GOLDEN, Colo. - For weeks, I had a trip to the Front Range planned for last weekend, so I could almost guarantee in advance it was going to be the best powder weekend of the winter.
Oh well. We found a lot of things to do for consolation, including a trip to the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum in Golden. Anyone vaguely interested in climbing and hiking the big peaks will like this place. We checked out 40 percent of the information and half of the exhibits before we hit the wall. I gravitated toward panels and exhibits that talked about the early days of climbing Colorado's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet.
One of the more entertaining artifacts was a Folding Pocket Kodak camera from 1914 that famed climber Albert R. Ellingwood slogged around with him. Though big by today's standards, I'm sure Ellingwood was delighted that he was able to take a camera that folded as small as his pocket Kodak.
He got a lot of use out of it. Ellingwood was one of only three men who had officially climbed all the "named" fourteeners in Colorado at the time of his death in 1934, according to the museum exhibit. He was the real deal - braving terrain without today's advanced equipment to complete numerous first ascents in Colorado and Wyoming.
Some of his photographs from the pocket Kodak and a book with some of his field notes accompany the camera.
Climbers with Aspen ties have a justifiably strong presence in the museum. Michael Kennedy, former owner and editor of Climbing magazine, got a shout-out in one exhibit for revolutionizing mountaineering with climbs of Mount Hunter and Mount Foraker in Alaska in 1977.
The late Fritz Stammberger was mentioned for alerting mountaineers around the country to new possibilities by climbing up and skiing down North Maroon Peak in 1971. One of the mountaineers who took note was Lou Dawson, of Carbondale. He is honored at the museum for being the first person to ski all 54 of Colorado's fourteeners.
I'm sure the museum features the exploits of other Roaring Fork Valley residents, but I was overloaded on information after the first hour. It's a place worth returning to, and admission is just $5. The museum is easy to find, just across Clear Creek from downtown Golden. Read more about it online at www.mountaineeringmuseum.org.