Promises Kept

I was in my first week at the museum, more than a year ago, when I first asked Nina to climb the climbing wall at the AMC.

"HA! Are ya kiddin' me?" she would say. If you haven't met Nina, it is hard to describe the look of disbelief with which she delivered this response. If you have, you know just what I'm talking about. Part incredulity, part absurdity, all humor.

Then again, she is a woman of her word. And her words were, one day -- perhaps in a fit of pre-opening confusion -- that if she made it through the Grand Opening weekend, alive and intact, then she would try climbing the wall.

I needn't say more. Below is the proof.

That nervous fellow belaying the museum director is the one and only Doug Skiba, Development Director for the CMC, and the only soul in whose hands Nina would trust her life.



As many of you know, we celebrated the Grand Opening of the museum this past weekend with two days of festivities, ceremonies, lecturers, traveling exhibits and art. The response from both the media and the public was almost overwhelming—a great problem to have for a new venue.

We have been covered from NPR to a newspaper in Honolulu. We expected the climbing community to be excited that the national museum for mountaineering and the mountains opened in Golden, but, it seems clear that we underestimated the appeal to children, teachers and others.

The following story and photos will appear in the upcoming issue of the Trail & Timberline, the magazine of the Colorado Mountain Club. We just couldn't wait to let everyone know how well things went this past weekend. Enjoy.

Before and after. Then and now. A result of vision.

When Glenn Porzak and Jerry Caplan walked into an abandoned high school on Dec. 22, 1992, their intention was to inspect the building as a possible home for their dream. They were greeted, however, with broken windows and a space in need of great repair.

“The walls were crumbling and they had graffiti on them. There was a smell of unoccupation and it was bitterly cold,” said Caplan, describing that first visit when flashlights illuminated the state of decline. “As the realtors would say, ‘It didn’t show well.’”

Friends for many years, Porzak and Caplan communicated on a different level.

“Somehow, when we stood outside the building, it was very easy. Not too many words had to be exchanged. We agreed that this….was it.”

Of course, the dream and the building have become what are known as the American Mountaineering Center, and the high school they had entered was the old Golden High School, built in 1924.

With the opening of the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, the dream has run its course. The dream is now reality.

The Center—seen as a focal point for mountain-related educational, cultural, and training events—is a vital resource to those involved in the study and pursuit of the outdoor lifestyle. With the museum, that mission is greatly enhanced, furthering the role that our nation’s leading mountain and climbing organizations play in the education of our youth, the inspiration of our members, and the preservation of our mountains.

“The museum is truly the gem of this building,” says Chuck Baroch, the former mayor of the city of Golden.

From members’ receptions and major donor dinners, to spiritual blessings and the Grand Opening, from the vision that has taken us from a broken building to a landmark center for experience and education, the museum represents success.

Please come and enjoy what you have helped build.

Lhakpa Sherpa ties the final prayer flag to the chorten--the stone rock structure--in preparation for the puja, a Buddhist blessing performed at the Grand Opening. Pujas are often performed before Himalayan expeditions.

Lhoppƶn Rechungpa, president of the Mipham Shedra, performs the puja.

Kristy Judd, former Executive Director of the CMC, cuts the Grand Opening ribbon with Jim Donini, President of the American Alpine Club.


The Finishing Touches

The last details are being taken care of at the museum in anticipation of the Grand Opening this Saturday and Sunday. Last week, Jon Waterman's exhibit "Journey Across the Arctic Refuge" was installed, and over the past few days the exhibition of Inuit art has been hung.

The finishing touches are also being put on the exhibits themselves. Dana, our friend from Quatrefoil, climbed inside the vitrine with Jim Whittaker to install Tom Hornbein's oxygen mask from the 1963 American Everest expedition. Good thing she's small.

By now, most of you have probably discovered that our website (www.bwamm.org) is up and running. We've been getting great feedback from around the world on it's layout, design, and content. Of course, we've always enjoyed the same reviews of the blog. That being said, the blog will continue. Keep checking back for stories on the lighter side of the BWAMM world. Be sure to visit the website for information on changing exhibits, lectures, and films.