Calgary-based Raphael Slawinski is one of Canada’s leading alpinists and in the spring of 2015, he’s traveling to attempt Mount Everest.
Slawinski will be attempting a new route on the Northeast Face with German climbers David Gottler and Daniel Bartsch. Leaving on April 6, they plan to spend about a month acclimatizing before attempting the route without supplemental oxygen.
National Geographic Interview With Slawinski: “So, yes, there is a real risk that we just keep escalating. It’s natural for climbers to always be looking for something bigger. The key is to not let ambition get the better of me, to go for objectives that are meaningful, to stay within my comfort zone, and to make sure I don’t feel obligated to do something just because I think somehow it is expected of me.”
Slawinski has been training for months for the physically demanding trip. “I’ve been lugging packs full or rocks up hill, dumping the rocks on top coming down getting more, then repeating,” said Slawinski about his Everest preparation.
In 1988, Barry Blanchard and Mark Twight attempted the face. The only route up the face is Zakharov’s Couloir, it has seen three ascents and no fatalities. Slawinski’s team will be attempting a new route to the right or left.
Slawinski has never climbed one of the 14 8,000-metre peaks, but does have many expeditions to the Himalayas to his name.
Gottler and Bartsch have climbed a number of high Himalayan peaks and are regarded as two of the finest high altitude alpininsts in the world.
Watch this short film about David Gottler produced the The North Face in March 2015:
NOTE: An earlier edition of this story noted that Slawinski was going to the Kangshung Face.