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Making friends in high placesPosted: August 16, 2012

“One of the best parts about the weekend was making fast friends with people who had been strangers 48 hours earlier. This trip reminded me there are people out there who are interested in the same things as I am, and now I know where to find them!”

These words written by Thea Rodgers, a Grade 12 student at Mt. Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, nicely sum up the shared enthusiasm of the 10 East Kootenay students who partook in the fourth annual Conrad Kain Centennial Society Bugaboos Teens climbing program, July 20-22.

She also “…really enjoyed meeting our mountain guides, and learning from them and their stories.” Sharon Wood, first woman to become an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Alpine guide in our country and first North American woman to climb Everest, added her wealth of guiding and instructing experience to that of Wilmer ACMG pros Kirk Mauthner and Tim McAllister.

And BC Parks Rangers Amanda Weber-Roy, and Rae Busse accompanied CKCS chair Pat Morrow, Wilmer, to round out the adult component. Bugaboos Teens alumni Megan Kinley (Toby Benches) prepared the meals for the group ahead of time, as she would be participating in a student congress program in Beijing and couldn’t join them.

This year the students hailed mostly from the excellent outdoor skills class taught by Leigh Cormier at Mt. Baker Secondary School: Noah Beek, Hannah van der Roest, Curtis Hall, Axel Chore, Hope Blisset, Thea Rodgers, and Justin Hayes. From Invermere: Alastair White and Courtney Hoffos, and Peter Tarrant from Creston.

Peter describes the weekend: “In the Bugaboos every day was different. The first day it was climbing through a forest to the Conrad Kain Hut, and learning how to self arrest on the snow slopes above the hut with an ice ax. The second day it was mostly glacier work through thick fog. But on the third day we did everything: we hiked on a glacier, we rock climbed to the top of East Post Spire, we rappelled, and we hiked back down through the forest. This trip was a great life experience, and I look forward to climbing in the future. Berg Heil!”

Budding film-maker Curtis Hall carried a heavy pack of camera equipment and produced a video of the outing – it can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOcMQjmuME4&feature=plcp

Thea Rodgers says she will return. “I can’t wait to be back in the Bugs again, maybe working for BC Parks or tending to the Kain hut as a custodian. I am so grateful that I could be a part of this adventure, and would not trade it for any other weekend of my life! I really hope this camp continues to happen for teens of the Kootenays. It has opened my eyes to many possibilities – career-wise, adventure-wise, and lifestyle-wise.”

Of Kain, she adds: “It was incredible to learn about Conrad Kain and his history as a mountaineer. I could not imagine climbing in these mountains in 1916 with just the rudimentary mountain gear! I gained a new respect for one of history’s greatest unsung heroes, and an even stronger respect for our provincial parks.”

Before they left the vicinity of the Kain hut, the group hid a small waterproof box containing a Conrad Kain geocache prepared by Dave Humphrey, (aka Scottie), a veteran geocacher from Cranbrook. In conjunction with the CKCS, Dave has created a series of 10 caches in key places in the Columbia Valley, Banff and Mt. Robson areas that are associated with Kain. The most popular cache to date, which has received nearly 1,200 visits, is near the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, and the third most popular is at the Kain interpretive panel in Radium.

Morrow praises the program’s sponsors: “The CKCS is grateful to BC Parks, BC Hydro, Canadian Mountain Holidays, the Alpine Club of Canada, members of the CKCS and ACMG, and the efforts of many individuals in the Columbia Valley who have helped to make this a popular annual event. Over the years we’ve seen a growing interest amongst young people who are keen to connect with nature in a non-mechanized fashion. What better place than the world class Bugaboos granite playground right in their back yard!”

Immediately following next year’s Bugaboos Teens program, the ACC and CKCS plan to host a special climbing camp to be held in Mt. Robson Provincial Park for both adults and youth, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Kain’s first ascent of Mt Robson.

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