Climbing For Christ's first chapter form

Gary Fallesen

Climbing For Christ's first chapter form

The first chapter of Climbing For Christ – the Adirondack Mountains Chapter – was formed in Long Lake, N.Y., on July 26, 2003. Eleven men, women, and children hiked nearby Blue Mountain in the afternoon, a two-mile climb ascending 1,550 vertical feet to an elevation of 3,759 feet and then a few steps higher up an old fire tower (photo below). Twenty-one people attended the inaugural meeting that evening at the Long Lake Town Hall. The Esper family – Cheryl, Chip, and their five sons – hosted the event. The Espers are the chapter's coordinators.

Climbing For Christ president Gary Fallesen hiked with and spoke to the group, sharing how God put the idea for this organization on his heart. “I couldn't figure out how to start a Christian climbers' organization,” confessed Fallesen, who was accompanied by his wife, Elaine, and two children, Jesse and Hayley. “In fact, even today, with Climbing For Christ started – and growing – I don't know how to do it."

“But you know what? I don't have to know how to do it. He'll take care of that if I let Him use me.

“The Adirondack Mountains Chapter is starting here, and with their (the Espers') leadership and His direction we will grow the seeds being planted.”

The Espers will organize hikes and programs in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. It is hoped that other faithful climbers will step forward to lead a local chapter in their area.

“I have been thinking of different ways to spread the word about the organization,” Cheryl Esper said. “Certainly, when our family hits the trails, other hikers always stop us to inquire what motivates our young children to climb, how we manage to physically manage all our gear, etc. So what an opportunity we have just because our children are small, and Mom is nursing and hiking at the same time!”

Cheryl and Chip Esper's children range from college age to toddler. Johnathan, the oldest (a student at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.), became the youngest Winter 46er (someone who has climbed each of the 46 4,000-foot peaks in the Adirondacks) at the age of 10. But his twin brothers, Josiah and Brecken, who made any-season ascents of all 46 by the time they were 5, broke the winter record when they were 7.

The Espers have been supporters of Climbing For Christ since finding out about it in 2001, when they first met Fallesen on an Adirondack trail. “Thanks for your vision and courage to do what the Lord is leading you to do,” Cheryl told Gary. “Thanks also for noticing the twins on their Table Top climb. We might not have met you otherwise. But the Lord had it planned, didn't He?”
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