Ep. 24 - Bolts, Figure Fours and the M-Revolution with Raphael Slawinski

Jun 26, 2024

Mixed climbing was always part of the alpinist’s bag of tricks 🪄, but the technical and impossibly steep style we know these days only started to come into its own in the ‘90s.

The period has been referred to as the Modern M-Revolution — a period when grades advanced rapidly, from about M8 to M13 📈 — and lasted roughly from the mid-90s to the early 2010s. It was punctuated at the start by Jeff Lowe’s ascent of “Octopussy” (WI6 M8 R) in 1994 and perhaps came to its conclusion in 2012 when Robert Jasper climbed “Iron Man” in totally dry conditions and officially denoted it with a “D” grade (D14+), effectively spitting off a distinct discipline.

Today, we chat with Raphael Slawinski, one of the leading mixed climbers during this time. Some of his accomplishments include sending some of the first M10s and M11s in Canada, climbing out the Stanley Headwall (including many routes he established), and topping out the unclimbed 7040m K6 West in Pakistan with Ian Welsted, for which they won a Piolets d’Or. I want to note that he managed all of this as a quote-unquote “weekend warrior”, since his full time profession is physics professor. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • 🧊 The evolution of mixed climbing (and the role of bolts)

  • 🧊 Advancements in techniques and equipment

  • 🧊 His “honest introduction” and progression in the sport

  • 🧊 Desire vs. judgement

  • 🧊 Close calls and risk management

  • 🧊 His relationship with the Stanley Headwall

  • 🧊 Social media and climbing documentation

Resources and links:

If you want to follow what Raphael is up to, you can’t. But you can help him reach 1,000 followers on instagram. His handle is @raphael.slawinski.

There are a bunch of articles and resources mentioned in the interview:


📸 Cover photo by Leif Godberson (@leifrdenby)

Credits: Intro music by Hannah Noelle Enomoto (thanks, sis!). This episode was edited by Andrew Salomone of salomonesound.com. 

Sponsors: As always, a big thank you to Aniiu Gloves and Furnace Industries for supporting this show!

Patreon: Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the conversation and want to help us do many more, consider supporting us on Patreon.  (And for less than the price of a bougie beer per month!).

Get notified about new episodes ➡

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.