Prominent Canmore guide and alpinist Barry Blanchard narrowly avoided a confrontation with a grizzly bear on Monday in Banff National Park. Blanchard was taking a Japanese client to climb the north glacier of Mt. Aberdeen when they encountered a grizzly bear below the Mt. Fairview Trail.
Blanchard and his client backed off slowly and used a firm tone to talk to the bear (click here to watch a funny video on surviving a bear attack with the crew at Backpacker—it may or may not involve an intern in a bear suit), but it began following them down the trail. Blanchard said the bear followed them for about 300 meters, stopped and sat down, and then continued trailing the pair. Once the grizzly came within 10 meters of the climbers, they dropped their packs in an attempt to distract the animal and scrambled up a nearby tree to escape. But the bear didn't relent—after tearing apart the packs (which contained a cell phone), he started up the tree after them. Here's an account from Blanchard:
“When the wind gusts would come, I would lean into the wind, and the whole time the bear was snapping off branches, coming up the tree. It was terrifying. He went back to the packs and started ripping the packs apart, and he started coming to the tree again. I screamed at him to go away, threw a headlamp at him, and he started off down the trail. We waited another half hour in the tree.
"We thought after half an hour, maybe he’d be gone. We screamed for help some more, but he came back up the trail. All I can assume is he was waiting for us to come out of the tree.”
The bear eventually left the pair alone, and a hiker who came up the trail a short while later was able to call for help.
Parks Canada recommends that hikers carry bear spray, which Blanchard did not have at the time.
Read the full report here.