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Update on Barry Blanchard’s Condition Post-Injury, Fundraiser Open

Blanchard is improving every day, but will be recovering from a serious head injury for some time to come

Barry “Bubba” Blanchard is one of North America’s most legendary and successful alpine climbers. He suffered a serious injury in a non-climbing related accident last week. He’s based in Canmore and works as a mountain guide for Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.

While on holidays, Blanchard slipped on some stairs, fell and hit his head. He sustained skull fractures which have left him in the hospital. The injuries are not life-threatening, but are significant.

On Aug. 14, Blanchard’s longtime friend and climbing partner, Andy Arts, made a public update about his condition: Barry’s going to have to learn things all over. Little things like holding a mug, knowing who’s family, etc. But each day there is movement forward, no matter how small it is, it’s forward movement. He is having a good morning today. He seems to know his life partner Nic, his sister Kim and mom. He spoke on the phone to his daughters and was quite lucid. He just learned what a phone was yesterday. Imagine not really understanding that you can talk to people through this device! He walks to the bathroom, but is still confused about all sort of things. He’s slow and in pain. But, forward movement. Like any head injury, he is mostly resting and sleeping as ll his efforts are exhausting. But you can still see the “Warrior” fighting hard to make sense of everything. An intrinsic instinct built on decades of learning and protecting his people and land. A proud Métis not giving in, but charging ahead with courage and strength of spirit and heart.

fundraiser organized by Yamnuska has raised over $100,000 for Blanchard’s long road to recovery, and it will remain open for the foreseeable future. Arts added, “The family would like to send out a huge thanks for all the support everyone is giving. Your love is felt and needed.”

Blanchard is an honorary member of the Alpine Club of Canada, winner of the Summit of Excellence award and his book, The Calling, A Life Rocked by Mountains was shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Book Competition and won the Boardman Tasker prize for mountain literature. Head over to the fundraiser page here to read some heartwarming messages from friends and clients from around the world.

Update Aug. 17 from Andy Arts: Latest discussion with the doctor tells us Barry doesn’t need surgery–great news! However, he’s not out of the woods for neurological complications related to his specific injuries. He will be coming home to Alberta in the near future to the care of a neurosurgeon, but there is no date yet set for that. Barry has spoken by cell phone to his immediate family as well as a few friends. My conversation went like this: “Hey Bubba, I love you.” “Andrew, the Artiste, how are you? Love you too.” “So great to hear your voice, Barry.” “Okay, I have to go to sleep.” Not all conversations are that clear, however, or even recalled. Barry’s family wants to thank everyone so much for the love and prayers and well-wishes, and are overwhelmed by the incredible generosity that we are seeing with the fundraiser.

Watch Blanchard talk about some of his most famous climbs in a video series from this past year organized by Yamnuska.

The Andromeda Strain and East Face of Fay

North Pillar of North Twin and The Wild Thing

Edith Cavell and Howse Peak

Mount Alberta and Temple

Silver Lining and M-16

Sans Blitz and Infinite Patience