Celebrating a local Hero: Conrad Kain

Conrad Kain Centennial Celebration, July 2009

This was the culmination of the Conrad Kain centennial projects that Pat has been working on since we moved to Wilmer, and we couldn’t have had a better turnout, or weather for the outdoor event.

Where the Clouds Can Go, a song inspired by the book of the same name, composed and performed by recording artist Mark Koenig, uplifted the already high spirits of the 300 + crowd that came to celebrate Wilmer’s mountaineering legend, Conrad Kain on July 11. Five other local musicians entertained the crowd with homegrown songs, and actor Phil Nugent pleased the audience with a lively rendition of Conrad Kain’s early life leading up to his ascent of Mt Robson in 1913. Representatives of alpine clubs and guiding associations from New Zealand, Austria, Canada and the US were on hand to dedicate the cairn, and share climbing and adventure stories informally during the picnic lunch of bratwurst sausages and homemade cookies that displayed the “CK” Kain brand.

This wonderful event was followed by a three day Bugaboos Teens climbing camp in the nearby Bugaboo Group. Pat began his climbing and photographic career in the Bugaboos as a teenager, and this outing was a way for him to “give back” to the climbing community.

As a teenager cutting his climbing teeth in the Purcell Range, Pat was very much inspired by mountain guide Conrad Kain’s book, Where the Clouds Can Go, republished by Rocky Mountains Books in 2009. Kain lived here in Wilmer nearly a century ago.

Kain’s enthusiasm for life burned in a “splendid fire” as he quietly set new standards during the Golden Age of Canadian Mountaineering, in the early 1900s. The Conrad Kain Centennial Society (CKCS) has been formed to celebrate the legacy of Kain, and Pat is an active member.

Aa a dedicated group of mountain guides, recreational climbers, skiers and Kain fans from the upper Columbia Valley, the CKCS has developed a series of projects and events that will promote community-building infrastructure and activities for many years to come. This will be carried out in the spirit of Kain’s down to earth belief system about treating the mountain environment, and each other, with respect.

Find out more at conradkain.com

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Conrad Kain, Mt Robson 1913 photo: Byron Harmon, courtesy Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Conrad Kain, Mt Robson 1913 photo: Byron Harmon, courtesy Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies