The Conrad Kain Centennial Society is intimately familiar with Kain’s true life story. Some of us in the society read Keith Powell’s novel Raising Kain when it first appeared, winced, and privately hoped it would die a quiet death. But Powell’s relentless self-promotion of the book seems to be paying off, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away soon.
His attempt to “cheese-up” Conrad Kain’s life story by introducing a bizarre and distasteful link to the Nazi era that developed in Europe years after Kain’s death have many Kain fans shaking their heads in disbelief.
There’s a bright light on the horizon for Kain fans. Climbing historian Zac Robinson, who is not only well-versed in Canadian climbing history, mountain culture and is an accomplished climber himself, will release his exhaustively researched nonfiction book, Your Friend in the Western Woods, Conrad Kain: Letters from a Wandering Mountain Guide, 1906-1933, to be published by the University of Alberta Press in 2013.
In the meantime, if anyone would care to read the unadulterated version of Kain’s life, J. Monroe Thorington’s book, Where the Clouds Can Go, is considered the gold standard of reference material on Canada’s most celebrated mountaineer. In fact, this book is the source material for much of Powell’s novel.