Ice Climbing Palouse Falls

ice-climbing-palouse-falls
Photo by Spokane photographer Rike Ream

Q: Tell us a little about your background and who you are.

A: My name is Jess Roskelley I’m a 34-year-old Spokane native. I’m an Adidas Outdoor and DMM athlete. I climb mountains all over the world and in between my trips I’m a welder.

Q: Palouse Falls is in a fairly remote location. If you would have fallen, help wouldn’t arrive for quite sometime, plus the terrain is quite difficult for a responder to navigate with all their stuff. Did that affect your decision in ice climbing Palouse Falls at all?

A: No, Everywhere I climb, whether it be Patagonia, Nepal or Alaska is very dependent on getting myself out of trouble. My partner has my life in his hands. This is what makes climbing something special as a sport. you have to be willing to hang it out a bit. Also I didn’t feel I was in any danger on the spray ice on Palouse falls.

Q: As far as we know, no one has ever ice climbed Palouse Falls, how does it feel to potentially be the first to successfully climb it?

A: It’s cool to try new things. My main motivation as a climber is to find new and interesting climbing. I think it just feels good to try things nobody wants to try.

Q: The surrounding frozen walls of Palouse Falls is made from the mist of the waterfall did you get any of that while climbing? Did the mist affect you ability to climb the frozen Walls?

A: This was the most difficult part of climbing the spray ice. We knew that it would be wet and cold. The spray did create some ice on my dry suit but it was so cold it just broke off when i would move. I was more worried about how cold my hands would be but i ended up staying pretty warm.

Q: Tell us about your planning and mental preparation of ice climbing Palouse Falls?

A: No planing really at all. we knew it would be cold and the ice was just solid enough to climb. One of my best buddies went and scoped it out a few days prior and he brought the dry suits. We mostly winged it.

Q: What type of mind frame do you get into when you’re climbing difficult routes like Palouse Falls?

A: To be honest with you, Palouse falls was fairly easy. Spray ice is weird because it’s not good solid ice. It doesn’t take the ice screws (protection in case of a fall) very well. So I guess the frame of mind on that route was just don’t fall because there wasn’t much holding me if I do take a fall.

Q: Did you have anyone with you on this particular occasion?

A: I did. I had Scott Coldiron with me climbing. He is a 48-year-old crusher and is an excellent ice and rock climber.

Q: We heard you climbed Mt Everest, that’s quite the achievement. What kind of pleasure do you find in doing extreme sports like mountaineering and ice climbing?

A: Well it certainly becomes an addiction. Once you start on a path of climbing hard things around the world, life feels rather mundane when you are not doing it. Its to the point now where i define myself by the climbing I do. It’s hard to envision where I’d be without it. so instead of just getting pleasure out of climbing it has become who I am.

Q: What did it feel like getting to the top?

A: I’m pretty casual so I was just stoked we had fun and had a great day out with my bro’s

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of ice climbing?

A: Mental game! Ice is not solid so once you wrap your mind around the fact that ice breaks then your good to go. Experience allows you to better judge what the conditions of the ice are. I know what is safe and what is not for the most part.

Q: What’s next on your hit list?

A: Patagonia. I leave in a couple of days to go rip it up if the weather gods allow.

Q: Do you have any words of inspiration for anyone trying to get into Ice Climbing and where they could start?

A: Ice climbing is a great sport. It’s different from rock climbing for obvious reasons but I think it is easier. What is hard is getting your mind around the fact that ice is not totally solid. Starting out I’d sign up for the Bozeman Ice Fest. You can rent the gear and go out with an instructor and see if you dig it. It’s expensive to start out so make sure your stoked on it.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: Maybe just that climbing is a good sport. Its hard and takes a lot of work but the experiences are irreplaceable.


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