2. JESS ROSKELLEY, Alpinist
When you become the youngest person to climb Mount Everest at age 20, you have a lot of options as to what sort of adventure you embark on next. But Jess Roskelley set that record at a time in his life when he didn’t even know if he wanted to climb for a living. “I went to Everest on a whim,” he says of the 2003 ascent, which he did with his famous mountaineer father, John. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Now 35, Roskelley is emerging as one of America’s boldest alpinists, with a growing list of first ascents in some of the most remote mountain ranges in the world.
One important lesson Everest did teach Roskelley was that trophy summits like Everest definitely were not his thing. Instead, he kept returning to places like Alaska, where he would only bother roping up for routes that were extremely hard to get to—and had never been climbed. It wasn’t long before his talent linking vertical stretches of rock, snow, and ice, in crushing weather conditions, was obvious to the entire climbing world. He became a North Face athlete just this year and is eyeing routes in Alaska and Pakistan. “There are a few lines I’ve been dreaming about for years—I’m now aiming for those,” he says.
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