Raphael Slawinski

Nick Name: Raph

Gender: Male

Where were you born: Warsaw, Poland

Current Location: Calgary, Canada

Hobbies: Sometimes skiing. I have a one-track mind.

Motto: "If you can climb here (in the Canadian Rockies), you can climb anywhere." ��� David Cheesmond

Discipline: Alpine climbing

I got into climbing late, in my mid-twenties. And maybe it was for the best, as I'm still excited about it more than twenty years later. It was moving away from the Canadian Rockies to the flatlands of Chicago, where I went to grad school, which got me into climbing. There were no mountains to scramble, so I started rock and ice climbing on small Midwestern cliffs. These days I'm comfortably settled back in Calgary, on the doorstep of the Rockies. Fortunately my job as a physics professor leaves me lots (but never enough!) time to play in my favorite mountain range.

It's a good thing I like winter, because it's really, really long here. There's so much you can do: ice, mixed, ski … and sometimes, when the motivation's high and avy hazard low, even winter alpine. Don't get me wrong though, I love our summers too. High in the shadows of a big limestone north face, looking down on sunlit glaciers and forests far below, is one of the best places I can imagine being.

Ten years ago I discovered the great peaks of the Pakistani Karakoram. There's something among those giant pyramids of granite and ice, rising above arid, brown valleys, that I haven't found anywhere else. Whatever it is, it's drawn me back time and again.

Favorite SCARPA product: Phantom Guides. Light, warm and comfortable. My go-to boot for ice and alpine climbing.

What other SCARPA product do you use: It's a long list. For skiing, the Rush; for rock, the Feroce; for expeditions, the Phantom 6000; and for running around, the Moraine GTX.

Your biggest influence growing up: My dad. He's been climbing since the 1950s and he's the one who got me into the sport.

Biggest idol in your sport growing up: George Lowe, the physicist/alpinist.

What age did you start climbing: In my mid-twenties.

How would you describe your style: Technical. Definitely not powerful. Lots of stems and knee-drops, even on ice.

What can't you live without: My music, Old goth and industrial.

What keeps you motivated: Simply how much fun climbing is. If ultimately it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it.

If you could be a super hero who: I've never been into superheroes. I like my heroes human. Having to overcome your fear makes what you accomplish much more impressive.

Guilty pleasure song: Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"

Strangest medical issue: Starting up a single-push ascent of the Cassin Ridge on Denali, I was peeing red. I was freaking out, thinking I had internal bleeding. It turned out to be the antibiotics I was taking.

Favorite junk food: It's not exactly junk, but I love dried fruit.

Favorite post activity drink: Coming down from a big alpine climb, I've been known to drink a whole carton of orange juice, preferably with lots of pulp.

Best excuse to skip training: "It's been a long day at the uni…" But in the end I'm always glad I hit the gym.

Go-to dance move: The drunken sway.

Favorite ice cream: Good vanilla.

Coffee or tea: Both. For coffee, only espresso, though.

What do you do on off days: I don't take many. I never train very hard, but I like to do something, whether a trail run or some plastic bouldering, every day.

Last movie to make you cry: I honestly can't remember. Music-wise, the last movement of Mahler's Eighth Symphony always comes close.

Favorite classic movie: The Evil Dead trilogy.

What's on your ipod: Rammstein. Nachtmahr. Skinny Puppy. Chopin.

Hidden talent/party trick: Front splits.

What kind of car do you drive: A wannabe sport car, a two-door Honda Accord.

Personal Blog: Raphael Slawinski's Blog