Woodson, from about the same year.


Credit: Rick A
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 30, 2010 - 03:18pm PT
Here is Henry's account of the Walker Spur climb from the AAJ 1963.












These images are better reproduced upthread.



Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
Walker Bump!
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