- Category : Travel-Explorer
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (6)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Defiance 2
American explorer, mountaineer, cartographer, lecturer and teacher.
She is the author of "The Accidental Adventurer: Memoirs of the First Woman to Climb Mount McKinley."
It was this climb that made her famous. She recounts that groundbreaking moment: "Just as we approached the last steps to the summit, Shorty [Lange] stepped aside and said, "You go first. You're the first woman to stand on the summit of the highest peak in North
America!" That sounds pretty dramatic, but at the moment the accomplishment did not seem very important to me."
She and her husband, cartographer Bradford Washburn, were part of a 17-member expedition which tackled the 20,320 foot high summit in 1937. It was never her goal to be a hero or a female role model, nor did she seek to prove herself in any way but, she wrote, "To be perfectly honest, the main reason I wanted to go to Mount McKinley was that my husband was going and I wanted to be with him. That was perfectly logical thinking back then, I did not feel I had anything to prove."
She was 25 when she married the 29-year-old Dr. Bradford Washburn, the wunderkind director of Boston’s Museum of Science and for many years Barbara was his assistant and colleague on many of these climbing, mapping, and exploration projects. They spent their honeymoon making the first ascent of Alaska’s Mt. Bertha.
During the climb, she thought she was coming down with the flu, but it turned out that she was pregnant.
The couple made other expeditions to Alaska, the Grand Canyon and Mt. Everest while raising three children at their home near Boston.
Her husband died at age 96 on January 10, 2007 at their home in Lexington, MA.