The Bradford Washburn
American Mountaineering Museum Mourns the Loss of a Mountaineering Pioneer
With great regret and
sympathy for the family, the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum
is saddened to announce the passing of one of America’s pioneers of
mountaineering, photography, and cartography, Bradford Washburn.
Washburn, who served as the
Director of the Boston Museum of Science from 1939 to 1980, passed away last
night at a retirement home in Lexington, Mass. He was 96.
In 1951, having climbed Mt.
McKinley twice before, Washburn joined an historic expedition of the Colorado
Mountain Club to pioneer an ascent up the Kahiltna Glacier on the western side
of the mountain. He had studied aerial photographs for fifteen years before
joining Barry Bishop and Henry Buchtel, among others, on this first ascent of
the West Buttress.
An honorary member of the
American Alpine Club, Washburn was an active mountain climber and made a
number of first ascents with guides in the Alps and with friends in North
America. He has been honored by the Royal Geographic Society and the National
Geographic Society for his contributions to exploration and cartography.
Along with his wife, Barbara,
Washburn climbed, trekked, and flew over the Alaska Range beginning in the
1930s, returning nearly every year for the next 60 years. The aerial
photographs he created with large format cameras are part strict
documentation, part geometrical abstraction. Washburn’s images have served as
detailed “topos” for climbers looking for new routes. “My partners and I
relied on those photos for our new route explorations in Alaska. We owed so
much to Brad that we named a route after him, the Washburn Face on Denali,
which we climbed in 1988,” says executive director of the American Alpine
Club, Phil Powers.
After founding the modern
Boston Museum of Science, Washburn transformed a modest collection into a
renowned institution, and authored many distinctive maps of our time,
including those of Mt. Washington, Mount McKinley, and Mt. Everest.
His devotion to mountains and
mountaineering will live on in the American Mountaineering Museum named in his
About the Bradford Washburn
American Mountaineering Museum
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his
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