American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Where the Clouds Can Go

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  • Publication Year: 1935

Where the Clouds Can Go. The autobiography of Conrad Kain. Edited, with additional chapters, by J. Monroe Thorington. 8 vo. ; xxiv + 462 pages, with index and 29 illustrations. New York: American Alpine Club, 1935. Price $3.00.

Only the other evening, friend Conrad, we were sitting by the campfire. Lighting your pipe with a glowing end of twig, you said : "I know that I will not be a leader in the hills forever, but maybe my experiences would be of some help to climbers.” And now this is the pageant of your days.

A goatherd on the faraway Rax ; a quarryman turned poacher and become a mountain guide. What a bad soldier you made of yourself in that long ago time before Der Tag; how nearly did an officer come to a bayonet thrust! Your travels began, carrying you away from the Loswand precipices to the Ennsthal mountains (which you made so very much your own), to Tyrol and Switzerland. The things you never forgot : the Rosengarten beyond Tiers, where you and Schroffenegger played with “meal-sack” technique on the Delago tower; that journey to lovely Corsica, when you came to know the sea ; those days when you stormed the Grépon and fled from a volley of stones in the streets of Chamonix. How far from home it seemed when you laid field flowers on Zsigmondy’s grave ; when you stood upon Cottian and Maritime peaks. What days those were when you used a wooden peg on the Aiguille Méridionale d’Arve; when you led proudly up the Guglia di Brenta, and followed Piaz through the maze of Marmolata’s south wall.

Yours was a wandering foot ; home could not hold you, nor women. Beyond the horizon lay romance. Student in Vienna, Nasswalder in London ; wanderer on distant seas. Canada, New Zealand and the Altai mountains of Siberia bear marks of your pioneering. Robson and Mt. Cook ; Whitehorn, Louis and the Bugaboo Spire—were you thinking of the little Rax when you built those cairns?

How you loved life—life which gave you little save the wild flowers, the creatures of forest and alpland, and sunset glories. You told us the secret of that vision.

Where the clouds can go—men can go, but they must be hardy men. And, of course, that is where you have gone. No sadness there. When the hunter’s moon waxes you will steal out in a western wilderness to stalk the goat and grizzly. You will be there a thousand years from now, guiding our tomorrows.

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