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The 700 Club

Pursuing Love, Faith, and Mount Everest for a Greater Purpose

Authors, "A Higher Calling" (2020)


Captain, U.S.Army

Commander of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

West Point graduate

U.S. Airborne Ranger


Founder, Earls Family Foundation

Host, Earls Familiy Vlogs

Florida State University graduate

Two sons

Why would a newly-married, blissfully-happy young Army officer with quite a bright future risk it all to climb the world’s tallest – and most treacherous -- mountain?  Harold Earls got the idea during his senior year at West Point to lead the first active-duty team, and combat-wounded veteran to the summit of Mt. Everest.  He explains his passion for the mission stemmed from wanting to strengthen his weak areas in order to “see what he’s was made of.”  And then there was another reason:  He felt called by God to do it.  A mentor at West Point urged Harold to make the mission about a cause outside himself.  He decided that would be to increase awareness of soldier PTSD and suicide.  Rachel concedes that she would have given anything for her husband of ten months not to make the exceedingly dangerous climb.  If he didn’t survive, it would dash her own dearest dream of having a family and long life with Harold.  Still, she chose to give her full support and enthusiasm to her life partner.  

Though Harold had the rigorous physical, mental, strategic, and military training that comes with attending a military academy, he was an inexperienced climber, and physical fitness was not his strong suit.  Despite those challenges, and the long list of naysayers who told him that climbing Everest was too dangerous, too expensive, and not where his focus needed to be, Harold put together a seasoned team of climbers, and founded U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX).  After nearly two years of planning, training, and fund-raising, the team set off for the monster mountain on the border of China and Nepal.  Like many climbers, they hired a Sherpa guide (Sherpas are an ethnic group native to the Himalayans) to guide them through the six-week trip up and down Everest.

While they made it to the first “base camp” without incident, the rest of the upward climb became increasingly more dangerous.  The wind and cold were unbelievable, Harold says, and the air became thinner the higher they went.  The doctor on the team developed High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, and needed days to recover, while a kind man on another team died of cardiac exhaustion. They climbed for several weeks, with many other challenges and mishaps, until it was time for the three-day ascent through what’s termed the “death zone” before summiting the mountain.  That’s when Harold got terrible diarrhea and was too weak to continue.  When he woke feeling better the next day, and with “Summit Fever” coursing through his veins, he decided to continue.   At sunrise on May 24, 2016, Harold stood where he’d dreamt of standing for two years: the highest place on earth, the summit of Mt. Everest.  “The view is indescribable … but it feels sort of anticlimactic,” he admits.  And of course, it was freezing cold.  Harold couldn’t wait to get off the mountain, but ahead of him was a long, arduous descent.  “Ninety-five percent of deaths and accidents on Everest occur not in going up the mountain but in coming down,” he explains.  On their descent, Harold and his guide saw the dead bodies of many such climbers, faced snow blindness and frostbite, and experienced a short fall that easily could have resulted in their deaths, as well as complete physical and mental exhaustion. 

Rachel made the most of the two months that Harold was gone, travelling extensively to keep her mind occupied.  She was able to talk to Harold occasionally, and receive texts, but her heart ached for his safe return.  Those months challenged and deepened her faith.  Rachel learned at the beginning of this journey that she couldn’t simply ask God to bring Harold safely home, but also that He would help her stay close to Him throughout the uncertainty, and strengthen her if her worst fears were realized.  She grew greatly in her trust in God, learning to place Harold and herself in the Lord’s able, loving hands.  There were many days of tears, wondering if Harold was okay, and waiting to hear that he’d made it to the next goal.  His return in early June was wonderful beyond words.       

     The Earls both say they learned a lot through their incredible experience.  Some of those lessons are:
•    Communication can mean life or death – whether on a mountain, or in a relationship.
•    Both spouses’ dreams matter.
•    It’s vital to recognize one another’s sacrifices.
•    God will provide, even when the outcome is not what you hoped for.
•    Life is a gift, to be appreciated every single day.
•    Never settle in life – go for your dreams!    


Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Capt. Harold & Rachel Earls
Show Guest Bio: 
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