Oh, the places you’ll GO!
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Tired of dealing with the egos and attitudes of professional and major college athletes, I stepped away from being a sportswriter and into a position as the outdoor writer at the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in 1996. One of the first people I called was my friend Kevin Flynn, a mountaineer who I played golf with and whose climbing stories I’d previously written.
I wanted to climb with him and figure out why he loved it so much. After all, he nearly froze to death on 20,310-foot (6,190-meter) Denali and he found a dead body on 22,837-foot (6,960-meter) Aconcagua. “You do this for fun?!” I wondered.
He told me he would take me climbing. We planned on going to New York’s 4,000-to-5,000-foot-tall Adirondack Mountains in August 1996. But then, over the Fourth of July weekend, he called with a change in plans. He and his climbing partners were doing 14,411-foot (4,392-meter) Mount Rainer in Washington state – and I was invited.
Knowing nothing about mountains, I accepted.
Kevin and his climbing partners took me shopping for gear. I did the physical training. On Aug. 22, we flew to Seattle. On Aug. 23, we hiked up to Base Camp at 10,000 feet. On Aug. 24, they taught me glacier travel and crevasse rescue, and shortly after midnight on Aug. 25 we set out for the summit.
I suffered altitude sickness – desiring to jump into a crevasse after a few hours. It was a long, painful day. And I loved every minute of it.
Aug. 25, 1996 was the start of my climbing career. Twenty-five years later, I will celebrate where climbing has taken me with my annual CLIMBATHON to raise funds for future mission trips with Climbing For Christ.
This time, I will be climbing in the Adirondacks – mountains I have frequented countless times to train for the places I would GO. I ask if you would consider giving financially to this CLIMBATHON to honor how God has moved in my life to take me from Super Bowls, NCAA basketball tournaments, and major golf championships to writing about and participating in outdoor recreation to delivering the Good News of Jesus Christ.
You see, the morning after we descended off Rainier, while eating breakfast in Seattle, I asked Kevin: “What are we going to climb next?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, “what about Kilimanjaro?”
Eighteen months later, in February 1998, Kevin and I climbed to Africa’s rooftop. Kevin was on his way to climbing the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on every continent) and along the way he and I would write a book about Everest. But before we left for Kilimanjaro, God put a new calling on my life: birthing what would be Climbing For Christ.
Climbing For Christ was incorporated in 2004, started doing missions in 2005, and I left the newspaper at the end of 2006. Our team in Turkey this month is carrying out our 111th Evangelic Expedition. We have indigenous Kingdom workers and ministry partners serving in 10 countries. We GO where others cannot or will not, make disciples who make disciples, plant churches and build houses of worship, and provide education, medicine, and relief from catastrophic occurrences such as COVID-19.
I never could have imagined on Aug. 25, 1996, what God had planned for me and the seed He planted that would grow into Climbing For Christ today. Join me in celebrating what He has done.
Please support this CLIMBATHON by sending a check to Climbing For Christ, c/o CLIMBATHON, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616. Or CLICK HERE and give online through PayPal. In Canada, send cheques payable to The Great Commission Foundation, and on the memo line add Climbing For Christ CANADA c/o CLIMBATHON. Mail your support to: The Great Commission Foundation, P.O. Box 14006, Abbotsford, BC V2T 0B4. Or CLICK HERE to give online.