In January 1998, while training for my climb on Mount Kilimanjaro, I was struck with the idea of Climbing For Christ. I was running. It was winter in Rochester, N.Y., cold and snowy. I wasn’t thinking any deep thoughts or even dreaming of the summit. Just running. That’s when the Spirit touched me with this notion. Where else would the idea of a Christian climbers’ organization come from than the very throne of God? He spoke, I listened. Well, I heard. From that point on, it was a case of disobedience. He kept asking me how His climbing organization was coming and I kept coming up with excuses for not making it happen. The truth be told, I had no idea how to make it happen – or for what purpose. But as I my spiritual walk has continued to mature and I have climbed in His direction, I have realized it’s not up to me. He is the Guide; I am only His assistant. You, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the party. Clip in to the rope. Climb on.
Climbing For Christ founder and president Gary Fallesen at Base Camp on Aconcagua in Argentina, January 2001.
My name is Gary Fallesen. I am the founder and president of Climbing For Christ, Inc., the international mountain climbing ministry that goes where others will not or cannot to serve physical and spiritual needs.
When I became the outdoor writer at the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in 1996, I underwent a lifestyle change. I had been a spectating sports writer for nearly two decades, covering high school, college and professional sports from the sidelines as a beat writer and columnist. When I asked to take over the outdoors beat at the paper, I became a participant. I went on my first climbing trip – traveling with three Rochester-area mountaineers to Mount Rainier in Washington. I did not reach the summit – topping out at about 13,500 feet after enduring my first taste of altitude sickness – but I had the time of my life. My first question after that climb: What’s next? Around this same time I was becoming more active in ministry at my church, Hope Lutheran in the Rochester suburb of Greece. In 1996, I helped start a drama ministry that would become a vibrant part of the church’s growth. I have been blessed to serve Him in many ways. To me, this is the next step. Where you lead, Father, I will follow.
Climbing boldly in His direction.