The life, spirit and humor of Spokane alpinist Jess Roskelley will be celebrated by his family, friends and admirers during a memorial Friday.
“We want to make people laugh,” Allison Roskelley said Wednesday. “We know people will cry, too.”
The event was designed by his family to celebrate the nonclimbing side of Roskelley, said Allison, his wife.
In April, the 36-year-old Spokane climber was killed by an avalanche while climbing Howse Peak with Austrian climbers David Lama, 28, and Hansjörg Auer, 35.
Roskelley’s climbing exploits are what the wider-world knows him for, but Allison emphasized that he was much more than a climber.
“He’s such a unique and complex individual,” she said. “A husband. A welder. A dog dad.”
And a climber.
He juggled all those roles, sometimes with difficulty and sometimes with poise, pouring his devotion and passion into each. Recently, he’d earned a spot on The North Face’s team and was close to making a living climbing full time, Allison said.
During the memorial, there will be a 15-minute photo slideshow along with a video “blooper” reel of some of Roskelley’s climbing expeditions. Roskelley was known for his sense of humor, often pulling practical jokes on and off the mountain.
There will be several guest speakers, including Jess’ father John Roskelley, his sister Jordan Roskelley and Allison. Famed American alpinist Conrad Anker will also speak, as will several of Roskelley’s friends and climbing partners.
His oldest sister, Dawn Roskelley, will sing a song in tribute to her brother.
The service will open with a prayer and end with a Buddhist ceremony, and will feature alpine flowers in honor of Roskelley’s love for the mountains.
Although Roskelley was not religious, he was spiritual and developed an appreciation for numerous religions and paths during his climbing trips, Allison said. It is a tradition during Himalayan climbs to have a Buddhist monk bless the expedition and gear before embarking on a climb.
The service is open to the public, as is the after-party. A reception will feature Roskelley’s favorite beers and candy, as well as pizza and live music.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.