The Active Dad Book Review: The Last of His Kind

Seeing how most of us are stuck at home these days from all the snow, here’s a great book that may help get you motivated to get outside! The Last of His Kind is a new book written by David Roberts about the life and times of Bradford Washburn.

For anyone that’s been hiking up in the White Mountains, Brad’s legacy is all over the place. It all started with hist first ascent of Mount Washington – at the age of 11. From there, the rest was history. As an avid hiker, Brad was the first person to map out the entire Presidential Mountain Range (which is still being used by the Appalachian Mountain Club). If you’ve been around the North Conway area, you’re probably familiar with some of his pioneering aerial photography work that you see in the occasional shop, hotel or restaurant.

But there was a lot more about Brad that I didn’t know until I read this amazing book. From a young age, Brad became one of America’s most famous mountaineers of all time. While others travelled to the Himalayas, Brad headed to the Yukon territory to take on some of the world’s toughest climbing. During the 1930’s Brad literally started to fill in most of the blank spots on the Alaskan map, taking his camera and “alpine style” of mountaineering to the most remote parts of the country. A typical trip included a large contingent of gear and supplies, food and dogsleds. But to get out to the more remote sections, Brad didn’t have sherpas. He would pay off bush pilots to literally air drop his supplies and dogs in! In order to pay for these costly trips, Brad forged a strategic partnership with National Geographic where they would pay cash in exchange for Brad’s pictures and articles of his ascents. By the time he was done, Brad was credited with ascending 13 of the highest peaks in Alaska for the first time.

David Roberts, a well-respected author that specializes in mountaineering history, does a wonderful job of taking the reader on Brad’s adventures as he battles the elements. Overall, it’s a light and quick read. The books tells an inspiring story about a man that continually pushed himself to new heights – both literally and figuratively. Brad also had an ability to motivate others, including his wife. Barbara Washburn was the first woman to ever ascent Denali in 1947 (Brad was the first to summit Denali twice). The irony is that her only previous hike was up Mount Chocorua!

The best thing about this book are the incredible achievements that have been made by this one individual. Whether its Brad being credited for determining the exact elevation of Mount Everest based on his work as a cartographer (29,035 feet) or his success as the founder and 40+ year president of the Boston Museum of Science or Brad’s pioneering work of mapping Denali’s West Buttress Route, which most climbers have used since 1951 after Brad’s extensive aerial photographic analysis of the mountain, this man was truly one-of-a-kind.

All in all, it’s a wonderful read about a extraordinary man. Enjoy!


2 Responses to “The Active Dad Book Review: The Last of His Kind”
  1. Dane Tullock says:


    I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for your efforts to provide quality content for fathers looking for ways to keep their families engaged in the outdoors. As life becomes ever more hectic, reconnecting with outdoor spaces is a key factor in maintaining a happy, healthy and active lifestyle for our children. Your blog serves as an inspiration, not only to fathers, but anyone who is working to carve out quality family time from a frantic weekly schedule. Keep up the great work!

    Dane Tullock
    Outreach Specialist
    REI Boston

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by theactivedad, theactivedad. theactivedad said: Interesting facts about the famous mountaineer Brad Washburn! #outdoors, #hiking, #nh, #hike […]

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