Bradford Washburn, one of the key figures of American mountaineering in the 20th century, died last night at a retirement home near Boston. He was 96.
Washburn did his first serious climbs in the Alps, but he made his name in Alaska, where he participated in the first ascents of Mt. Crillon, Mt. Lucania, Mt. Steele, Mt. Marcus Baker, Mt. Sanford, Mt. Bertha, Mt. Hayes, and the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley, often in the company of his wife, Barbara. Washburn also was a pioneer of the use of airplanes in Alaskan mountaineering, both for approaches and for stunning aerial photography; his highly detailed black-and-white photos have been studied by generations of climbers to pick out new routes, often with Washburn’s eager assistance.
Washburn also was a devoted man of science. He directed Boston’s Museum of Science from 1939 to 1980, and he led the creation of beautiful and accurate maps of Mt. McKinley, Mt. Everest, and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. In honor of Washburn’s achievements and commitment to education, the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, slated to open in early 2008 in Golden, Colorado, has been named in his honor.
For a detailed review of Washburn's many accomplishments, please refer to Climbing No. 219, in which he received a Lifetime Achievement Golden Piton award.