The Climbers

For the past two weeks it dominated every news report. At first, I assumed the three missing climbers, trapped on Mt. Hood, had been conducting research, taking test samples or performing some other scientific exercise. No, I found, Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke, were “recreational climbers.” They were, as a family spokesperson later related, “pursuing their passion.”

Sunday, December 10th brought a frightening cell phone call from James. For some reason he was hunkered in a snow cave and the others had “gone for help.” His call sent a small army of searchers into action.

Over the next ten days with law-enforcement people in charge, volunteer climbing experts with skis and snowshoes put their lives on the line to scour the mountain.. C-130 aircraft conducted flights around the clock with sensing devices. Helicopters large and small flew in to search. The U.S. Army sent a cadre of climbers. Worsening weather conditions hampered their efforts. The anxious families, professing Christian faith, prayed for their beloved men. A watching world tuned in to hourly news reports.

Sadly, rescue was not to be. The body of Kelly James, frozen to death, cell phone on and drained of power, still at his side, was found in a makeshift snow cave. The others, thought to have fallen to their death, may never be found. Photos, in a camera on James revealed that the men had gambled with the elements and were “traveling light” for a “quick trip” to the top.

The Bible calls the insignificant achievements of this world a “corruptible crown.” Heartbreaking though it is, the best that can be said of these dear men is that “they died doing what they loved to do. To compound it all, taxpayers of the State of Oregon get the bill for the ill-fated rescue, at least $100,000! “Oh mighty Christ,” my heart cries, “I want to live and die for more than fun.” Don’t you?


  1. Well put. What a sad waste of a spirit of adventure which God gave to us so we could hazard our lives for the gospel… May God comfort their families during this time.

    Well written. Good thoughts.

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