My home village and its great mountaineers
We had to do some research on our home place for uni and that’s why I am writing about Conrad Kain again. Because this homework made me realise how few is known about my home village and the great people who were born there. In fact, there were two famous mountaineers in Nasswald: Conrad Kain and Daniel Innthaler. While Conrad Kain made his way out of Nasswald into the big wide world, Daniel Innthaler remained in his home village. He became a mountain guide in 1884 and guided other mountaineers like Edmond Zsigmondy on the Rax Mountain -his home area. He became the best climber in his region and he made the first ascent of the Planspitze. Daniel Innthaler worked as a mountain guide until his body made him quit. He became miserable and ill and died in 1923.
Conrad Kain: the great mountaineer
Conrad Kain was born in 1883 in Nasswald. Obviously, in the 19th Century this little village was the same as in the 90s. Nothing to do but hiking in the woods and play Cowboy and Indians or build a tree house. Ok, not so bad I know. 😉 But as a Teenager it got quite tough to live there. For instance, the nearest cinema is a 30-minutes-drive away.
Anyway, back to Conrad: He chose to hike, i.e. climb our beautiful mountains which are surrounding the village. After some time he became better and better and started as a mountain guide in lower Austria until he ended up guiding in Switzerland and Italy before he got the chance to go to Canada as a guide. He got an offer from the Canadian Alpine Club to work as a mountain guide in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. And he grabbed it with both hands.
First ascent of Mount Robson
In 1909 he arrived in Canada and started his career as one of the most poplular mountain guides in Canada. Uunfortunately he is not as famous in his birth county as he is there. He has done a lot of first ascents in his life (a veeery long list). His greatest success was the first ascent of the highest mountain of the Canadian Rocky Mountains: Mount Robson (3.954 m). Conrad was the guide of Albert McCarthy and William Wasbrough Foster. On the 31st of July in 1913 they reached the top of Mt. Robson where Conrad said to them : “Gentlemen, that’s so far as I can take you.” The route was named “The Kain Face” after Conrad.
A guide of great spirit
Conrad was known as a friendly companion with great love for the mountains and the nature. Even in New Zealand, where he climbed Mt. Cook and made several first acents, he made himself known as a successful and reliable mountain guide. He traveled a lot in his life and climbed an uncountable number of mountains. He loved what he did and he was lucky to do it for a living. He got married and moved to Wilmer, British Columbia. He never came back to his home village Nasswald, even though he wanted to. He missed his mother and his home mountains. Sadly, Conrad fell ill not long after his 50th birthday and died in a hospital in Cranbrook on encephalitis in 1934.
I have read his biography „Where the Clouds can go“ and I was touched by his kindness and his attitude to life. He did what he loved the most which made him a happy man. A man who left his home village, his family to pursuit his dreams. Altough he was of low education he learned English and went all around the world to climb one of the most beautiful and also dangerous mountains in our world. I am imagining him making jokes with the Canadians, not caring about his accent or wrong grammar. I am also imagining him standing up for himself and not let him be treated badly from arrogant people who fancy themselves. The fact that in Canada even the boss worked and ate with his employees without making any kind of differences between them made a deep impression on Conrad.
Conrad was obviously a man with dreams and with enough courage to go after them, even when times became difficult. He never gave up and what I like most about him is his love for nature. In his diary he writes about the beauty of the mountains, the woods or even of a flower. I think he was a poet, if not with words so with his feelings. He lived every moment of his life with passion and love. Something we should all aim for.
I really hope with all my heart that his legacy will never be forgotten. People like Conrad make our world a better place.