Washburn, who was 99, is credited along with her husband, Bradford Washburn, with transforming Boston’s Museum of Science into a world-class institution.
Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in the United States, is considered a difficult challenge for even experienced mountain climbers. The climb was less about breaking barriers than about building a relationship with her husband, the Boston Globe reported. “I had no real feeling about being a pioneering woman on a serious Alaskan expedition,” she said. “I only knew that as the only woman, I had to measure up.”
The 14,600-foot climb in 1947 took 70 days. She had trained for the climb by pushing a baby carriage, she later said.
Barbara Washburn met her husband-to-be when a friend suggest she apply for a job as Bradford Washburn’s assistant when he took over the Museum of Science, then a mere fraction of the facility it is today. He was director of the museum from 1939 to 1980.
Shortly after they were married in 1940, the couple traveled to Alaska to make the first-ever ascent of Mount Bertha. A year later, the Washburns returned to Alaska and were among the first to climb Mount Hayes.
“In later years, Barbara continued to accompany Brad on surveying trips, adding the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, and the Presidential Range to their list of skillfully mapped terrain,” the museum wrote on its website.
The Bradfords donated the land for our OH Cabin.