The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains

Barry Blanchard (Author)


With heart-pounding descriptions of avalanches and treacherous ascents, Barry Blanchard chronicles his transformation from a poor Native American/white kid from the wrong side of the tracks to one of the most respected alpinists in the world. At thirteen, he learned to rappel when he joined the 1292 Lord Strathcone's Horse Army Cadets. Soon kicked out for insubordination, he was already hooked on climbing and saw alpinism as a way to make his single mother proud and end his family's cycle of poverty. He describes early climbs attempted with nothing to guide him but written trail descriptions and the cajones of youth. He slowly acquires the skills, equipment and partners necessary to tackle more and more difficult climbs, farther and farther afield: throughout the Canadian Rockies, into Alaska and the French Alps and on to Everest, Peru, and the challenging mountains in Pakistan. From each he learns lessons that only nature and extreme endeavor can teach. This is the story of the culture of climbing in the days of punk rock, spurred on by the rhythm of adrenaline and the arrogance of youth. It is also a portrait of the power of the mountains to lift us - physically, emotionally, intellectually,

Product Details

$27.95  $25.71
Publish Date
October 07, 2014
6.3 X 1.4 X 9.4 inches | 1.85 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Barry Blanchard is one of North America's top alpinists, noted for pushing the standards of highly technical, high-risk alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies and the Himalayas. Blanchard is a Patagonia Ambassador. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.


Shortlist for The Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature, 2015

Finalist, Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival, Adventure Memoir, 2014

"The Calling is sure to make any reader with a shred of adventurous inclination wish to have climbed with Mr. Blanchard during the storm years of his strength. Once upon a time, the classics of the genre impelled Barry Blanchard into the alpine game. It is as inevitable as one of his cherished mountain sunrises that some young men and women will glean the same inspiration from The Calling." -- Wall Street Journal

"A legacy of technical and literary pioneers in alpine climbing in this extraordinarily well-written mountaineering memoir." -- Foreword Magazine

"Certainly not disappointed by the tales of climbing, I was also deeply impressed by the bravery, quality, tenderness, and vulnerability of Blanchard's writing." --

"What makes The Calling powerful is the fact that Blanchard does not varnish the story of where his chosen path takes him. As a result, the narrative is at times heartbreaking. The closeness that Blanchard discovers with certain climbing partners becomes painfully obvious as they are killed in accidents." -- Adventure Sports Journal

"I laughed. I cried. I thought about life. I couldn't put down [this] long-awaited memoir." -- Rocky Mountain Outlook

"A memoir that reads like a conversation over beers around the campfire, deep into the night. It offers the reader intimacy, captivating stories, and a unique chance to get the know the man described as Canada's best alpinist. Blanchard is a solid writer, and while he is already known for his poetic, descriptive prose, it shines in his first, full-length book." --

"Blanchard the master-storyteller writes as Blanchard the young alpinist climbed: passionately, full of heart. These stories are raw and superbly entertaining. Blanchard chronicles the "I hurt, therefore I am" era of mountain climbing." -- Steve House, alpinist, author, Training for the New Alpinism and Beyond the Mountain

"Blanchard describes the essence of an era when climbing was dangerous and sex was safe. Like listening to classic rock music, Barry's writing is just something I couldn't stop reading; it makes me feel good. Keep rockin'." -- Marko Prezelj, alpinist, photographer

"Blanchard is a great storyteller, and through his vivid characters and dramatic adventures he takes us on a journey through his early climbs in the Canadian Rockies to his later alpine-style ascents in the Himalaya. It's a compelling book - I couldn't put it down." - Steve Swenson, alpinist

"Blanchard's story of how, after growing up in a broken family on the prairies, he found his purpose and meaning in the mountains. Told through raw dialogue and striking images, what shines throughout is the respect and love Barry bears for his climbing partners. For Barry, sharing a rope on a mountain is emblematic of a deeply lived friendship." - Raphael Slawinski, alpinist

"Conservative librarians are going to hate this book. The rest of us will love it. Sex (first time), drugs, (oxygen deprivation and others) and rock and roll (OK, more punk than pure rock, but definitely full volume), all against a backdrop of hard climbing on the world's wildest peaks. This is a story of brothers putting it all out there together, to a soundtrack of full-bore punk, sex and wild mountains." - Will Gadd, climber, host of documentary series Fearless Planet