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The Team

Dates: May and June 2005.

Members: Eric Alexander, Vail, CO; Andrew Councell, Asheville, NC; Derek Fullerton, Colorado Springs, CO; Steve Nutting, Lake City, CO; Krister Sorensen, Fort Collins, CO.

Purpose: Climbing mission to Denali (Mount McKinley) during which team members will witness and distribute Bibles and tracts. The five members are climbing with three different parties (Eric with his climbing partner; Derek and Steve in a group of seven, and Andrew and Krister together).


Friday, June 17, 2005 (9:03 p.m.)
From Dave and Mary Jo Nutting for Steve Nutting and the “Denali Dinosaurs”:

“To all of you who have been praying for the Denali Climbers:

“Steve called today around 5:30 p.m. (MDT). They are ALL SAFELY off the mountain and are now in Talkeetna – looking forward to a hot shower and some good rest.  Six of the seven climbers made it successfully to the SUMMIT (including Climbing For Christ members Steve Nutting and Derek Fullerton). We are sorry that Jonathan Hale was not able to go because of previous ankle injuries, but glad for his wisdom in staying within his limits and for all that God taught him during his time on the mountain. Cindy Jones recovered sufficiently after resting a few days at 14,000 feet and she was able to catch up later with the group at 17,000 feet and then continue to the summit. PRAISE GOD! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR PRAYERS!

“I'm sure all the climbers will all have lots of stories to tell, but for now we are just celebrating the safe and successful climb – no injuries, no frostbite.  Praise God again!  We are very grateful for the Lord's protection and direction in giving Jim Hale wisdom and patience to lead the group well as they waited out many days of extremely cold (down to minus-40), windy, and stormy weather until it was safe to climb.

“Thanks again for all your prayers. God has abundantly answered.”

We have also received news from Andrew Councell that he and Krister Sorensen summitted. “We are back, we are safe, we did summit,” Andrew reported. They also had to leave the intended West Rib route (like Eric Alexander) and go up the West Buttress.

All five Climbing For Christ members participating in Mission: Denali stood on the rooftop of North America. Praise God for those blessings. 

Thursday, June 16, 2005 (5:57 p.m.)
From Mary Jo and Dave Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:

“We heard from Roni Hale today about 2:30 p.m. Her contact in Alaska has found out that our son Steve and the rest of the team are attempting the McKinley (Denali) summit today. Evidently, they have been dug in at the 17,000-foot level with storms and high winds for the past several days. Today is clear and it is expected that they will be able to climb to the top yet today (along with about 100 others who have been waiting and stacking up).

“We'll let you know more later. Keep praying!”

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 (3:01 p.m.)

On June 5, Climbing For Christ member Eric Alexander summitted Denali with his climbing partner. He called it “a beautiful gift from God.” Here are some of his comments from his home in Vail, Colo.:

“After 11 days on the mountain, mostly in snow, He gave us a sunny window on top and a safe descent. With so much to do every day and so many people on the mountain, it is hard to say what kind of an impact we had for the Lord. Trying to be a light as we climbed, especially as fights would break out as people waited in line for the fixed lines, was perhaps the best we could do. Sometimes we just opted not to use the lines and move on. We backed off the Rib route since conditions were running water, rock fall, and avalanches. I found some of the better opportunities to share the Lord were off the mountain as we traveled around sightseeing.”

We give thanks for Eric's safe and successful ascent. To read more about Eric and his climb on Everest with the blind Erik Weihenmayer CLICK HERE.

Friday, June 10, 2005 (10:30 p.m. MDT)
From Mary Jo Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:

“I just got word from Roni Hale (Jim's wife) with the latest news. Cindy Jones was able to get through to her by satellite phone (from the mountain). The group spent three days at the 14,000-foot level. Jim, Michael, Steve, Derek and Missy are now heading for the 17,000-foot camp, and from there, hopefully to the summit if all goes well. Cindy and Jonathan had health issues and were not able to go on – Cindy started up but had to go back due to congestion in her lungs and Jonathan was having trouble with an ankle due to a previous surgery. The weather was cloudy, but not windy when Cindy called, which is good, considering the exposure the climbers will be traveling through. Please pray for healing for Jonathan's ankle and clearing of Cindy's lungs. Also keep praying for favorable weather, wisdom, strength, health, and a real sense of God's presence for the rest of the team as they 'go higher.'”

Friday, June 10, 2005 (10:20 a.m.)
From Mary Jo Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:

“Roni Hale (the wife of Jim Hale, leader of the party that included Climbing For Christ members Steve Nutting and Derek Fullerton) got word last night that as far as her source can tell, the team is still at the 14,000-foot camp, waiting for the weather to change so they can continue the climb. We have not received any direct communication from the team. Please pray that they will have the patience to wait for safe-climbing weather, and that during the time there they will have good fellowship among themselves and boldness to witness as opportunities arise.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 (2:28 p.m.)
From Mary Jo Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:

“We have received news that the Denali climbers (Jim, Jonathan and Michael Hale; Missy Lee and Cindy Jones; and Climbing For Christ members Derek Fullerton and Steve Nutting) have reached at least the 14,000-foot camp. We are assuming that they are probably higher than that now, but have not had any direct communication from them so it's hard to know. Major prayer needs now are for favorable weather and good adjustment to the altitude. Also keep praying for safety (from avalanches, falls and other dangers), health, individual growth in the Lord, good fellowship among team members, opportunities to witness to others, and just plain fun and a great time! I will pass on more news as we receive it.”

Sunday, May 29, 2005 (9:27 p.m.)
From Mary Jo Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:
(Mary Jo's son, Steve, is on the Mission: Denali team.)

“I got word from Jim Hale's wife, Roni, that Jim and two other members of the team were not able to get to Base Camp Thursday because of weather. They made it out Friday, though, so they should be on their way up the mountain by now.”

Friday, May 27, 2005 (1:49 p.m.)
From Mary Jo Nutting of Grand Junction, Colo.:
(Mary Jo's son, Steve, is on the Mission: Denali team.)

“Steve and the Hales (Jim, Jonathan, Michael) were delayed getting out of Grand Junction, Colo., on Monday due to bad thunderstorms in Denver. By the time they were able to get to Denver, their flight to Anchorage had already left, so they had to stay over in Denver. They finally managed to get re-booked and arrived in Anchorage around midnight Tuesday. They got a few hours sleep in a friend's garage and then spent a busy day Wednesday packing and getting organized. Thursday, they were able to get airlifted pretty much on schedule
to Base Camp on Denali (I think around the 7,000-foot level). They are planning to spend one day at Base Camp before starting up the mountain. They plan to take it slow to avoid altitude problems, so they anticipate getting to the 14,000-foot camp in 8-to-9 days. I understand they can get cell-phone reception above 14,000 feet, but not below, so we don't expect to hear from them at least until they get there. If they make the summit, they should be able to call from there, too – if weather permits and their batteries hold out. (Amazing, isn't it? Cell phones sure have changed things.)

“I talked with Steve as he was waiting for his turn for the airlift. He was excited to finally be on his way after all the work and preparations.

“Keep praying for the whole team: safety, health, wisdom, favorable weather, good team work, opportunities to witness to other climbers, and growth in the Lord for each team member.”

There are seven team members on this climb:

  • Jim Hale (pastor from Grand Junction and leader of the climb);
  • Cindy Jones (from Alaska; assistant leader);
  • Jonathan and Michael Hale (Jim's sons, both from Grand Junction);
  • Missy Lee (Jim's niece; from Grand Junction);
  • Steve Nutting (on staff at Camp Redcloud);
  • Derek Fullerton (pastor, Colorado Springs; formerly on staff at Camp Redcloud).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 (3:38 p.m.)
From Derek Fullerton of Colorado Springs, Colo:

The rest of Derek's team arrived in Anchorage at 1 a.m. “That's 3 a.m. Colorado time,” Derek reports. “I was asleep. I was exhausted. I'd packed 24 days of food for the seven of us.

“We're going to Talkeetna tonight. We'll be flying onto the glacier tomorrow if all goes well.

“I spoke with Eric Alexander and hope to see him today at REI or tonight in Talkeetna.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 (1:12 p.m.)
From Derek Fullerton of Colorado Springs, Colo.:

“I arrived in Anchorage this morning and got to the home we're staying at and to bed about 3:00 a.m. Thankfully all of the gear is here with me, but the five of them from Grand Junction won't get here until 1:00 a.m. tonight/tomorrow. The thunderstorms/tornado watch delayed their flight to Denver.

“The forecast is clouds with rain in the lower elevations for the rest of the week.

“Tentatively we're going to fly onto the mountain Thursday, but that could be delayed, as there are other teams waiting now to get there.

“Please pray that our steps would be orchestrated from the LORD – as apparently it's more icy up high on Denali than 'normal.'

“JESUS RULES – Revelation 1:5.”

Monday, May 23, 2005 (1:23 a.m.)
Andrew Councell of Asheville, N.C.:

“Hello all. To each of you special people I bid adieu for a time as we are leaving to fly onto the Kahiltna glacier tomorrow to begin our feeble assault on Denali. I am excited, though somewhat depressed by the size of the mound of our gear laying in our room. Krister and I are mentally prepared otherwise.”

Thursday, May 12, 2005
From Eric Alexander of Vail, Colo.:

“I get to Anchorage the 24th of May and will head to Talkeetna the next afternoon. I will attempt the West Rib of Denali with a buddy. I am using my climb as a 'prayerathon' or 'prayer-raiser' for my church. People will commit to certain ministries, needs, and desires of the church during this time on the mountain.”

Feb 24, 2005
From Steve Nutting of Lake City, Colo.:

“For some time I’ve been planning to attempt the West Buttress route this summer. Our team leader, Jim Hale, was a guide on Denali back in the 70’s before becoming a pastor. He was the pastor of a church in Talkeetna for several years, and is now pastoring my parent’s church in Grand Junction, Colo. We have a team of six who are planning to climb and we are planning to arrive in Anchorage on May 23. I expect that we will be trying to fly to Base Camp within a couple days of our arrival in AK.”

View from Talkeetna

The view from the river in Talkeetna of the Big Three of the Alaska Range – left to right, 17,400-foot Foraker, 14,573-foot Hunter and 20,320-foot Denali. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

The Word

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
– Proverbs 16:9


The first ascent of Denali was made by a man of God. Read the story HERE.

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