American Mountaineering Museum

Who knew? A 3,500-square-foot interactive museum – the only one in the United States – dedicated to nothing but climbing and mountaineering.

Celebrating life outdoors. (Photo: M.Kopp)

Open in February, 2008, the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colorado, is collaborative effort on behalf of the American Alpine Club, the Colorado Mountain Club and the National Geographic Society.

The goal of this unique museum is to inspire a greater appreciation and understanding of mountains and mountaineering – through sport, culture, history and education.

There are displays of historic climbing equipment such as Peter Schoening’s life-saving ice axe. When an accident threatened to pull five climbers off K2, Schoening drove in this axe and stopped the fall.

Another exhibit highlights the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division – an elite unit trained to fight in extreme cold and mountain conditions during the Second World War.

The current rotating exhibit showcases the work of Colorado artist Jesse Crock and his bold and colorful interpretation of the outdoor lifestyle.

A Mountain of a Library

Upstairs from the exhibits, glass doors lead to the Henry S. Hall, Jr. American Alpine Club Library and Colorado Mountain Club Collection – “one of the world’s largest libraries dedicated to mountaineering research and education.”

What’s in a Name?

Henry Bradford Washburn, Jr. climbed Mt. Washington in 1921 – at age 11. At age 13, he was hooked on photography. At age 29, he became the director of Boston’s New England Museum of Natural History (now Boston’s Museum of Science). At 96, his life may have been over, but his mountaineering legacy lives on.

A couple more niche museums focused on outdoor activities:

The Canadian Canoe Museum (Peterborough, Ontario) – showcases the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and other paddled watercraft.

The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame & Museum (Crested Butte, Colorado) – biking museum dedication to mountain biking “memorabilia including vintage bikes, components, photos, press clippings and highlights from historic races and events.”

Know of any more museums dedicated to the self-propelled, silent sport, outdoors lifestyle?  If you do, please share a link.

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