Living on an island in Puget Sound, I am surrounded by mountains. I remember listening to the daily reports, not quite two years ago, of the rescue efforts to find three men on Mount Hood. I though at the time, “What would make one want to climb a mountain in the midst of winter?”
Karen James answered that question in Holding Fast, the story of her husband Kelly – one of those three stranded on Mount Hood. Through pictures recovered from her husband’s camera, Karen was able to reconstruct what happened on that fatal climb. The men were avid ice climbers and had planned the climb for some time. After they began their ascent, they were aware of the impending bad weather and changed their plans to shorten their time on the mountain. It seems Kelly must have fallen and was injured. An ice cave was dug out for him while the others tried to go for help. As the storm of the decade settled in, with hurricane force winds near the peak, rescue attempts were thwarted. Only Kelly’s body was eventually found. It is thought the others were swept off the mountain.
Kelly’s death was a very public event and Karen shares the struggles she had. Yet her faith in God was sure as was the help and support of her friends.
For Kelly, climbing was like breathing – he had to do it. Karen surmises that all of this happened to show that Christianity is for adventurous and daring men. When people ask her, “Where was God?” she answers, “In the ice cave with Kelly, holding him.”
Holding Fast is a refreshingly honest look at how Christians deal with tragedy. It is an amazing story of God’s comfort and support in a time of great distress.