He would become the youngest American to summit the 29,000-foot peak, and be part of the only father-son team to summit the north face. His father, a professional climber of 40 years, made a career out of climbing through photojournalism for publications like National Geographic. Having ascended the 14,400-foot Mt. Rainier some 35 times as a guide, Jess was well prepared to team up with his dad.
On May 21, 2003, after two and a half months high in the Himalayas, Jess and John Roskelley reached the peak of Mt. Everest. Returning home to Spokane, Jess knew he needed a job which allowed him time to pursue his passion for climbing as well as his other outdoor hobbies—snowboarding and surfing.
After a series of construction and demolition jobs, Jess moved to Alaska to be near North America’s highest mountain range. He took a job as an apprentice mechanic with an oil services company, Little Red Services.
Jess soon learned that the rapidly growing company needed more certified welders to repair high-pressure pipes on its service trucks, and he volunteered for training. He researched training options worldwide and chose the Lincoln Electric Welding School in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The courses at Lincoln Electric were a better value, and certification was accelerated compared to other places I researched,” he said. “Plus, my company uses Lincoln Electric equipment, so I could learn on the same machines that I’ll be using in the field.”
He began with the basic stick-welding course at Lincoln Electric’s training center in early January 2008. Five weeks later he began pipe certification. Little Red Services was so impressed with his progress they recommended he stay in Cleveland for additional courses.
“I never knew how useful learning to stick weld could be,” he said. “I figured that no one really used stick anymore, but I like how portable and versatile it is. Now that I aced my weld test, I think the other welding processes will be a lot easier.”
Back in Alaska, Jess feels his certification will give him an advantage over other Little Red Services employees. “I think welding will give me more responsibility at work,” Jess said. Jess wants to settle down someday and sees welding as a great way to make that happen. As for climbing, the job also allows him enough time to climb Mt. McKinley and experience the Alaskan alpine climbing conditions of rock and ice.
During his welding training, Jess found many parallels between welding and mountain climbing.
“Like welding, climbing looks easy but your abilities depend on the strength of your instructors and your own personal commitment. My favorite part about training at Lincoln is how skilled and informed the instructors are,” Jess said.
“During a solo climb up Mt. McKinley the weather forced me to stay inside my tent half way up the mountain for two weeks. Completing the climb depended on my mental perseverance. I think welding is the same way. You need to tell yourself to focus and make a good weld. I can appreciate that because, like climbing, it requires patience, precision and dedication to develop the right skills.”
“Not only am I certified to weld, but I am actually good at it, and I enjoy it,” he said. “I can do things that require more skill which will help me move up in the company.”
Over the past several years, Jess has had several opportunities to join his father adventuring throughout the Himalayas. In 1997, he trekked in Ladakh, northwest India, and summited the 20,000-foot Stoke Kangri. In 1999, he assisted his father on a trek into Gangor Punsuum base camp, located in north central Bhutan on the Tibetan border. He said he enjoys Asia – its people and customs – and plans to use his guiding experience to lead treks in the future.
The Lincoln Electric Welding School performs courses throughout the year on the various types of arc welding methods to educate and train students in arc welding safety, processes, techniques and Lincoln products, as well as qualification and certification programs. For more information visit www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledge/training/weldschool.
The Lincoln Electric Company, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is the world leader in the design, development and manufacture of arc welding products, robotic arc welding systems, fume extraction equipment and plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment. The company holds a leading global position in the brazing and soldering alloys market. For more information, visit their website at www.lincolnelectric.com.