Raphael Slawinki's take on Mentoring

Alpine Mentors was really lucky to have such an accomplished, all-around alpinist to join us for this expedition. Raphael has been one of the most active climbers in the Canadian Rockies for the last 20 years and resently won the Piolet d'Or for his first accent of K6 West in Pakistan.

Thank you Raph for joining us on this trip and sharing your experience with us.


Read about Raph's take on mentoring and the recent trip.


- Steve House




Humble Horse on the north face of Diadem Peak was my first “hard” alpine route. Or at least it was the first route I’d ever done where you couldn’t sit down anywhere. Stopping for a drink and a bite meant kicking out a foot ledge in the ice, hanging the pack from a screw, and carefully fishing out bottle and sandwich. Anything you dropped, be it a piece of ice or a snack, would end up in the ‘schrund hundreds of metres below. Still, given all the gear I dragged up and over the route, it couldn’t have been that hard. Empty, my pack weighed nearly three kilos. A board-stiff Gore-Tex suit, plastic boots, Footfangs, a Canadian Tire sleeping bag, a bulbous Peak 1 stove: today I wouldn’t like to hike with that kind of weight, much less climb vertical pitches with it. Luckily twenty years ago I didn’t know any better.

Cody Wollen on the first roped pitch of Humble Horse.
Cody Wollen on the first roped pitch of Humble Horse.



I like the mountains up north. I like the endless days of late spring, the glaciers filling the valleys from wall to wall – and the massive blueberry pancakes at the Roadhouse in Talkeetna. When Steve House asked if I would join him as a mentor on a June trip to Denali, visions of the Alaska Range filled my head. But mentoring? What could I offer to twenty-something climbers who were probably stronger and fitter than me? Then I thought back to the long, long days Jim and I’d shared on the Rockies’ shattered rubble (Jim also liked to say that most alpine routes are day routes, provided you keep in mind that a day has twenty four hours). I might've been the stronger rock and ice climber, but without Jim’s experience to lean on I would’ve never launched up something like Chephren. Read more...