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Canada's greatest explorers 2015

Raphael Slawinski

Photo credit: Arc'teryx/Chris Noble

First ascender

Expertise: Adventure, Climbing

By Michela Rosano

Being a mountain climber is dangerous: avalanches, exhaustion and injuries are all risks, as is — at least for Raphael Slawinski and climbing partner Ian Welsted — the threat of Taliban militants. In 2013, just days before the veteran alpinist became the first to summit the northwest face of 7,040-metre Himalayan peak K6 West in Pakistan, members of the Taliban had executed 11 people at a nearby base camp.

“We had put our lives on hold for two months. So while this gave us pause, it was not something that turned us around,” Slawinski later told the Calgary Herald. It’s that perseverance that’s led the physics and astronomy professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University to dozens of first ascents, many in Canada’s Rockies, during his two-decade climbing career. He’s currently forging a new route up the northeast face of Mount Everest.


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