Good Reads: The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains

The reasonably sycophant-free climbing world’s heralding The Calling as “most anticipated book of 2014” may have seemed odd, but the biography from Canmore, Alberta-based Barry “Bubba” Blanchard had little trouble fitting the bill.

Noted for pushing the standards of highly technical, high-risk alpine climbing in the 1980s, the respected writer and guide employs free-wheeling style, heart-pounding description, and razor-sharp recollection to chronicle his ascent from poor Prairie kid on the wrong side of the tracks to one of the world’s most accomplished alpinists.


Early climbs that are accomplished with little but teenage cojones morph to calculated ambition, a climbing sojourn in Chamonix, and the inevitable halting steps into more isolated ranges with a cast of notable partners. Each expedition delivers the kind of lessons only nature and extreme endeavor can teach, ultimately capturing the power of mountains to lift us—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. As a portrait of climbing culture in the days of punk rock, the rhythms of adrenaline and youthful arrogance that run throughout make the book’s accompanying playlist entirely appropriate.

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