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.

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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.
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.
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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?
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
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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?
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.
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.
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.
Steve Grossman

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

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 20, 2012 - 08:07pm PT
This is the 1965 AAJ writeup concerning the naming of Mount Kennedy.

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Tobia

Social climber
GA
Jan 20, 2012 - 08:16pm PT
I thought whining was an inherent part of an ascent; especially cyber-ascents.

What is the altitude is Mount Taco?
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 20, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
Tobia: I usually understand & appreciate your posts.

Would you share more of your thoughts on the previous one??

I thought whining was an inherent part of an ascent; especially cyber-ascents.

What is the altitude is Mount Taco?
Tobia

Social climber
GA
Jan 21, 2012 - 04:12pm PT
Sure. Simple humor about the word "whining" and its association with climbing, and posting on this website. The word comes up a lot, mostly off topic, sometimes on topic.

Something I didn't write earlier was my thought that Robert Kennedy achieved a pretty remarkable ascent. especially considering his lack of experience. It might have been a photo-op; but at least he earned it (as opposed to a staged photo-op).

I would be proud to make it to that summit.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 21, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
The full expedition account from the 1966 AAJ.

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A real climb for sure! Five day RT for RFK!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 21, 2012 - 08:03pm PT
So, Steve, have those juicy ridges or faces been climbed?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 21, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
Can't say as I'm up on the Yukon but I don't imagine that ridge went untried for long. Not with Saint Bradford's glass eye at hand...LOL
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 21, 2012 - 09:11pm PT
The north ridge of Mount Kennedy was climbed in 1968, by David Seidman, Philip Koch, Todd Thompson and Joseph Faint.
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