Raphael Slawinski and Eamonn Walsh have made the first ascent of a specular line, Lacelle Qui Reste (WI6, 40 meters), on Mt. Wilson in the Canadian Rockies, on December 30. Lacelle Qui Reste is in the bowl north of the classic Les Miserables area. Slawinski climbed the route as a tribute to his friend Guy Lacelle, who died in an avalanche in 2009: The route name is a play on words: "The One That Remains."
Lacelle was perhaps the most accomplished ice soloists of all time, and a frequent partner for Slawinski. “One of the things that had always impressed me about Guy,” says Slawinski, “was his open mindedness and acceptance of new developments in climbing (like M-climbing). Another was his kindness to all living things, as demonstrated for example through his vegetarianism. I try to keep his example in these and other matters in mind.”
Slawinski, with Lacelle, first saw the climb on Mt. Wilson in 2004. “We speculated about the massive approach, the rock climbing below the pillar, the integrity of the column itself—but never got around to trying it. The pillar didn't form again, and on December 10, 2009 Guy died in an avalanche,” he says.
“This winter the pillar was back, dropping over a rock band halfway up the mountain, gracefully tapering toward its base. I thought about how much a pure ice line like this one would have appealed to Guy. It seemed appropriate to attempt it with Eamonn, another pure spirit.”
The pillar, notes Slawinski, “was pure fun.” After a surprisingly moderate approach, Slawinski and Eamonn arrived at the base. Slawinski considered climbing the pillar’s more moderate left side, but he says, “This route deserved my best effort, and that meant climbing the proud line up the front. And it didn't disappoint. The porcelain-blue sky above; the late-afternoon shadows on the mountains across the valley; the familiar grey and yellow limestone on either side; and the Roman candle of ice I was on. Guy would have liked it.”
This route deserved my best effort, and that meant climbing the proud line up the front.
Slawinski, 45, is a physics professor in Alberta who began mountaineering and ice climbing 20 years ago, and is one of the main protagonists of hard modern alpine and ice climbing. His ascents include the first ascent of the Dogleg Couloir (V/VI M7 A1 1,300 meters) on Mt. Chephren, in 2008, the Direct Wild Thing (VI M7 WI5) also on Chephren (2009), and the first free ascent of The Day After Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot (M7 WI6, 270 meters), on the Stanley Headwall in 1997, a route that Slawinski says showed him that “I could actually climb hard.”