The Last of His Kind

Roberts, David
Year Published: 

"From The Washington Post

From The Washington Post's Book World/ Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle Part of the reason that David Roberts's biography of mountain climber Bradford Washburn is titled ""The Last of His Kind"" is that so often Washburn was the first of his kind: He achieved nine first ascents of peaks in North America alone, taking striking photographs along the way; some of these shots reduce great masses of rock or ice to abstract designs. He was also a cartographer and a curator: ""At the age of only twenty-eight,"" Roberts writes, ""he took over the moribund New England Museum of Natural History and transformed it during the next several decades into Boston's Museum of Science, one of the outstanding teaching institutions of its kind in the world."" Roberts can count himself as one of Washburn's pupils. When Washburn got wind of an expedition that Roberts and some Harvard buddies planned to Mount McKinley in the summer of 1963, he invited the group to his Cambridge house and conducted a show-and-tell with his own photographs. After pointing out a route that had never been climbed, he told them: ""You fellows are up to it. Besides, you damned well better grab it before someone else does."" As Roberts notes dryly of their success, ""When Brad Washburn orders you to do something, you do it."" Washburn died in January 2007, at the age of 96."