B.C. author plans to raise Kain in Banff presentation
By: Rob Alexander
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 19, 2012 06:00 am
The B.C. author of Raising Kain: The adventuresome life of Conrad Kain, Canada’s greatest mountaineer is bringing Kain back to Banff, at least for one night.
Kain, an Austrian mountaineer, served as an alpine guide in Canada, Europe and New Zealand, becoming a legendary mountaineer with nearly 70 first ascents or new routes in the Rockies, including the first ascent of Mount Robson in 1913.
On Thursday (July 26) at the Hostelling International Banff Alpine Centre on Tunnel Mountain, Keith G. Powell will share stories and photographs from his historical novel and his travels to Kain’s Austrian home of Nasswald in the Rax Mountains and to Bugaboo Provincial Park, home of the Conrad Kain Hut.
Powell’s presentation, hosted by the National Parks Interpretive Guides Association, will run from 7–8 p.m. Admission is free.
Kain was one of the first people to introduce skiing to Banff. He founded the Banff Ski Club, now the Banff Ski Runners, and is memorialized in bronze in Cascade Mall as part of the Canadian Ski Museum West.
“He has a tremendous link to the Bow Valley and the Banff area and, of course, Banff was his home base for many years. He was almost the Forrest Gump of mountaineering,” Powell said, referring to the 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks, who plays a man who happens to be at the right place at the right time.
“Anything that was happening, (Kain) seemed to be involved to some degree,” Powell said.
“(He had an) ability to get along with people and to keep things lighthearted and apparently he had a tremendous sense of humour. But he always seemed to be able to balance that with a need for seriousness when he was on the mountain. He made sure safety was a priority.”
Raising Kain is a fictional account of Kain’s life in Canada where his mountain skills, his persistence and good nature served him well. In 1909, he became the first official mountain guide for the Alpine Club of Canada.
Powell became interested in Kain’s story after learning about three years ago that Kain had been buried in a Cranbrook cemetery after his death in 1934.
As he learned more about Kain, Powell began to envision a historical novel about Kain, similar in approach to his first novel, the 2009 Living in the Shadow of Fisher’s Peak that told the story of the 1864 Rocky Mountain gold rush in the Fort Steele region.
Powell said he chose to write a novel as opposed to writing a history of Kain to provide readers with an easier access point, an introduction, to Kain and his legacy and the history of mountaineering in Canadian Rockies.
“I think of my book as a springboard. If you can get people interested in the subject, they then can do more research,” he said.
His goal, as it was with Living in the Shadow of Fisher’s Peak, is to share the history of Western Canada through some of its characters.
“Canada’s a relatively young country and if you go back and look at the historical figures that carved out the history of Canada, which we take for granted, somebody like Albert Rogers and the discovery of Rogers Pass, is very interesting. We drive through it and hardly give it a second thought, but can you imagine slogging through that without even knowing where you were going?” Powell said.
“I found that with these books, it just opens up the door and it tells you there is so much to learn about these characters and their life and the things they put up with and endured and sometimes it makes me think we’ve got it so soft compared to these early guys.”
Raising Kain: The adventuresome life of Conrad Kain, Canada’s greatest mountaineer, published by Wild Horse Creek Press, is available at Mooseprint Books and Gifts and Indigo Spirit book store in Banff; Café Books in Canmore and the Mountain Light Bookstore and Woodruff & Blum in Lake Louise.
Powell will be signing books at Indigo Spirit July 26 at 3 p.m.
Seats can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org