In the Time of Covid

Teens Climbing Program 2020

Since 2009 the Conrad Kain Centennial Society has promoted the legacy of Conrad Kain by offering a free-of-charge three day camp aimed at exposing teens to the rich mountaineering history in the region.

The camp is run annually, and supported by various organizations (including the Alpine Club of Canada) in order to keep it free-of-charge. Chairman Pat Morrow, climber and photographer, has hosted successful ACC camps in the past and continues to stoke the fire by getting others out and into the big hills, despite complications surrounding Covid.

Due to the pandemic curve ball thrown at us, the CKCS ran an abbreviated teens climbing camp, based out of Invermere. ACMG guide Kirk Mauthner and Pat had the good fortune to introduce Virginia Denchuk, Christopher Dehart, and Kate Hale (up and coming youth from the valley, so to speak) to some of the funnest “hands on” rock, ice and snow experiences to be found in the Rockies and Purcells.

On three consecutive day trips, (face masks in the vehicles), we drove an average of three bumpy hours a day to and from the trail heads. Heather Milligan volunteered her services as tail gunner and first aid attendant (she’s on her way to becoming a MD). 

We began in the Rockies with an exposed limestone ridge traverse that required utmost concentration, short-roping, and an airy 20 m lower to get back to terra firma. 

Day 2. In order to escape the heatwave, we headed for the apex of the Purcell range to develop route-finding and glacier-crossing skills. With the spectacular Farnham Group as a backdrop, and a steep snow slope descent, we cooled down by sliding on our backs and practicing self arrest with ice axes. 

On the third and final day, the weather gods threatened to shut us down early, so we chose a lower elevation scramble/hike that’d give us a chance to practice map and compass reading skills.

Many thanks to the directors and members of the Conrad Kain Centennial Society for their stalwart support, a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program, individual donors, and parents willing to send their kids on eye popping adventures in the high country.

And to the ACC for their enduring support of this introductory mountaineering program, which ultimately was inspired by the legacy of their very first mountain guide, Conrad Kain.

Next year, through the newly-established Philippe Delesalle Memorial Grant, and in conjunction with the CKCS, the ACC will be offering The Bugaboos Teens program. 

It is a tuition-free mountaineering camp held annually in Bugaboo Provincial Park, and is aimed at students from grades 10 through 12. The goal is to introduce youth to the mountains and give them the opportunity to forge strong relationships with the natural world.

Philippe Delesalle shared the ACC’s deep belief in the value of environmentally intact mountain regions, sports and culture to the human spirit. He was a father, mountain lover, adventurer and architect who spent a lot of time in the Columbia Valley, and resided in Canmore until his passing in 2020. The ACC is honoured to help build a legacy of exposing youth to the alpine in Philippe’s name.

If you wish to contribute to the grant’s fund, or enquire about having your teen participate next year, please follow this link: