Top Calgary winter climber Raphael Slawinski was on two first ascents this week, one up the new route Banana Peel and The Sphynx on Storm Creek Headwall (the area is currently featured in Gripped magazine).

The Sphynx was climbed with Niall Hamill, who’s bagged a number of new routes this year. The 125-metre M7+ WI5 climbs steep ice and solid but tricky limestone. Hamill noted that they found a piton on the route, which might have belonged to the late Dave Thompson.

“It is possible that the first two pitches were climbed differently, as there are a handful of weaknesses that lead to the same ice features. We think it may be from the late Dave Thompson, an early pioneer of mixed climbing in this zone… We are very certain that the crux pitch we climbed on the third, was not ascended prior, for lack of natural pro in it’s upper part…” Read more on Hamill’s blog here.

Banana Peel is a 110-metre M6 WI5 that Slawinski climbed with Juan Henriquez and Maia Schumacher. Of the three obvious flows left of Buddha Nature, it’s the middle one.

Slawinski wrote on his regularly-updated blog here: “Placing a bolt next to climbable ice seemed wrong, but at least it’d keep me attached to the cliff should the strip decide to peel away.

“However, the ice stayed put, and an hour later Juan was swinging his way up the brittle chandeliers of the last pitch. Given the character of the ice and my fondness for the fruit, Banana Peel seemed like an appropriate name.”

It has been a historic year for the number of new mixed, alpine and ice routes being established. Look for a full list in the next issue of Gripped magazine.

Banana Peel and The Sphynx Topo Niall Hamill

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