Hugh Herr was a prodigy rock climber: by age eight, he had scaled the face of the 11,627-foot Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies, and by 17, he was acknowledged to be one of the best climbers in the United States.
In January 1982, while climbing Mount Washington, Herr was caught in a blizzard and passed three nights in −20 °F temperatures and suffered severe frostbite. Both of Herr’s legs had to be amputated below the knees.
Following months of surgeries and rehabilitation, Herr was doing what doctors told him was unthinkable: climbing again. He designed specialized prostheses, including feet with high toe stiffness that are titanium-spiked to assist in ascending steep walls.
Herr is now a professor at the MIT Media Lab where he focuses on developing wearable robotic systems that serve to augment human physical capability.