Our Climb Up Mt. Kennedy Robert Kennedy Life Magazine 1965

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 8, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
A unique and nostalgic moment in American climbing as seen in Life magazine April 9, 1965.






















This was a tough article to scan at home being oversize but it is a unique slice of American Life. A trip down memory lane simply flipping through a copy of Life! What a cool rag!

Having put Americans on top of Everest in 1963, mountaineering was clearly in the national consciousness and I will be very interested to see what people actively climbing at the time recall about this event.
gf

climber
Jan 8, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
Thanks Steve!
-my parents had this one in the "saved" pile of life mags and as such i used to read it from time to time as a kid. A recent and fairly masterful biography of RFK mentions this trip and bundles it into a broader analysis of how he used to throw himself into harms way in a range of activities, including crowded campaign rallies, leading up to that fateful day at the ambassador hotel.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 8, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
Thanks, Steve. Oddly timely in that Jim Craig, the Canadian climber on the team, just died in November. Here's the memorial, extracted from the January 2012 B.C. Mountaineering Club newsletter.
Credit: BCMC
Credit: BCMC
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 8, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
gf- If you have that bio could you scan and post the relevant section?
gf

climber
Jan 8, 2012 - 08:49pm PT
will do-give me a few days
sullly

Trad climber
Jan 8, 2012 - 09:06pm PT
How cool! Those crazy Irish-American Democrats...
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Jan 8, 2012 - 09:12pm PT
Interesting. I just read about this ascent in a Washburn bio. Apparently Kennedy was a whiny little female dog the whole time and threw crazy ass parties at the hotels. It was a publicity stunt that in the end, Washburn didn't particularly care for.
Thanks for the article.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 8, 2012 - 09:12pm PT
Mount Kennedy was then the highest unclimbed peak in North America. The Canadian government decided to name it in honour of the dead president.

The article suggests that they did the climb in three days, which is fairly fast.
go-B

climber
Habakkuk 3:19 Sozo
Jan 8, 2012 - 09:17pm PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#232708
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 8, 2012 - 10:02pm PT
Anyone know if RFK ever climbed again after this adventure?
gf

climber
Jan 8, 2012 - 10:59pm PT
Steve, this link covers it well -it is the prologue-doesn't address the specifics of the climb but i will try to get that scanned if i can scratch out some time in the coming week
http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/t/thomas-kennedy.html
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 8, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
Steve: The Nov 1965 National Geographic also glorified the climb.

Heidi gave all our old National Geos to a local thrift store 2 years ago, and I was able to recover most all the climbing issues, but missed that one.
Per David Robert's fine bio of Bradford Washburn:
The Last of His Kind
--- The National Geo has 3 articles on the climb.

Canada's Mount Kennedy: The Discovery, by Bradford Washburn.

A Peak Worthy of The President, by Robert Kennedy, &

The First Ascent, by Jim Whittaker.


It appears that the climb was a big PR stunt, and as mentioned: David Roberts asserts that Brad Washburn remembers Kennedy behaving poorly, before, during, and after the climb.
Randisi

Boulder climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jan 9, 2012 - 01:03am PT
I can't wait until I get rich enough to afford a family flag!

Winston Churchill said courage "is the first of human qualities...because it is the quality which guarantees all others"?

Sorry, Bobby. Aristotle said that over two thousand years before Churchill.

(Or did he omit this fact on purpose so he wouldn't seem too high-brow?)
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 9, 2012 - 01:15am PT
Most interesting! I never knew that Bill Prater was on that trip. Being
the quintessential Ellensburg farmboy I'm not surprised he never bragged about it.
gf

climber
Jan 9, 2012 - 02:15am PT
Ah yes R.-but for bonus points what was the motto on the churchill coat of arms?
BJ

climber
Jan 9, 2012 - 09:38am PT
//Most interesting! I never knew that Bill Prater was on that trip. Being
the quintessential Ellensburg farmboy I'm not surprised he never bragged about it.//


Bill wasn't the only Ellensburger there. The late Barry Prather was also on the expedition. Barry was an intellectual enigma, he assisted Maynard Miller on the 1963 Everest Expedition, was on a research trip to Rainier when Dr Calder Bressler died of HAPE on the summit and had a MS in Geophysics from University of Michigan. Barry was active in his community, was a member of the Foundation for Glacial and Environmental Research and was on many trips to the Juneau Icefields Research Program. Maynard and Barry had spoke about Barry getting his PhD and taking over leadership of FGER/JIRP after Maynard retired.

Barry operated a electronics repair shop in Roslyn, and latter was the Technologist in the Physics Department at CWU, while his mother Lou was the Secretary for Geology and Physics (a sweeter person than Lou has never existed). Barry ran a busy combine business during the fall, and was killed in 1987 when he and his son were involved in a single vehicle crash off frost slicked roads in eastern Washington during harvest season.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jan 9, 2012 - 10:05am PT
He synchronized his breathing as he had been instructed, with a slow, steady "rest" step, in which the knee of the trailing leg is locked to take the weight off tired muscles, and moved up alone to a summit believed to be more than 14,000 feet high. He was the first man ever to stand atop the superb peak that Canada had named for his dead brother. He took off his goggles to look out upon a vast panorama of granite tyrannosaur teeth extending in all directions across the roof of the Yukon as far as the eye could see, and he stood very still for one private moment. Then, as James (Big Jim) Whittaker and Barry (The Bear) Prather, both veterans of the U.S. Everest expedition, watched and an aerial armada of photographers' planes circled overhead, Senator Robert F. Kennedy planted a family memorial flag. He also placed in a cache in the snow a copy of President Kennedy's inauguration speech, which was tightly wound in a metal cylinder of the type used for mountaintop registers, and three PT-boat tie clasps. Thus ended the climb of an obscure peak which had started in secrecy in Washington and evolved into the biggest story in Yukon Territory since the cremation of Sam McGee.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 9, 2012 - 11:32am PT
BJ,
Thanks for that bit on Barry. A neighbor of Bill Prater who was a couple of
rooms down the hall from me at the UW got me into alpine climbing so I got to
meet those guys* early on. They were all so low-key but hard core.
I spent part of a summer vacation working there with my friend baling hay.
That's why they were so hard core - that's the hardest work I've ever done!
You'd spend all day out in the fields in 90+ temps looking up at the cool
heights of Mt Stuart and come back into the farmhouse and sit down to a nice
cold glass of freshly squeezed milk. I wonder if there's a reality TV show there?
Nah, the only drama was whether or not it was gonna rain before you got the
baling done.

*The Praters, Prather, Stanley, Dunham.
BJ

climber
Jan 9, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
Jim Wickwire was from Kittitas County also, and Jack Powell, although youger, was quite the strong peak bagger too. Jack put most of his considerable energies into the stratigraphy and structure of the Yakima basalts, but he was climbing Formidable with Fred Dunham into his late forties (late fifties for Dunham).

Cousins Mead and Tom Hargis were from Yak, as were the much younger Matt Kerns and the Christianson brothers.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
Bump in the Yukon...
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