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Spokane’s Jess Roskelley, Scott Coldiron make long list for one of the world’s most prestigious climbing awards

UPDATED: Sat., July 13, 2019, 7:32 p.m.

Jess Roskelley (left) and Scott Coldiron pose for a photo after successfully climbing, for the first time, a 2,600-foot route in the Cabinet Mountains.
Jess Roskelley (left) and Scott Coldiron pose for a photo after successfully climbing, for the first time, a 2,600-foot route in the Cabinet Mountains.

Spokane climbers Scott Coldiron and the late Jess Roskelley have made the long list for one of the world’s most prestigious climbing awards.

The Piolets d’Or (or Golden Ice Ax) released a list of 58 significant ascents from 2018. On it was Coldiron and Roskelley’s successful November climb of a 2,600-foot gully on A Peak in the Cabinet Mountains, detailed in the Spokesman-Review.

“I really liked the fact that the climb that Jess and I did is the only climb from the lower 48 … on the list,” Coldiron said. “I’m really happy that was a climb I did with Jess and it was our last climb together … I’m really happy to have that memory with Jess.”

In April, Roskelley, 36, was killed when a cornice broke above him while descending from Howse Peak in Canada with Austrian climbers David Lama, 28, and Hansjörg Auer, 35. The trio, all North Face sponsored athletes, were testing new gear for the company.

One of Roskelley’s climbs in Pakistan was also included on the list as well as climbs that Lama and Auer completed.

According to the Piolets d’Or website the list honors “significant, innovative ascents in most mountain regions of the world, climbed during 2018, in alpine style, and without using drilled equipment.”

The new climb, which Roskelley and Coldiron named Canmore Wedding Party (AI5 M7, 2,625 feet), was a difficult and bold two-day climb in one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the Lower 48.

For the past four years Coldiron has developed new ice and mixed (climbing that involves both rock and ice) routes in the Cabinet Mountains around Granite Lake. He’s dubbed the area the “Thunderdome.”

Coldiron, who works full time for the City of Spokane fire department, learned about the list via Jess’ father, former world-class alpine climber John Roskelley.

“John sent me a text saying, ‘Congratulations you and Jess were included on the Piolets d’Or long list,’” Coldiron said. “And I thought he’d sent it to the wrong person because Jess climbed with a lot of famous climbers.”

Climbing in the Cabinets is a labor of love. With emphasis on the labor. During the winter Coldiron has to ski between 6 and 9 miles to reach the lake. It’s a remote and infrequently visited area, although it boasts world-class climbing.

“To me it’s something rather in the spirit of alpine ascents,” Coldiron said. “Finding an area that no one else is doing anything else in.”

John Roskelley, one of the world’s premier mountaineers in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Piolets d’Or in Chamonix, France, 2014.

The 2018 Piolets d’Or award will be awarded at the Ladek Mountain Festival in Poland, Sept. 19-22.

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