The premiere of a new film about Canadian climbing legend Barry Blanchard just screened at the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival to a standing ovation. Blanchard, who was inducted into the Bow Valley Sports Hall of Fame this year, has long been one of Canada’s best-known alpinists and mountain guides.
His routes on the north face of North Twin, the east face of Mount Fay, and the Emperor Face of Mount Robson are among the hardest in Canada. In 1984, he climbed the north face of Rakaposhi with Kevin Doyle and Dave Cheesmond. Then in 1988, with Ward Robinson, Mark Twight and Kevin Doyle, he almost succeeded in an alpine-style ascent of the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat.
In 2015, Blanchard’s book The Calling received The Boardman Tasker Award, and over the years he’s been at the centre of countless articles and events, but no film has ever captured his life in such a poetic and complete way as Spindrift: the Barry Blanchard Story.
A few years ago, Blanchard was in a non-climbing related accident that nearly killed him. Spindrift, which was being produced at the time, is passionately narrated by Blanchard during his recovery.
Like The Calling, Spindrift highlights Blanchard’s bold ascents, friendships and connection to the mountains, but instead of viewing them through a rock and roll lens, we see his past through one of deep reflection and love – and we get a glimpse of what is yet to come.
A big shoutout to the folks who made this amazing film, including Andy Arts, Ivan Hughes, Kathleen Wiebe, Nikki Tate and Hank Van Weeldon, for creating what is certainly one of the best films at the festival this year.
If you want to watch Spindrift or any of the other films at the festival but can’t make it to Banff, you’re in luck because you can watch them online here.