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"No one has the right to an activity that can cause so much suffering and pain to others just so they can do something fun."

Those are the words of Karl Purnell who lost his 28 year-old son Chris to an avalanche when Chris was ice-climbing in Canada. You can hear and maybe even feel the anguish of a father at the loss of his son.

Chris Purnell has been described as "an obsessive climber," and his father Karl became "obsessed with finding out just who Chris was, to know his secrets and why he chose to climb." The 65-year-old writer, playwright and former journalist developed his own climbing skills and visited some of his son’s favorite places -- Yosemite, the French Alps, and finally the Himalayas.

[ book reviews, A Mountain Too Far]

75 percent of all mountain climbers are injured during climbing, and 20 percent of American climbers end up in a hospital. Karl Purnell was enjoying a rainy New Year’s Day in his study in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania when he received a phone call from his ex-wife informing him of Chris’ tragic death. It was in his quest to understand his son that Karl discovered the "awesome and terrible beauty of mountains" (New Horizon Press).

(From a sermon by Anthony Seel, "Listen to Him" 2/24/2009)

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