Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy [NOOK Book]


A journey of adventure, tragedy, love, and loss on the summit of Mt. Hood.

In December 2006, millions of people across the world prayed and waited in anguish to learn the fate of 3 climbers trapped on Mt. Hood. The worst storm in the last decade was pounding the mountain with hurricane-force winds that would not permit the army of rescue workers to do their work. No one below could forget the last phone call Kelly James placed to his wife, telling her that he was trapped in a ...

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Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy

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A journey of adventure, tragedy, love, and loss on the summit of Mt. Hood.

In December 2006, millions of people across the world prayed and waited in anguish to learn the fate of 3 climbers trapped on Mt. Hood. The worst storm in the last decade was pounding the mountain with hurricane-force winds that would not permit the army of rescue workers to do their work. No one below could forget the last phone call Kelly James placed to his wife, telling her that he was trapped in a snow cave just below the summit. What happened next would change the lives of everyone involved and deeply touch millions of people who desperately hoped to see a Christmas miracle.

For more than a week, the search dominated the news as family members huddled below, praying for the climbers' safe return. But the story did not end when Kelly James's body was airlifted off the mountain and the cameras stopped rolling. For Karen, the year after Kelly's death was spent searching for answers to what really happened on the mountain. In this journey of adventure, tragedy, love and loss, she reveals never-released information about the fateful climb and behind-the-scenes details of how the family coped with the shocking news.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781418573584
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/22/2010
  • Sold by: THOMAS NELSON
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Karen James is a former award-winning journalist who has reported at ABC, NBC, and CBS TV news affiliates across the country. In addition to working in communications at AARP for a number of years, she is an accomplished painter and is co-owner of the public relations consulting firm James Nuñez Group. Karen was married to Kelly James, one of the climbers who tragically died atop Mt. Hood in 2006. Today she shares her life with her four stepchildren and greatly enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 19, 2009

    A wife's story of grief, loss, and victory

    While this book is ostensibly the story of a woman who loses her husband in a freak accident on Mount Hood, it also offers readers a clear view of what it is like to love someone and lose them, and what the grief process can look at. Without Karen James' soul-journey, offered here in her own words, the book would have little appeal. With that journey, it becomes something precious, delicate, and very, very alive.<BR/><BR/>The story of Karen's husband, Kelly, and what happened to him and his climbing partners on Mount Hood in December 2006 is thrillingly told, but much of that thrill would be lost without the tale of Karen's emotional journey. While Karen's words aren't always expertly woven, her honesty gives readers a raw, brutal picture of what it feels like to have tragedy strike someone close, someone loved. She also offers insight into the days, weeks, and months after a tragedy, giving readers her own experience in hopes it will help them interpret, allow, or understand their own.<BR/><BR/>Karen James is a bold, beautiful soul who shares the greatest tragedy of her life so that others may grow. I don't know of many actions more selfless than that.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2008

    Great Read!

    Holding Fast by Karen James gives us a view into the aftermath of tragedy. I think we all remember the story on the news and in the papers about the three climbers lost on Mount Hood in Oregon in December 2006. But, like most news stories, it came and went. I know that I would have liked to know what happened to the family. I distinctly remember asking myself what the families of the climbers must be feeling. How are they? What are they doing? Are they Christians? How are they coping with this?<BR/><BR/>For the one climber found (Kelly James), this gives us a window into her reactions, feelings, grief, and how she and her family reacted to the tragedy. <BR/><BR/>The story starts with a great sense of adventure. We find out that Kelly is an avid, experienced, and daring climber. He had climbed Ranier, Denali, and Alpamayo among others. We also learn that he came from a family that was split apart by dashed hopes. It turns out that Kelly¿s dad is a star football player at the University of Houston, and is injured while trying out for the pros. The injury ends his hope of a football career. This turns out to ultimately lead to the wife leaving the husband with the children (4 boys). <BR/><BR/>The story continues when Kelly and Karen find each other. We find the depth of their love for each other, as well as the love they have for God. There is a wonderful thread of God woven throughout this entire story. We find that not only did Kelly have an avid interest in climbing, but that he also had an avid interest in God, and in climbing he felt closer to God.<BR/><BR/>As was mentioned, Kelly died on Mount Hood in a snow cave 300 feet from the peak. The other two climbers, also Christians, have never been found. The speculation is that they fell down a crevasse after they left Kelly in the snow cave to seek rescue (Kelly was injured in a fall on an ice climb).<BR/><BR/>I think the major ¿story behind the story¿ was what Karen spent the larger portion of the book on: her dealing and coping with this tragic loss. Here asking the ¿Why¿ of God was what I believe all folks would ask in this case. By telling us the whole story of her life with Kelly, the love that they shared with each other, the love they shared with their family, and the love they shared with God, Karen gives us a glimpse of how a Christian can survive tragedy, and how to grow in the Lord.<BR/><BR/>This was a wonderful book, quite an easy read, and flowed very well. I would recommend it to anyone, believer or not.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    A Great Read

    I¿m not a Christian reader, but if I saw this book at the library, I probably would have picked it up. It¿s about the rescue effort that was mounted to search for mountain climber Kelly James and his two buddies. They decided to do an ice climb on Mount Hood in Oregon and got caught in a killer storm that delayed rescue attempts. The story is told from his wife Karen¿s perspective¿the person on the other end of the mountain waiting for news. Kelly was eventually found dead in a snow cave, but the two people who were with him were never found. The book is illustrated with many black and white photos throughout, plus a full color section in the middle. There¿s also a map showing Mount Hood and the climbers¿ route.<BR/><BR/>I thought the book started out a little slow. The first forty or so pages deal more with backstory about how Karen and Kelly met, and Kelly¿s life growing up. Then we hit part two, and the story went into high gear as the crisis erupted. From there, it became a riveting tale as everyone mobilized to try to rescue the three missing men.; It was amazing to read how people pulled together to help these three people, even at great risk to themselves. <BR/><BR/>I¿m not a mountain climber, and my only experience with mountains going to the tourist area on Mount Ranier. But when it came to mountain climbing details in this book, Ms. James made them understandable to a broad audience and didn¿t use a lot of jargon.<BR/><BR/>My only real complaint about the book is that in the aftermath of the rescue, it veered from telling a good story about these experiences to just talking about the experiences. For me, this caused a book which could have ended with a ¿Wow!¿ to end with an ¿Okay.¿<BR/><BR/>Holding Fast is both a story of tragedy and hope and of the good people can do.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    It's not about the climb

    Like Lance armstrongs first book (not about the bike), this book is of interest to climbers but the story is about relationships, love, family and finding strength to perservere. I am more into climbing books than inspirational or faith books but this one is a stellar book. Climbers will like it but so woudl many who simply like a good story about love, faith and relationships with adventure mixed in. Also for those who follwed the news story and want to hear...the rest of the story. Thank you Karen for sharing the difficult story.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A book with take home value

    I look for the relationship angle in any book I read. This was an inspirational read. A book with take home value.<BR/><BR/>Kelly was Karen's prince charming, and he lead her to God by the sheer strength of his own faith. Karen wanted what Kelly had. He had mended her broken dreams, and she wanted to live the rest of her life with him.<BR/><BR/>I read the book and learned how much goes into planning a mountain climb. I gained a little more insite on how climbing can get into a man's blood. Sort of like my own husbands love of flying a small plane. It becomes part of who the man is and a wise woman knows this. The thing that helped Kelly refuse to give up the search was her knowledge of her man. How careful he was. His keen planning ability. Knowing that he was not reckless. <BR/><BR/>As I took the journey with her I could relate to her fears, her hopes, her despair. Her growing friendship with two other women whose husbands were also missing on that mountain ~~ the ups and downs of the search. I could not put the book down.

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  • Posted January 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Story

    It would only be a short article if she left out all the references to god and prayer and the like, but that is what she is about, I had to skip past all of that stuff to get to the actual story.

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  • Posted December 5, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    "Holding Fast"

    ¿Holding Fast¿, the story of the Mount Hood tragedy that took place in December of 2006 is written by Karen James, the wife of one of the climbers lost in this tragedy. I remember hearing this story on the news when three climbers were lost on Mount Hood when the storm of the decade blew through. The book reveals the tremendous ordeal, heartbreak and eventually the ultimate triumph Karen experienced from this life changing tragedy.<BR/><BR/>On December 6 Kelly James kissed his wife and family goodbye and headed from Dallas to Oregon. An experienced and seasoned climber he and two other climbers were headed for the summit of Mount Hood. December 10, Kelly received the phone call that changed her life. The climbers had missed their pickup time at the base of the mountain and a search party was about to be launched to look for the climbers. Several attempts by Karen to reach Kelly on his cell phone failed, but later that day they received a phone call from him as he described his location. He was stranded in a snow cave below the summit of the mountain. As the search party attempted to look for the climbers the storm ravaged Mount Hood with snow and wind that constantly caused the search and rescue efforts to be postposed. December 17 the search and rescue team found Kelly¿s body in a snow cave three feet below the summit. The other two climbers were no where to be found. <BR/><BR/>The story that unfolds over the next seven days and the following year is a testimony to the strength of Karen¿s faith and her trust in God. At no time did her faith in God waver. She is a witness to all in what it means to put all your faith and trust in God and know that He is in control. Through what Karen describes as ¿blessings in sorrow¿, she discovers that God sometimes gives us tragedy in our lives to show us what His purpose may be for us. Instead of focusing on what she lost, she decided to focus on what she had and as she slowly put things together she discovered that ¿life is not a series of accidents strung together¿. <BR/><BR/>Karen James is an inspiration to all and I most certainly would recommend this book to anyone that has suffered a tragic loss in their life and is searching for the pieces.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Holding Fast

    Holding Fast tells the story of Kelly James from the perspective of his wife, Karen. In December 2006, three men meet in Oregon near Mount Hood. There plan was very simple- to climb the mountain. Believing they had prepared for everything, they set out on their climb. They were climbing Mount Hood to prepare them for climbing Mount Everest. Little did they realize what lay in store for them at the top of this viscious mountain.<BR/><BR/>Karen James leads the reader through the ups and downs that accompanied the rescue attempts. She expresses in great detail the hope and the anguish that she, her family and the families of the two other climbers faced. She reveals the minutest of feelings and thoughts as they rushed through horrendous ordeal.<BR/><BR/>Although you already know the outcome, you are right there with the author hoping beyond hope that a miracle will occur and the three men will be rescued. While the final result is less than hoped for (they don't survive the climb), the love that the author has for her husband comes alive on each and every page.<BR/><BR/>Pros: This is a story that will touch you deeply as it sheds light on the pain that is felt with the loss of a loved one.<BR/><BR/>Cons: For a "Christian" book, I found the somewhat liberal use of profanity to distasteful (even if it was bleeped out).

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  • Posted November 28, 2008


    This is a gripping tale of the triumph in the midst and over tragedy told by one who experienced the sustaining power of grace throughout.<BR/><BR/>It is the story of Karen James<BR/><BR/>As one reads, one begins to feel as if actually present, feeling the anxiety, anticipating the next call, grappling with issues of The Faith albeit in a relatively shallow manner.<BR/><BR/>The story has so many threads one may persue¿<BR/><BR/>One may revel in the excitement, spirit of daring and measured risk-taking of Kelly James, without such men and women would we have ventured to the Moon or across Australia¿s outback? Yet, there are three kids who will continue to venture into their lives without the presence of a Dad, not to neglect Karen herself!<BR/><BR/>As a believer, and one who glories in the wonder of the New Covenant, these are the very tensions I am persuaded designed by our Sovereign God to be wrestled with during our tenure.<BR/><BR/>By no means do I want to cast a shadow on Kelly¿s actions/passion; other than to note he is not an exemplar!<BR/><BR/>Karen¿s record is not meant to be a theological treatise. It is an anecdotal testimony of her perception of sustaining grace.<BR/><BR/>But, again, she is not an exemplar though, without a doubt to be commended for her fidelity during the trial. <BR/><BR/>At the same time, one is moved to thank God for the fellowship of the saints in her experience!<BR/><BR/>Being an ENTJ, I admit to using up a few tissues during the read. But, following every resort to tissues, I would have to put the book down and ask myself, aside from my physiological/subjective response, what of theological substance is being presented?<BR/><BR/>My answer: very little.<BR/><BR/>Do I, would I recommend the book? Certainly. Every believer¿s testimony has value and this is Karen¿s.<BR/><BR/>She is to be commended for sharing with us. My thanks to her.

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    Inspiring man, inspiring life

    If reading opens new worlds, I stepped into a brand new one this week when I read ¿Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy¿ by Karen James. Most of us remember the Mount Hood climbing accident just before Christmas in 2006. Three experienced mountain climbers were lost for over a week before the lifeless body of Kelly James, Karen James¿ husband, was found in a hand-dug snow cave on the side of the mountain. As a nation, we held our collective breath hoping for a Christmas miracle, a live rescue, or the rescue of Kelly¿s two missing climbing partners. We did not receive that Christmas miracle.<BR/><BR/>Karen James decided to write her account of the harrowing days of Kelly¿s climb, accident and death. In the process she has given us an inspiring glimpse of the faithfulness of God¿s care even in the darkest night. Each of the three climbers ¿ Kelly James, Brian Hall and Nikko Cooke ¿ had a deep personal faith in God, and it shines through each page of their story. Kelly was a man who lived his life in every sense of the word: full of adventure and risk, declaring the Glory of God on the high summits of the world.<BR/><BR/>The true story of the climbing tragedy was pieced together in the days and months following the tragic events on Mount Hood. Karen and Kelly¿s four children painstakingly gathered details together to understand how experienced climbers could find themselves injured and in a deathly situation on the side of Mount Hood. While not many of us will ever step foot on a mountain the way Kelly James did, his story is a testimony and a metaphor for conquering the mountains in our life. I was stuck like glue to this book for most of the weekend, and at the end of it I feel like I have lost a friend. But that friend holds the gift of hope in his hands, and holds it out shimmering to anyone who reads this book.<BR/><BR/>Kelly¿s faith will inspire others to reconnect with the God who made them. Can there be a higher purpose or a greater reward?

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    Posted November 15, 2008

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