On March 20th of 1965, Bobby Kennedy became the first human to stand atop a lonely peak in the Yukon that Canadian Parliament had just named after his assassinated brother. He was guided by Jim Whittaker, the newly minted icon of American mountaineering.
Originally a shy kid from West Seattle, Jim had been thrust into the international spotlight when he became the first American to summit Mt. Everest in 1963. So began a friendship that would flourish in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Yukon. Just two years after their adventure in the North, Jim would be at Bobby’s bedside as he was taken off life support, ending in his words, “a brilliant opportunity for the country and the world.”
Fifty years later, Jim Whittaker’s 48 year old son Bobby pledges to revisit the site of his father’s historic climb. As the manager of a rowdy, seminal Seattle Grunge band, Bobby has spent his career in the trenches of the rock business, most recently working as REM’s road manager. Rejecting the world of hardcore alpinism he associates with his father, he has lost touch with his family. In an effort to make sense of his heritage and reconnect with his family, Bobby, now faded and out of shape, decides to do something he hasn’t done since he was 17: climb a mountain.
Bobby enlists the help of his younger half-brother, Leif Whittaker, a two-time Everest summitter who has climbed all over the world.
Eighteen years apart in age, Leif and Bobby haven’t spent much time together. Organizing an expedition to an untraveled and dangerous peak is not an easy or stress-free task. Their relationship is tested and deepened as they begin to train and build a team.
Bobby also calls Christopher Kennedy, 52, the son of RFK and Ethel Kennedy. Chris is a businessman and politician who lives in Illinois and is equally as unequipped to scale a mountain. Nevertheless, he has a powerful desire to honor his father and family and he accepts the invitation.
Like their fathers before them, the trio bring out the best in each other. Confronting deeply emotional memories from a tumultuous era of American history, Bobby, Chris, and Leif finally understand why they were so driven to go there and why they must continue to do good in the world.