“Where the Clouds Can Go” by Conrad Kain (1883-1934), ” A Mountain Guide of Rare Spirit”

Watch the book presentation:“Where the Clouds can Go” by Conrad Kain

Conrad Kain(1883-1934)We met the honorable name of Conrad Kain in Wilmer, Invermere, Windermere and got interested in him.

Conrad Kain was born in Nasswald, Austria.

Of all mountain guides who came to Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Conrad Kain was probably the one who was most respected. His autobiography entitled, “Where the Clouds can Go” is a classic of Canadian mountain literature and tells the story of his early difficult life in Austria which was transformed when he came to Canada in 1909 to lead climbs at the Alpine Club of canada’s Lake O’hara camp. Although credited with fifty first ascents, including Mount Louis, his most significant was Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Mount Kain (2880 m (9450 ft.) was named after him.

As a professional mountain guide Conrad Kain laid out the methods by which a guide should gain and maintain thr confidence of his party. “First, he should never show fear. Second, he should be courteous to all, and always give special attention to the weakest member of the party. Third, he should be witty, and able to make up a white lie on short notice, and tell it in the convincing manner. Fourth, he should know when and how to show authority; and when the situation demands it, should be able to give a good scolding to whomsoever deserves it.”

Sadly, Conrad Kain died at a young age, just six months after his fiftieth birthday. On that day he had completed his lastConrad Kain A Splendid Fire difficult ascent of Mount Louis. Jimmy Simpson wrote then:”Conrad gave every ounce of his best at all times. He would die for you, if need be, quicker than most men think of living. No matter what his creed, his colour, or his nationality, he was measured by a man’s yardstick, no other. We shall all miss him.”

For Conrad Kain

“You are one of the ghosts

I see

in the mountains.

Reading through                                                                                                                                                                                                               Kains-mountains

your biography

I see you,

the ultimate craftsman,

working your way

up Mt. Louis’s

bony spire;

I see you trudging

along Mt. Respendent’s                                                                                                                                                                             Mountain-climbers1

gleaming blade

where the sun

makes of

snow and ice,

a bright essence.

You gloried

in the mountains’ barrenness

yet you wintered happily

in towering woods.

The joy of life

in a Strauss waltz

was your joy

and as I

put away your story                                                                                                                                                                                                 Mountain-Climbers

I see you

standing forever

on the fluted snow

of the ethereal summit

of ripeness and fulfillment,

Which only those

kind and wise as you

can be said to have ascended.”

by Gordon Burles

Conrad Kain’s gravestone carries the inscription, “A mountain guide of rare spirit”.

In Invermere there was organized Halloween Get Together at Pothole Park on October 29, 2011 at 6 p.m.

Watch our photo coverage from this event “Happy Halloween, Conrad Kain!”

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Your spirit is alive, Conrad Kain, and coming back to the book “Where the Clouds Can Go” by Conrad Kain, it is worthwhile to cite: “That his life story should have been preserved is merest chance: some of it in German, some in English, written in broken diaries and on scraps of paper in a dozen countries of the world; part of it kept by Amelia Malek, of Reichenau, Austria, a friend of Conrad’s youthful days in the Alps; other parts written for me. Some of it I wrote down myself, during days with pack-train in the Canadian Northwest where we were together for six seasons; some of the story was found among his papers after death… In putting the fragments of his book together I have thought that “They who one another keep alive ne’er parted be,” and have done my best to hold in memory one who was indeed “der besten Fuhrer einer” with whom I spent some of life’s happeiest hours.”

J. Monroe Thorington, Introduction, Where the Clouds Can Go, 1-st ed., 1935.

Watch our photo presentation : Where the Clouds Can Go

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