The Last of His Kind: The Life and Adventures of Bradford Washburn, America's Boldest Mountaineer
“Stunning and stirring.”
In The Last of His Kind, renowned adventure writer David Roberts gives readers a spellbinding history of mountain climbing in the twentieth century as told through the biography of Brad Washburn, legendary mountaineering pioneer and photographer. Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air, has praised David Roberts, saying, “Nobody alive writes better about mountaineering”—and nowhere is that truth more evident than in this breathtaking account of the life and exploits of America’s greatest mountain climber.
the smaller channels, Brad and Bob decided to try to build a raft. They had only begun scrounging driftwood when the impossibility of such a project struck them. They had no axe, hardly any cordage to lash the logs together, and—most tellingly, as Brad wrote in his diary—“The river [is] so huge and divided into so many channels that a raft would have to be taken apart and rebuilt a thousand times to get across.” (A driftwood raft would be too heavy to drag across the sandbars between channels.)
going through with it. None of this stress shows in the professional studio portrait of the wedding couple. Barbara stands on Brad’s right, her right hand holding a bouquet of white lilies, her left arm linked through Brad’s right, a serene smile on her face. Sprouting a corsage from his jacket lapel, Brad stares confidently at the photographer, looking every bit as pleased with his latest conquest as he had in the by-now iconic summit photo with Bob Bates on Mt. Lucania. The couple
ambitious climbs any guide would take a client on. Brad and Sherry completed the grueling traverse not once, but twice, for Brad, by now a serious photographer, was so disappointed with the pictures he had taken on the weather-plagued first climb, he insisted on repeating it under fair skies to expose better photographs. And as if photography were not challenge enough, Brad had recruited the excellent local filmmaker Georges Tairraz to make a 16 mm movie of the climb. The Charmoz-Grépon traverse
reaches of the unknown Kahiltna Glacier. In the end, it was Brad’s old Harvard friend Terry Moore who would facilitate the aerial approach. Even though at the time he was serving as president of the University of Alaska, Moore had continued to hone his expertise as a bush pilot. He had recently modified his Super Cub with ski-wheels, becoming the first aviator in the territory to do so. A hydraulic device operated from the cockpit allowed Moore to take off on wheels from a conventional airstrip,
glacial moraines, desolate glacial snouts pocked with rock debris and meltwater pools, crevasse fields savagely scoring icefalls, patterns of sastrugi (windblown plumes of snow), rivers threading through winter-struck lowlands, and the like—have the look of abstract paintings. Arresting in their own right, these images soon attracted the attention of geologists. Trained in geology himself, Brad was far more pleased when the publisher of a geology textbook sought permission to use one of his