Mukilteo climber remembered for drive to share outdoors

MUKILTEO — He loved life, and he loved the mountains.

More than anything, Franklin Willard Bradshaw II wanted to share that love with others.

Bradshaw, 52, was an accomplished and well-known mountain climber, hiker, skier, photographer and carpenter, according to friends and family. He’d worked as an engineer at Microsoft and lived in a house in Mukilteo he’d built with the help of his brother.

Bradshaw died Saturday in an avalanche-related fall after summitting the 5,600-foot Lewis Peak, near Barlow Pass, east of Verlot. The family hopes to have a public service in a couple of weeks.

Franklin Bradshaw, the middle child of three, grew up in the Seattle area.

He was born two months premature, said his mother, Lois Porter. In his first few years of life, Bradshaw often was sickly and suffered from severe allergies, she said. That experience made him independent, cautious — qualities that stayed with him for life.

When he was 7, the family moved near Cougar Mountain in east King County, said his sister, Cynthia Bradshaw.

“We just had the whole forest to explore,” Cynthia Bradshaw said. “My mother was joking that Franklin was the one who was always adventuring. He was the one who was always in the trees.”

Those who knew Bradshaw are in shock, said his friend, Jim Dockery, of Lake Stevens.

“He was an incredible mountain climber and skier, backcountry skier, one of the most-experienced active climbers in Washington,” Dockery said. “He got out every weekend, doing hard stuff.”

On group hikes, Bradshaw would slow down to let people catch up. He’d offer to carry weight from others’ packs if they needed help, said friend Mike Helminger.

“He was very warm and caring to all of his friends,” Helminger said. “He was always going out of his way to make sure you were comfortable and safe.”

Bradshaw held the record for climbing the 100 highest peaks in Washington state in the shortest amount of time, just more than four years, Helminger said.

Bradshaw volunteered thousands of hours at international alpine skiing competitions, and he was planning to volunteer at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, colleagues said. He was motivated and dedicated, someone who achieved what he wanted.

Bradshaw attended grade school in Issaquah and graduated from Edmonds High School. He studied technology at Shoreline Community College and in his youth, backpacked in Europe, said his father, George Bradshaw.

Franklin Bradshaw also taught skiing to children at Stevens Pass. He never had children, treating students like his own, said his sister, Cynthia Bradshaw. At the pass, she’d see her brother go by, a bunch of little kids skiing behind him.

“The thing about Franklin is not only did he do all these things, but he did them with the heart of sharing with others,” she said. “Whether he was coaching or teaching, it was about the kids.”

One student, Kim Lord, now 27, remembers Bradshaw attending her high school graduation.

He didn’t understand people who weren’t involved, who didn’t also strive for perfection, she said.

Franklin Bradshaw was a favorite coach among the families, said Lori Fox, of Snohomish.

Fox’s 12-year-old son, Cormac, had been taking skiing lessons from Bradshaw for about six years.

“If Cormac had a tough ski run that he had done, he would probably have done it with Franklin,” she said. “He had this way of taking the kids to cool places on the mountain that instilled a lot of confidence in the kids.”

Franklin also worked to archive summit registers, the logs used to mark climbers’ ascents on difficult or remote peaks. According to his friends, he would recover the logs and make copies for the University of Washington library and the original registers.

In addition, he liked sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. His friends say they aren’t sure when he slept.

In the 1980s, Bradshaw met Tony Rusi, now 55, of Issaquah. At the time, Bradshaw was one of the first advocates for organic food and veganism, Rusi said. For lunch, Bradshaw would eat a fresh red bell pepper that he carved up with a pocket knife.

“He had a diesel-powered VW Rabbit mini-pickup that he converted into a mini camper for those long weekend trips in the summer,” Rusi said.

Bradshaw’s personal website shows photographs from many of his adventures and from his home-building project.

“He had an absolutely exquisite eye,” said his friend, Nikolai Popov, a senior lecturer at the UW.

Franklin Bradshaw came from a lineage of inventors, and his medium was electronics, his mother said. She’d wanted him to be a “Frank,” but at 12 or 13, he decided he was Franklin, she said.

“It’s a shame that the good go,” she said.

Franklin Bradshaw’s mother works as an artist, his father was a general contractor.

“I think my brother got a lot of his love for design and fine carpentry from that,” Cynthia Bradshaw said. Her brother could look at a piece of wood, and know exactly how to get the most beautiful finish, she said. He also did the stonework and landscaping at his home.

Often, his photos weren’t so much about the scenery but instead serving as a documentary, showing people where to go in the backcountry, Cynthia Bradshaw said. Her brother liked aspects of her Buddhism, but his true faith was the outdoors, she said.

“He really loved what he did, and he really loved sharing it with others,” she said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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