John Roskelley was born in Spokane, Washington in 1948. In 1965 he asked his father's permission to sign up for the Spokane Mountaineers basic climbing course, and within months John had climbed Mounts Rainier, Shuksan, and Moran. From that point he moved headlong into the world of climbing: Some of his most notable climbs include the 1973 third ascent of the northeast ridge of Dhaulagiri; the 1976 first ascent via the northwest face of Nanda Devi; and a 1989 new route on the Northeast face of Tawoche. His climbing partners have included, among others, Jim Wickwire, Greg Child, and Jeff Lowe. Roskelley still resides in Spokane.