The community of Canmore, Alta., and people far beyond the Bow Valley are rallying behind Barry Blanchard, a beloved mountain guide and cherished leader in the climbing community.
The legendary alpinist suffered a severe head injury when he slipped on some stairs while on vacation in Saskatchewan.
“He did end up with some skull fractures and a little bit of bleeding that seems to be stabilizing itself, but he has been unconscious, mainly, for the time he’s been in the ICU,” said Jesse De Montigny, director of operations at Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.
De Montigny said Blanchard’s injuries are not life-threatening but could be life-altering. A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money to help Blanchard and his family navigate his injury.
“There’s a lot of people offering to help, and at this point, it’s so new (that) it’s hard to tell what he will need in the distant future,” said De Montigny, who is a friend and fellow guide.
“Barry is larger than life and such a kind person.”
“We are all in shock,” said friend Janet McLeod. “Barry is a strong, beautiful man who consistently overcomes.”
McLeod added that everyone is just trying to figure out what they can do to help.
Blanchard not only mentors on the mountain but has helped guide many through their darkest seasons of life.
He’s been a huge force in Mountain Muskox, a first-of-its-kind, peer-led support group that helps people overcome loss and trauma experienced in the mountains.
“He very much stood with me in the pit,” said Adam Campbell, who lost his wife in an avalanche. “He too suffered tragedy. He lost many friends in the mountains but he understands why someone would be drawn to go back to those mountains, and he made it OK for me to do that.
“Barry has given us all so much, it’s time that we now step up and give back to this man who has given so much.”