Climbers ‘Go to Extremes’ to Fight Human Trafficking

Post a Comment » Written on September 17th, 2009     
Filed under: News
SEATTLE, WA (September 17, 2009) – Covenanter Kjel Larsen recently went to extremes to support the fight against human trafficking.

Larsen and friends from around the United States climbed the 14,410-foot summit of Mount Rainier to raise funds for International Justice Mission (IJM). The anti-trafficking organization is a partner with the Evangelical Covenant Church’s “Break the Chains” initiative.

The 10-member Climb for Captives team endured high winds, navigated glaciers, and braved precarious sections of the mountain while doing much of the climb in the dark on August 19. Approximately 50 percent of the teams that attempt to summit Rainier turn back due to difficult conditions, according to the team’s website. Click here to view a video of the expedition (Kjel is wearing an orange climbing helmet).

Climb for Captives hopes to raise $40,000. Some of this year’s team climbed in 2008 and collected more than $10,000 in their first fundraising effort. The team uses money from apparel sales to offset their costs, and all of the donated money is given to IJM, says Larsen, who joined the team this year

People pledged money in various ways, says Larsen. Some supporters gave a set donation, others based their contribution on how high the climbers advanced, and some gave according to the number of climbers who reached the summit.

Reaching the summit requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet across glaciers over a distance of eight or more miles, depending on the route.

As do other climbers, the team used Camp Muir at roughly 10,000 feet for their base camp. They began their final assault on the mountain at 1:10 a.m. – the second team to leave the camp.

As they made their way higher, an immense snow melt from a recent record-shattering heat wave complicated the climb. They finally reached the summit at 8:40 a.m.

They were greeted at the summit by 40 mph gusts of winds that blew needles of ice against any exposed skin. A friend of the team flew a plane overhead so that he could take pictures before they made their descent.

All members of the team reached the summit, but they still are pursuing their fundraising goal. According to the group’s website, they have collected roughly $16,000.

Larsen grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, where the mountains are arid, but says his family has a long history in the Pacific Northwest. He is the son of Evangelical Covenant Church missionaries Andrew and Carol Larsen.

Larsen currently works as a Spanish language medical interpreter at different hospitals in the Seattle area. He also works with service and mission teams throughout Latin America.

Many of the team members have encountered human trafficking as they traveled around the world, Larsen says. He learned about the industry while attending Missio Lux, a Covenant church plant in Sammamish, Washington. A study group began exploring the issue.

Earlier this year, India’s federal police announced that around 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution in India. Including women, the number rises to 2.3 million, according to IJM. India is a popular destination for sex tourists from Europe and the United States. For more information on human trafficking, click here.

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