Legendary Canmore alpinist in hospital with head injury receives mountain of support

Over $140,000 has been raised to help a legendary alpinist based in Canmore, Alta., who climbed Everest three times but suffered skull fractures earlier this month when he fell down some stairs.

Barry Blanchard, 62, was on holidays in Regina when he slipped on some stairs, fell and hit his head, according to a GoFundMe organized by Jesse de Montigny, managing director of Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and longtime friend of Blanchard.

The accident caused multiple skull fractures and brain bleeds, but surgery was not required.

Blanchard is one of North America’s most successful alpinists and has been a climbing guide with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures since December 1981.

Mountain guide Barry Blanchard short-ropes Bonnie Hamilton during the making of Shining Mountains, a TV mini-series that aired in 2005. (Pat Morrow/Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies)

He was part of the first group to ascend the Andromeda Strain on Mount Andromeda in Alberta in 1983, along with Dave Cheesmond and Tim Friesen, and he has climbed Mount Everest three times.

Injuries not life-threatening, but recovery will be long

On Aug. 10, Blanchard’s climbing partner Andy Arts said on Facebook that while Blanchard’s recovery is going well, he has “memory loss and is unable to communicate his thoughts or feelings. He has difficulty forming sentences and often cannot find words.”

“Recovery time is looking to be lengthy, and Barry will need all the help and support he can get,” says the GoFundMe post. “Barry is a big part of the guiding and climbing community, and he will need our support.”

As of Aug. 18, he was still in hospital in Saskatchewan and will return to Alberta in the “near future,” but no date is set.

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