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Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  154 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
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 bel
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 13th 2008 by Thomas Nelson (first published November 11th 2008)
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Kris Madaus
Feb 22, 2010 rated it did not like it

I had followed the Mt. Hood tragedy when it happened, but I never really found out what really happened. Since I love reading climbing books (and I love actually climbing), I had high hopes that I would find out "The Untold Story of the Mt. Hood Tragedy". I was certainly wrong. I expect most climbers would agree.

First of all, I rarely rate a book less than 3 out of 5. I am not trying to be judgmental or insensitive. The back cover of this book simply didn't match the contents or I never would ha

Dec 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
A very nice girl bought me this book for Christmas. She knew that i enjoyed outdoor adventure stories such as "Into Thin Air" and thought I would like this book. Unfortunately, this book isn't really about mountain climbing, it is about the wife of a climber who sadly died on Mt. Hood in Oregon. The loss of Mrs. James husband is a tragedy and I do feel badly for her and her family. I strictly write my reviews for me, so that I can remember what thoughts my reading inspired, so even though I feel ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Triumph, Tragedy, and Faith

In December of 2006, three friends vanished when a snowstorm struck while they were climbing Mount Hood. For days the families stood vigil and prayed for their survival and rescue. One of the climbers, Kelly James, had been injured and was alone in a snow cave near the summit. He was able to have one final phone call with his wife and family before his phone went silent. Knowing something of his position, rescue worked to reach him. Before they could find him, Kelly di
Monica Willyard
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story of love, laughter, Hope, tragedy, and peace. This family’s journey wasn’t what they expected, and God met them at the point of every need. This story reinforces my belief that while we don’t understand God‘s timing on things, he is always present with us, always loving us, and always providing for us in the best way according to his plan. Now if I could just understand that plan…
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was ok


How one woman held on to her faith after her husband's tragic death

In "Holding Fast for Purpose," Karen James tells the story of losing her man to a mountain. Kelly James was a man's man; a follower of Jesus; a lover of life; a godly dad and hopeless romantic. He was a 25-year veteran mountaineer who had straddled the world's most famous summits. But the final peak swallowed him whole and refused to give him back.

In her book, Karen shares her desperation as a rescue operation is mounted
Elizabeth A.
May 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Though their time together didn’t start until somewhat later in life and was cut tragically short, it is clear that Karen and Kelly James were soul-mates who were simply meant to be together. Holding Fast is the story of Karen’s and Kelly’s lives together, culminating with the recounting of the tragic climbing accident on Mount Hood that took the lives of Kelly and his two climbing partners. Though the outcome of the true life events that are the subject of this book are known going in, that in ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Since I live in Colorado, I often hear of tragic stories around climbing expeditions but I've never heard one that impacted my life as greatly as this one. Back in 2006, Kelly James and two of his close climbing buddies attempted to summit Mount Hood during one of the worst storms of the winter season. Karen James, Kelly's wife, was left waiting to hear back from her husband to contact her about their progress but little did she know that her last phone call from him as he was in a snow cave wou ...more
James E. Robinson, III
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: i received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.

This book was a surprise. When the preface tells you how the story ends (yes, i know the title has tragedy in it, but i had not actually heard of the story -- i generally don't watch the news), it leaves you wondering how the rest of the story could be engaging. Wow, was i wrong.

Karen James walks you thru the period before the tragedy and after in a manner that is interesting and even suspenseful. As the characte
Michael Brown
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a GREAT book. I don't remember hearing about the Mount Hood Tragedy. And to tell the truth I was skeptical if I would even like reading this book. The question to was -- would it be to emotional and uninteresting and such.

But, when I started reading this book I got hooked really quick. Karen James is a phenomenal writer. While reading this book you know what the end result of the mountain climbing of Kelly, Brian, and Nikko but not all the background or who they were. Through Karen's bo
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aunt Vicky
Recommended to Kasey by: Today Show (I think)
I saw an interview with the author on line and was really touched by how collected she was. You could tell she truly loved her husband and the friends involved in the tragedy, and since I see Mt. Hood almost everyday I wanted to hear the entire story. I remember the newstory during the search and as the author noted it really seemed like the entire state was pulling for a Christmas miracle.
I think it took me a day and a half to read the book, with Gord & Ash giggling at my river of tears. Y
Lauralee Bliss
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
It is hard to imagine the awful circumstances Karen James was forced to endure at the loss of her husband in a climbing accident on Mt Hood,but she has done well portraying it in this book. I liked very much how she wrote about the incident. The first part deals with the unending rescue and painful wait. The second part is the loss itself. And lastly, she paints a picture of what she believes happened during Kelly's days on the mountain. But what I found inspiring was her spiritual insights. It' ...more
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I borrowed this book from a friend after watching Karen speak at a conference in Seattle. I read it in one setting. She had me in tears during her talk about her journey during and after that tragedy on Mt. Hood. I remember that well, checking several times during the day for updates on the missing climbers. It is clear that Kelly and Karen were soulmates, such a moving story, so much love. I was mostly intrigued by Kelly's love for mountain climbing, made me smile when I read one part i ...more
Katypie Crowe
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ehhhh. It was OK. Author is a PR specialist, and so can put a sentence together, but not well enough to hold my interest for an entire book. Much of it read like journal entries. The subject is different--what is the story of a mountain tragedy when the heroes don't live to tell the tale? The thing is, lots of stories of grief are out there, and are much more provocative, and better written--see Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. The special hook of this one is that it's a mountain story, b ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Karen James' husband Kelly died on Mt. Hood several years ago when he & his climbing companions were caught in the storm of the decade. It was spiritually uplifting to me to read Karen's honest account of her pain while still maintaining a strong faith in God and His plans for her life. Karen's skills as a former journalist make this a very well written book and it was interesting to see how she felt being on "the other side" of a media firestorm while reporters literally camped out near Tim ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Susan by: Scribd
The parts of the book about the actual rescue attempt were interesting, but most of the book was about the love story between Karen James and her husband Kelly who was lost on Mount Hood a few years ago. It seemed more a christian inspiration book than a book about climbing. Since Karen was not on the climb, everything in the book about the climb is reconstructed from what the rescuers on the mountain found. It's a borrow, not buy book for me. I suspect I would have liked it more if I were still ...more
Lisa Paul
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a heart felt story written by Karen James that puts you right there with her and the family through the devastation that they have to encounter. when reading this book I felt as if I was there holding her hands. I had the opportunity to see and hear Karen speak at the Women of Faith Conference this year and it was truly a blessing. Get this book and hear the story of the love of her husband and family.
Josh L
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
You can find my full review at Quieted Waters.

Holding Fast is the true story of a wife’s anxiety, agony, and faith as her husband was stranded and eventually killed in a mountain climbing accident on Mt. Hood. A trip, planned to last 2 days, turned into days of anxious trepidation for the family of Kelly James as he did not come down from the mountain.

Laura Holland
Some people are truly extreme sports people, and Kelly James was one of them. Interesting to hear the story of the 3 hikers who died on Mt. Hood in December of 2006 from the family perspective after watching and reading the news on it for weeks. I thought there was a lot of repetition in Karen James's writing, but I could identify with the power of God in bringing you through grief.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure-nature
I remember when this was in the news in Dec 2006 - the wife of one of three climbers who attempted a summit of Mt Hood tells the story of their life, their love, their family, and the rescue attempts, and how her faith gave her strength through the ordeal. Rescue attempts were hampered for several days due to blizzard conditions.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I hoped for more information about the actual search and the technical aspects thereof. I wasn't as interested in their personal relationship, which seemed to take up much of the book. Also, I understand that they are Christians but she should have either printed a word or chosen not to use it (D____ "damn"). Seemed like it was written for children in some cases.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly what I was hoping for. If you're curious as to what the spouse of a diseased mountain climber goes through this would interest you.

Very sad read. I was looking for something a bit more exciting. Guess that'll teach me not to look more closely at what I"m checking out at the library.
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I attended the Women of Faith Conference this year in southern California, Karen James was one of the speakers. A friend was moved by her story and bought the book. Holding Fast tells what things were like between Karen and her husband, moutain climber Kelly James, What happended on Mount Hood and how she dealt with the tragedy.
Dan Dabal
I am into stories of endurance and survival, this is more about the human spirit , love of family and god.
Im not very spiritual but none the less see the value faith has for some. the book was good but very depressing in its body.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After a vacation watching rock climbers at Yosemite, I began to wonder, what drives these people to climb mountains. Holding Fast is not only about climbing mountains but climbing in the winter in the ice and wind. Set at Mount Hood, Oregon tragedy struck and Three good men were lost.

Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This quick easy read is not a 'put it down and finish it later' type. The way the book is written, you are gripped by the tragedy, the love, the spirituality, and the full circle of life without even knowing it. Just reading it strengthens your faith that we are not alone, ever, if we have faith.
Mar 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Holding fast is the story of Karen James, not Kelly James. Even so, it was an interesting read. Having experienced loss in my family, I could empathize with her deeply and found it hard to read without tears. If you do not have faith, you will not get this book.
Helen Lind
Jan 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
I gave up on this about a third of the way through. Not too interesting, just the wife's speculations on what she thinks happened.
Olivia Kuhns
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. Once you start reading this, its nearly impossible to put down!
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Erin by: Stephanie Soliz
While it's an interesting look not only at the tragedy itself and how one woman/family dealt with it, I was just so heartbroken for the family's misguided faith that it wasn't a great read for me.
Jun 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
Mostly focuses on the wife's thoughts on what happened on Mount Hood and how her faith got her through the ordeal.
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