The biggest and saddest outdoor story from 2019 was the death of Spokane climber Jess Roskelley.
Roskelley was killed in April when a cornice collapsed while climbing a difficult and dangerous line on Howse Peak in Canada. Roskelley, who had recently become a sponsored athlete for The North Face, was climbing with world-renowned alpinists David Lama and Hansjorg Auer. All three were killed, sending shock waves through the climbing and outdoor world.
More than 700 people showed up for Roskelley’s vigil.
In other mountain losses, the sole surviving members of the South Selkirk caribou herd were captured by Canadian officials and moved farther north in January. The relocation marked the end (for now) of caribou in the Lower 48.
Mountain Gear announced in December it would be closing. The gear shop, which opened in 1983, has slowly lost business to Amazon over the past two decades, owner and founder Paul Fish said.
While the closure leaves a hole in the Spokane outdoor community, Fish hopes people will remember the good adventures and times Mountain Gear helped facilitate.
“I’m at peace with the choice if not the process,” he said.
In late 2018, Cash and Mishka Washington’s first Karelian Bear Dogs to work for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife died. Over the course of their respective careers, they assisted in hundreds of wildlife conflict calls. The two canines helped bust poachers, find and save orphaned cougar kittens and proved that a couple lied about being attacked by a cougar.
In happier news, longtime Idaho Department of Fish and Game director Virgil Moore retired after working for the agency in various roles for four decades.
“Fish and Game has a special culture that is conducive to long careers – I refer to it as our Fish and Game family, and I mean that in the closest sense,” he told the Idaho Statesman in January.
In April, Washington joined nine other states in allowing hunters to wear fluorescent pink.
After 20 years, Spokane’s 24 Hours Round the Clock mountain bike race took its final lap in May.
Finally, in an innovative and exciting development, IDFG is developing a virtual reality program that would allow new hunters to learn how to field dress an elk. The effort is in the hopes of attracting much-needed younger hunters.