Jess Roskelley was once the youngest America to summit Everest, at age 20, and he did it with his
dad. But Jess doesn’t climb to follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact, despite his father being a professional climber, Roskelley
didn’t really become obsessed with climbing into well into his 20s. Lately, he’s been busy making up for lost time.
To many American climbers, especially anyone familiar with the history of American high-altitude mountaineering, the name Roskelley is immediately familiar. John Roskelley was one of the leading Himalayan climbers on the 1970s and 1980s. And he is also the father of CAMP USA athlete Jess. Over the past few years, Jess has been climbing difficult (and new) mixed and technical winter alpine routes in Alaska, Canada, and the western US. Jess Roskelley is now 32 years old and lives in Spokane, WA where he was raised.
How did you start climbing and why did you stick with it?
I started climbing because I have a father that was a professional climber, so naturally I had an interest in it young. I stuck with it because the rewards of being in nature are so great and nothing makes me feel better than being high on an alpine face somewhere. All the typical sports bored me.
I’d say anything in the Ghost Valley or in the Icefields Parkway are my favorite places. Ultimately though, I have to steal a quote from Mark Twight: “I don’t care about what I climb, only how it affects me. Success merely punctuates the experience.” A couple favorite accomplishments have been: Alaska’s Kichatna Range – Hypa Zypa Couloir
(3,700′, VI AI5+ M6+ 5.10R A3)[with fellow CAMP USA athlete Ben Erdmann] and No rest for the Wicked (IV+ AI6 M7) on the West Witch’s Tit in SE Alaska.
What motivates you or draws you into your sub discipline of
I enjoy all types of climbing. I don’t have a sub discipline but rather I try to be disciplined in them all. I’m an Alpinist to the core. Weather i’m bouldering, sport climbing, ice climbing or traveling across the glacier i consider it all practice. All of the disciplines prepare my mind and body for the leads I take in alpine settings when you’re cold hungry and tired. Alpine is the decathlon of the climbing world.
Does your work/employment complement your climbing? Make you better at some aspect of climbing? Or is climbing an escape from work?
I’m a welder and welding inspector. My line of work functions for climbing only because it makes enough cash to support the climbing addiction. Most of the time.
If you could give any training / improving / climbing advice to
yourself 5 yrs ago, what would it be?
I would tell myself that being able to climb high rock and ice grades is helpful for large alpine routes but being mentally ready will be the difference between success and failure.
Do you have any plans/goals for the next year that you’d share?
I do have plans! Patagonia soon, then Alaska and I’m really trying to get a Himalayan trip in there for 2015 but I’ll see how much welding I have to do to get me there.
If you could only eat one breakfast for the rest of your life (you eat the same thing every day) what would it be? You don’t have to pay for it.
Good question! I like where you’re going with this. You can tell a lot about someone by seeing their favorite breakfast. For instance, somebody that just has toast for breakfast is either in a big hurry or they are boring. I dig a cinnamon roll and some OJ. That probably means I’m sweet and hot……..or maybe not a super healthy eater.