Photo of Barbara in Alaska, circa 1947.

Barbara Washburn (1914 – 2014) was an American mountaineer and cartographer. In 1947, Barbara became the first woman to scale the summit of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. “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.”

Barbara's climbing partner was her husband, Bradford Washburn, a well known mountaineer, photographer, and cartographer. They mixed their mountaineering adventures with the adventures of raising three children, which was largely unheard of in an era where the woman was expected to stay home and care for the children.

Eventually, the Washburn’s adventures shifted from climbing expeditions to surveying for maps. They surveyed Mount McKinley and Alaska’s Squam Range. They also spent several years surveying the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest.

As a child Barbara described herself as a tomboy with an avid sense of adventure. As an adult she unknowingly paved the way for female mountaineers and showed that it was indeed okay for women to partake in mountain adventures.