Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Bradford "Brad" Washburn

Bradford Washburn

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Bradford "Brad" Washburn was a mountaineer, scholar, scientist and gifted photographer. He not only made many first ascents in Alaska, and elsewhere, but his high altitude photography of Denali and the Alaska Range earned him the reputation as the "Ansel Adams" of high altitude imagery. His cartographic, scientific, and photographic achievements are unparalleled, especially on Mount McKinley (now Denali). Brad first climbed Denali in 1942, then in 1947 pioneered the West Buttress Route, which today is by far the most popular route up the mountain. Bradford's wife, Barbara, joined him on this expedition, thereby becoming the first woman to summit Denali. Climbers and scientists from all over the world consulted Bradford concerning routes, mountain conditions, and historical precedent. He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where he was an active member of the Harvard Mountaineering Club, and in 1960 earned a master's degree in geology and geography. Brad established Boston's Museum of Science and served as its director from 1939 to 1980, and then as Honorary Director from 1985 until his death. Bradford Wahshburn died in 2007 at age 96. For more about Bradford Washburn, see his obituary in the New York Times newspaper, his 2005 memoir Bradford Washburn: An Extraordinary Life, or a 2004 biography by Michael Sfraga titled Bradford Washburn: A Life of Exploration.

Date of Birth:
Jun 7, 1910
Date of Death:
Jan 10, 2007
Bradford "Brad" Washburn appears in the following new Jukebox projects: