Kain Teens explore new horizons
By Pat Morrow
For the first time since its inception nine years ago, the Conrad Kain Teens climbing camp was held at a location outside the Bugaboos.
Last week we based out of the newly renovated Wilmer Community Hall (a few hundred metres from where Conrad and Hetta Kain’s cottage was located), and ventured into the central Purcells and Rockies where Conrad had led his guests on exploratory climbs a century ago.
Two days before this year’s camp the air was heavy with forest fire wood smoke, and it was looking like we were going to have to postpone or cancel. At the 11th hour, unsettled weather and change of wind direction saved the day.
Our ACMG guides Tim McAllister, Jennifer Olson and Kirk Mauthner once again led us safely across the slippery slopes of high adventure, beginning with an airy ridge walk in the Rockies.
At the midway point on the ridge, an exposed 30 metre vertical lower above the emerald tarn at Pedley Pass, followed by an endless scree run back to Bumpy Meadows got the climbing muscles limber and the teens were ready for some snow and ice in the Purcells the next day.
We spent a big chunk of the next day roped up and navigating the glacier that flows from the summit of Redline Peak. At rest breaks we could look across the valley and trace the route that Kain and Albert and Bess MacCarthy took during their bold first ascents of Farnham Tower, and Mt Farnham, the high point of the Purcells.
As an added bonus, we were joined by Snowpatch the wunderhund, who fearlessly ventured where no crevasse poodle had gone before.
On our final day, we set out on a hike to the west of Wilmer to a stellar viewpoint of the valley, topped off by a refreshing dip in Lake Enid.
Melissa Howe, mother of teens Megan and David from Kimberley, reflected on what went through her mind when she and Len dropped them off in Wilmer.
“It’s hard to leave thinking about the potential dangers that could be in encountered in a wilderness hiking situation. I left my kids there fully confident that they would have a great time, be safe and responsible and be completely looked after. When they got back my kids told me they were challenged by the various climbing and hiking exercises. It was a real experience with real mountain guides in a real mountain setting.
“Megan and David made some new friends from other towns and even made plans for future get togethers. I fully recommend this Conrad Kain experience for any older teen who is looking for true adventure.”
Leigh Cormier, Outdoor Ed teacher at Mt Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook related: “I have seen the tremendous impact this experience has had on former outdoor students of mine, including increased self confidence and awareness, a heightened sense of belonging and purpose, and a deep respect for the mountain environment. An experience like this exposes kids passionate about outdoor pursuits to amazing mentors and future adventure partners.”
A big thanks from the CKCS to all the “Kain Teeners” for being such good partners on the rope, to Wilmer Community Club for providing a comfy base for our program, AG Valley Foods in Invermere who gave me a senior’s discount on the group’s food, and Columbia Basin Trust for its Community Initiatives grant. And of course the parents and teachers in Fernie, Cranny, Kimbo and Invermere who encouraged these teens to explore the upper limits of their comfort zone. Special thanks to Stefanie Falz and Alastair Taylor for lending a helping hand throughout.
Lead image: Anna Ruoss and Shayden Johson of Cranbrook, ascent of Redline Peak glacier, headwaters of McDonald Creek, Purcell Range near Invermere. Pat Morrow photos
– Pat Morrow is chair of the Conrad Kain Centennial Society