• What I've Learned: Mark Udall
  • Reinhold Messner: What I've Learned
  • Listening for the Echo: The Klem Loskot Profile
  • Layton Kor Dies
  • Climbers We Lost In 2012
  • Life on Hold: The Ian Powell Story
  • Rope Jumping with Dan Osman
  • Mike Foley: Never Enough
  • Hayden Kennedy: Superballistic
  • Naomi Guy: What I've Learned
  • Dave Macleod: What I've Learned
  • Thomas Bubendorfer: Eiger Legend Back in the Game
  • Q&A: V15 Maestro Nacho Sanchez Unleashed
  • Francesca Metcalf: Meant to Compete
  • Maurice Herzog Dies
  • Kurt Albert: Free Wheel
  • Mason Earle: Crack Ropegun
  • Mayan Smith-Gobat: Climber for all Seasons
  • John Long: What I've Learned
  • Nik Berry: Obsessive Crusher
  • TNB: Tony Scott, Climber, Movie Maker, Lived and Died Large
  • Who's Next?
  • Todd Skinner: The Renegade
  • Tom Patey: The Tiger of Yesterday
  • Patxi Usobiaga: The Bionic Man
  • Michael Reardon
  • Max Turgeon and Louis-Philippe Ménard: Alpinists and Ice Climbers
  • Kurt Albert: The Climber Who Invented Redpointing
  • Josh Wharton: The Alpinist
  • John Rosholt: Climber and Gambler Disappears in Las Vegas
  • The Stonemasters Climb at Pirates Cove
  • John Bachar's Last Interview
  • John Bachar Remembers Michael Reardon
  • John Bachar by Henry Barber
  • John Bachar Remembered by Duane Raleigh
  • John Bachar by Doug Robinson
  • John Bachar and the Bachar-Yerian First Ascent
  • Colin Kirkus: Climbing's Greatest Unknown
  • Alex Puccio
  • John Long: A Man for All Seasons
  • Galen Rowell: The Vertical World
  • The Prophet
  • The Guy Whose Nuts Revolutionized Climbing: R.P.
  • Randy Leavitt
  • Brian Kim Spotlight
  • Rob Raker
  • Ueli Steck
  • Kemple and Lindner Almost Free El Nino
  • Crack Attack
  • Climbing World Mourns Todd Skinner
  • Ammon McKneely
  • A Tour of Magic and Mystery
  • Tanja Grmovsek
  • Rob Miller
  • Climber Hugh Herr Honored by Esquire Magazine
  • Climber Eric Brand Dies
  • Chuck Fryberger, Climber and Filmmaker
  • Chris Schulte Profile
  • Beth Rodden
  • Joe Kinder
  • Hazel Findlay
  • To the BASE Layer
  • Pete Ward
  • Mad Max
  • Chris Boskoff
  • Bradford Washburn
  • Revenge of the Nerd
  • Chris Lindner
  • Renan Ozturk
  • One-Track Mind
  • Tim Clifford: Escaping the Quantum Hole
  • Traveling Light
  • Colette McInerney
  • The Banner Years
  • Pakistan: The Big and Free
  • MAD DASH
  • Kris Hampton
  • KEEPING THE FAITH
  • Jules Cho
  • Extreme Eleven and Beyond
  • Bob Bates, 96, Takes His Final Journey
  • Jody Hansen
  • Home Girl
  • An Encounter with Fred
  • The Average Hero Sir Edmund Hillary, 88
  • More Than One Trick
  • Dave Graham
  • Red River Sugar Mama
  • Phillip Schaal
  • An Advanced Beginner
  • The Last Samurai:
  • THE BERMANATOR
  • Sonnie in Scotland
  • Offwidth Hombre
  • Moonlight Solo-Nata
  • Jasmin Caton
  • Crag Clown
  • Unlikely Candidate
  • Lone Star
  • The Calculator: Alex Kordick
  • Rise of the Machines
  • Dave Waggoner 1955-2009
  • Blood Spider
  • The Original Desert Rat: Kyle Copeland | 51
  • J-Star
  • Italian Legend: Lino lacedelli | 83
  • Cold Justice Paul Cormier
  • The Suffer King
  • The Need for Speed
  • Nick Martino Gives All
  • G-Money
  • Climbing Out of Academic Trouble
  • Charles Houston, 96
  • Bobby Model, 36
  • "Open Bivy" Willy
  • To the Rescue
  • The Genius
  • The Gamer
  • Shock Rock
  • Ryan Triplett | 31
  • John Bachar and the Cosmic Surfboard
  • Hand Crafted
  • Return of the Verm
  • Amped
  • Regime Change
  • Man vs. Snake
  • Living Legend
  • Layton Kor honored by AAC
  • Cold Justice
  • Cowboy Anguish
  • The Rock Jester
  • Mixed Rehab
  • Laura Fletcher
  • Bill Stall
  • Benjamin Strohmeier
  • Joe Six-Pack
  • Freedom Path
  • Manboy
  • Up and Down
  • The Duelist
  • A for Achiever
  • Paul A. Duval
  • Kelly S. Bell
  • Close But No Cigar
  •  
    Video Spotlight
    Weekend Whipper: Groundfall at Frog Buttress
    Weekend Whipper: Groundfall at Frog Buttress

    Bradford Washburn

    01-Jul-2010
    By

    Henry Bradford Washburn Jr. died of heart failure on January 10, at the age of 96, in a retirement home in Lexington, Massachusetts. His legacy, however, as a mountaineer, photographer, cartographer and all-around adventurer extraordinaire will live on. p.024-Breaking-News.159

    To climbers, Washburn is most famous for his 1951 first ascent of the West Buttress on Denali, of which Washburn once said, had the route never existed, Talkeetna wouldn't even be a town. After 22 days on the mountain, Washburn and a team of climbers from Colorado topped out on what would become the most climbed line in Alaska, making the highest peak in North America accessible to mountaineers of a wide range of skill level. The West Buttress was a seminal moment in Alaskan mountaineering, and its discovery was thanks to Washburn's own aerial photograph, a skill for which he was equally famous.

    Washburn was born in Boston on June 7, 1910. His father was a dean at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, who took his family to the Catskills, in New York, during the summers, and later, Squam Lake, New Hampshire. At 11, Brad climbed the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington, the ascent captured Brad's heart and imagination, perhaps only because, in the alpine air, his hay fever disappeared entirely.

    Around the same time, Washburn bought his first camera for one dollar, a Kodak point-and-shoot. Before even entering high school, he was developing his own pictures. Later, heeding the advice of his mother, he began experimenting with large-format photography, which he used to document his ascents in the Alps. As a teenager, over the course of three trips, Washburn climbed the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Les Dru, the north peak of Charmoz and the airy needle of the Grepon. On his third trip, at 19, Brad, along with guides Georges Charlet and Alfred Couttet, made the first ascent of the imposing North Face of the Aguille Verte in a day, a landmark climb that he often referred to as his best.

    Washburn, who by this point had already written three books, entered Harvard University in 1929. Even the way he financed his tuition was ahead of its time for climbers: he gave slideshows, only instead of presenting at the local gear shop, he lectured at prestigious institutions such as the National Geographic Society, and at Carnegie Hall. Washburn first acquired an aerial camera (with the help of a professor) in 1933, and headed to the Saint Elias Range the next year, made the first ascent of Mount Crillon with Adams Carter, employed the unprecedented use of glacier landings and supply drops and came away with enough survey data to make a map. The next year, Washburn and seven men from the Harvard Mountaineering Club spent 84 days crossing the Saint Elias Range, mapping over 5,000 square miles of previously unknown territory.

    Climbers have relied heavily on Washburn's photos for new route information. Here's a short list of climbs done as a direct result of Washburn's photos and charting efforts: Mugs Stump's Moonflower Buttress, Mount Hunter; Lionel Terray's French Ridge, Mount Huntington. And on Denali: Jack Tackle's Isis Face; David Roberts' Wickersham Wall; Ricardo Cassin's Cassin Ridge. Washburn's photos are not only useful, they're beautiful. Artists have lauded his work, including one of his mentors, Ansel Adams, who called him one of the best mountain photographers of all time.In 1939, Washburn took a job as director of the New England Museum of Natural History (later to be called the Museum of Science), in Boston, a job he happily, diligently and expertly performed for 41 years. Over that time, he turned the old, rundown joint into the greatest children's museum in the world. When he first took office, he was tasked with hiring a secretary, he only saw one applicant, a young woman named Barbara Polk, who at first politely turned down the job. Insistent, Washburn called her every night until she accepted the position, and within less than a year, they were married.

    A loving husband, father of three, Washburn remained active up until just recently, completing nearly a century of innovation and productivity. In the later years, he contributed by literally taking the world up a notch, discovering the true height of Mount Everest to be seven feet higher than previously estimated.

    Few people would ever be able to match the incredible breadth of Washburn's contributions to society, though many benefited from them, as well as Washburn's open, comfortable personality. Climbers and explorers, artists and scientists: all regard Washburn with esteem. Bradford Washburn is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their three children.

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello