National Geographic : 1965 Jul
KODACHROMESBY DEE MOLENAAR )N.G.S. about five seconds, ten seconds, and reached back over his shoulder, just the way I had reached back for my American flag on top of Everest. I remember thinking of that when he reached back, without looking. He groped for it, felt it, and pulled out the pole around which was wrapped the Kennedy flag and streamer. He jammed it into the snow. Senator Kennedy stood there alone, silent, looking down. He made the sign of the cross. It was his brother's peak, and he stood there a long time. I wanted him to get that peak. I stood there 60 feet below him, watching, and I was really glad that he got it. Finally I moved up to him. I gave him a hug and congratulated him (page 4). "You did a tremendous job," I said. "Your brother would be very proud of you, but not any prouder than I am." I felt very good about it all. It had been different for me on Everest. I couldn't enjoy that peak. My oxygen was gone, and both my Sherpa partner, Nawang Gombu, and I were nearly done in physically and mentally. Standing on the peak, Senator Kennedy unfurls a banner displaying the family coat of arms-three gold helmets on a black back ground-and photographer Allard holds the hand-stitched National Geographic Society flag. The first climbers flew Canadian and United States flags on the summit. Mementos of a President lie on the moun tain named in his honor. Senator Kennedy carried up John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Me dallion, Address, and three PT-boat 109 tie clasps. The Senator's children, who adored their uncle, asked their father to bring the objects back. He did-all except one tie clasp, which was left in a hole in the snow. Here on Mount Kennedy I was tremen dously thrilled. "This can never be taken away," I said to Bob. "There will never be an other who will be first on Mount Kennedy." "Yes," he said. "I know what you mean." Now everyone else came on up. Dee Mole naar had carried the survey marker to the summit on his back. It consisted of two pieces of bright orange plywood, each one foot square, attached to an eight-foot-long 2 x 4. Dee drove the post firmly into the wind packed snow. Soon all was confusion: eight jubilant climbers, on three ropes, criss-crossing one another to take pictures. Our ropes looked like a batch of spaghetti. We festooned the peak with flags-Cana da's two flags, the old and the new; Old Glory; the Kennedy coat of arms; the handmade National Geographic flag; Dee Molenaar's ice ax with his children's socks flying from it; a climbing club's pennant. Also resting on the summit: a copy of John F. Kennedy's Inaugu ral Address, his Inaugural Medallion, and three of the late President's PT-109 tie clasps. Several planes circled low overhead. Expe dition leader Brad Washburn flew in one of them, watching us and making photographs. PT-109 Will Lie There Forever We spent about an hour and a half on top. The weather was fabulous. It was 5° above zero; the sky was clear, the sun sparkled against ridges and pinnacles, ice falls and rock cliffs (pages 30-31). We were terribly thirsty. One's lungs give off water vapor at a great rate during a climb, and we also had been perspiring heavily for hours. I chopped a hole through the ice in the neck of my canteen to get at the orange drink init.IgaveBobaswig,andhesaiditwas the best orange drink he had ever tasted.