View Full Version : Brad Washburn

Bill O
01-11-2007, 10:02 PM
I just read on the MWO site that Brad Washburn passed away. That's really too bad.

I think its really cool that Washburn's photos were originally intended for surveying, but evolved into fine art pieces that rival Ansel Adam's work.

01-11-2007, 10:09 PM
Bill, thanks for posting this. With my busy schedule today I might have missed this news. I just reviewed Brad's photos on the MWO site one more time. They are so great to see and study. Plus, it is fun to see the old Hotel on the summit that I remember as a kid hiking up there with my summer camp friends. I remember hot chocolate in the lobby area!

01-11-2007, 10:43 PM
WOW, that is some sad news, I missed it as well. I have seen Brad's work and it is just jaw dropping, some of the most beautiful photos I have seen and you put it the right way Bill, rivals some of ansel adams.
Bless his wife and family in this tough time. He was a True Pioneer

01-12-2007, 09:12 AM
one of the true true greats! my favorite mountain photographer. i wake up to his print of tux every morning. it's the first thing i see.

Mike D
01-12-2007, 10:21 AM
When you consider how unbelievably long and prolific was his career, though it doesn't diminish the sadness of his death, you can't help but recognize how fulfilled his life was.

Bill O
01-12-2007, 11:14 AM
I remember a few years ago after Reagan died there was a push to re-name Mount Clay, Mount Reagan. I'm not sure how that faired or where that stands, but Mount Clay would make a fitting Mount Washburn.

His name dots maps and mountains across the west and Alaska, but it seems fairly unknown in the east. I'm not really sure about the history of Mount Clay, Clay himself, or how Washburn fits into the Presidentials.

Mike D
01-12-2007, 11:42 PM
I'm not really sure about the history of Mount Clay, Clay himself, or how Washburn fits into the Presidentials.

I thought it was quite fitting that Mt Clay, a shoulder ridge between Washington and Jefferson, should be named after a man whose career never reached presidential heights. Renaming it Mt Reagan seems like it would only make sense to someone who isn't familiar with the geography of the Presidential range.

Since Brad Washburn mapped and photographed the entire range, honoring him in some way would be appropriate, but how? A gully? A crag? A ravine? Since his contributions were scientific, I can see naming a museum or research facility after him.

No matter what happens, I think it's wise to let some time pass before we start renaming things. The impact of his life will linger on, and we'll find an appropriate way to honor him with the aid of hindsight.

01-12-2007, 11:55 PM
when I clicked thru the pix, at 1st I was..sad..but then realized, as I slowly smiled .....with love & recognition of "our" mtns.. what a beautiful gift he has left for us.Like the old beatles' song..there are places...... respectfully,bridey

01-13-2007, 08:34 AM
This is an excerpt from a brief bio that we used several years ago at a MWO fund raising event.

Encapsulating Bradford Washburn’s career is a difficult task...rather like putting Mount McKinley into a bell jar. The sweep of a career spanning over 60 years, lived with intensity and commitment, captures the imagination. Washburn is America’s foremost field cartographer; he has climbed, mapped, and photographed the great mountain ranges of the world including Mount Everest, Mount McKinley, and New England’s Presidential Range. He is a special authority on the Alaska Range.

From the beginning, he has shared his insights, discoveries, and information with others as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. Bradford Washburn and his wife Barbara, the first woman to climb Mount McKinley, have also been the subjects of numerous articles in LIFE, National Geographic, and American Photographer, among others. His maps of McKinley, Everest, and Washington are the definitive maps of their great peaks; his personal advice is still sought out by young climbers before they tackle such challenges as McKinley and Everest.

Bradford Washburn’s love of climbing began at an early age. In 1921, when he was eleven, he and a cousin climbed Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Two years later, taking along his new Best Pocket Kodak camera, he made a winter ascent of Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire with his father and brother. By the time he entered Harvard in 1929, Washburn had climbed Mount Blanc, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn in Europe; published the books, Among the Alps with Bradford Washburn, and Bradford on Mount Washington, in a G.P. Putman’s Sons’ series, Boys’ Books for Boys as well as several articles and a guide book to the White Mountains; worked on a 35mm movie in the Alps; lectured publicly on the Alpine climbs; and had begun to use a large format camera to record the mountain landscape. The large format, Fairchild K-6 camera projected images on a 8" x 10" negative which in turn produced incredibly detailed enlarged photographs.

Washburn’s life has maintained the momentum he established in the 1920s. Throughout his long career, he has accomplished many firsts in the fields of mountaineering and photography. Today, we take for granted long plane flights at high altitudes, radio communication between climbers, equipment air-drops, skiplane landings on glaciers, and pristine, high altitude photographs. In the 1930s and 1940s, when Bradford Washburn was first setting records, these techniques were untried and often extremely dangerous.

01-13-2007, 08:36 AM
Bradford Washburn, renowned explorer, dies at 96
By Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press Writer | January 11, 2007

BOSTON --Bradford Washburn, the Boston Museum of Science's founding director who directed a 1999 effort that revised the official elevation of Mount Everest, has died. He was 96.

The renowned mountain photographer, explorer and cartographer died from heart failure Wednesday. His family was at his bedside, his wife, Barbara Washburn, said Thursday.

Washburn climbed some of the world's most challenging mountains and is particularly known for his photography of Alaska's Mount McKinley and his exploration of the mountain with his wife.

The effort to remeasure Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, found its altitude was 29,035 feet, 7 feet higher than previously recorded.

"It was exciting," Washburn said in an AP interview in 2000, "but nothing as exciting as when Ed Hillary got to the top."

Washburn and his wife also produced in 1988 the first highly detailed, comprehensive relief map of Everest and its surroundings.

"He certainly did have a desire for discovery and he loved to share his knowledge and interpret it so that other people too could share it," she said. "And that's what his photography was all about, and what his making maps was all about."

Washburn "made remarkable contribution to both exploration and documentation of some of the world's most beautiful and remote mountains," said Dunham Gooding of the American Alpine Institute in Bellingham, Wash."He was an inspiration to many people because he was very comfortable in settings where there was a high level of the unknown," Gooding said.

Washburn ran the Boston museum for 41 years beginning in 1939. He transformed the then New England Museum of Natural History from a facility with 12 staffers, a handful of volunteers and some 35,000 visitors into the contemporary Museum of Science which attracts over 1.4 million people annually and has 300 staff members and 700 volunteers.

Under his leadership the Museum of Science became the first to unite natural history, physical, applied and medical science, and a planetarium into a single science center full of hands-on exhibits and programs, said former museum director David W. Ellis, one of his successors.

"In that process, his infectious enthusiasm for learning and discovery created a community of support for our mission that endures to this day," Ellis said.
Washburn, born June 7, 1910, was the son of the dean of Episcopal Theological School of Cambridge.

"I would like to be remembered as somebody who liked to do things well," Washburn said in his 2005 autobiography.

His thirst for adventure was evident from early age. He climbed his first peak, New Hampshire's Mount Washington, at 11 and took a plane ride at 13. He was mapmaking at 14; ascended Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc, at 16; wrote a book at 18; lectured at the National Geographic Society at 19; and earning a pilot's license by the time he was 24.

Washburn interviewed for the position of navigator on Amelia Earhart's round-the-world flight, and later said he dropped out because he thought the radios were inadequate.
In the 1930s he mapped glaciers on Alaska's St. Elias range from the air, knocking out the door of a Lockheed Vega aircraft and tying himself to the opposite bulkhead.
He took the first large-format photos of Mount McKinley in 1936, and made the first ascent of its West Buttress in 1951.

In June 1947, Washburn and his wife scaled two of the mountain's peaks in two days, she recalled Thursday. "I was the first woman to climb one peak, and then the next day we had a beautiful day and Brad said: 'I need to measure some angles from the top of the north peak, so let's climb the north peak,'" Barbara Washburn recalled Thursday. "So we did both peaks in two days."

Washburn is also survived by three children and seven grandchildren.

He will be buried in a private ceremony, with no funeral service, Barbara Washburn said.

"Later on, when I am gone too, there is going to be one for both of us," she said.

Bretton Woods Brat
01-13-2007, 03:41 PM
I found this today, thought I would share.....:(

American Mountaineering Museum to be Named After Bradford Washburn

Pioneer of mountain photography and mapping honored at 95
Golden, Colorado—May 30, 2006—Over pleasant lunch at the Washburn home in Boston, Mark Richey, former president of the American Alpine Club, informed Bradford and Barbara Washburn that the American Mountaineering Museum was to be named for Mr. Washburn. “They were delighted,” reported Richey.
The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, a joint venture of the American Alpine Club and the Colorado Mountain Club, will open in Golden, Colorado in winter 2008. It will detail the history of mountaineering and the role that Americans have played in it, as well as current achievements and issues facing contemporary climbers. It will also help educate the non climbing public on a range of issues such as“Why do people climb?” and “How do they get those ropes up there?”
Both Clubs have long histories and are in possession of the artifacts, oral histories, and engaged members necessary to tell this story well. Washburn, for many years director of the prestigious Boston Museum of Science, is just the right namesake for the new facility. He has helped many understand and find their way to the mountains by making aerial photos with large format cameras. His first camera was a 5” x 7” Fairchild F-8 purchased in 1934. “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.
Washburn’s name will help elevate the museum to a national attraction. Washburn, who is an honorary member of the AAC, was an active mountain climber and made a number of first ascents with guides in the Alps and with friends in North America. He is far more well-known, however, for his well documented explorations, his photography and his mapping. His scale model of Mount Everest, which measures fourteen feet square, will be a centerpiece of the new museum. He received the Cuthbert Peak Award and Cherry Kearton Medal from The Royal Geographic Society and the Franklin L. Burr award from the National Geographic Society.