Naturalists and local historians gave a tour of the Old Cranbrook General Cemetery on a cold, snowy April 12, hosted by tour leaders Jim Cameron and Pat Morrow. Morrow is one of Canada’s most esteemed living mountain climbers, being the second Canadian to summit Mount Everest and the first person to climb all seven peaks on the Messner List.
Morrow spoke at the tombstone of another famous Cranbrook climber, Conrad Kain, who moved to Canada from Austria in 1909 to become the first professional guide of the Alpine Club of Canada. Kain was responsible for the first ascents of more than 60 routes across the province, particularly in the Purcell Mountains, and including the first ascents of Mount Robson, Mount Louis and Bugaboo Spire.
Morrow fielded questions about the legendary climber and told stories of his life, often comparing them to his own experiences climbing in the Purcells.
“I climbed Fisher Peak in winter with Bob O’Brien when I was 18 and when I was 19 I tried to do the north face of Robson in the winter and it was horrendous,” Morrow recalled. “I don’t know how we survived, but we did. We were up there for eight days, it was weather like this, we were getting avalanched on everyday, it was horrendous.
“But anyways I had a taste of probably the same kind of experience that Kain and his two companions would have. They’re looking at this high mountain that manufactures its own weather, it has a huge valley floor to summit rise, so it’s a serious undertaken, even today. It only gets climbed a couple of times a summer even today, mostly due to the weather.”
It was an incredibly engaging experience to hear about one great climber from another. Morrow discussed how in more than 60 ascents, Kain never once had a climber die or get seriously injured under his watch in over a 20-year career. Kain also worked as a surveyor, which means it’s likely he did a lot more than the 60 climbs he’s known for.
For more information on these two climbing legends visit www.patmorrow.com and www.conradkain.com