Cumberland County man to climb Roundtop mountain for 37th year
A 62-year-old Cumberland County man will be climbing the Minuteman slope at Roundtop Mountain Resort on Saturday morning with more than 300 pounds on his shoulders — for the 37th year in a row.
But Steve Jones will climb the mountain as part of the Climb for the Kingdom, with all donations benefiting Covenant Road House Ministry Center in Harrisburg. Jones works security at Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill.
The climb: Jones starts at the bottom of the mountain and gradually adds more weight onto the bar on his shoulders as he ascends. He said he has about seven people climbing with him, helping to put more weight on his shoulders as he goes.
Jones said he will start with about 340 pounds on his shoulders and — by the time he reaches the top — he aims to carry about 500 pounds.
He said in years past he has carried more weight, but he said he didn't think putting more weight on his shoulders would be a good idea at his age.
Jones said he doesn't reach the very top of the mountain but stops about 100 yards from the top. He said the climb typically takes about an hour and 25 minutes.
A partner: For the first time in 37 years, Jones was able to convince a weight-carrying companion to come with him.
Josh Miller, 33, of Mount Holly, has been training with Jones for about a month and a half.
"With my age I need somebody young to push me," Jones said. "If he does it, I have to do it."
Miller will start with a smaller weight on his shoulders and end with Jones' starting weight of 340 pounds by the time he reaches the top.
Jones said he's happy about Miller's involvement and he could see Miller continue the tradition if Jones is unable to keep doing the climb.
Training: Jones said he starts training in April for the event.
"It's dangerous; you have to be very careful," he said. "You have to build a callus on your shoulder for four months to get the feel of that."
Jones said he has two squat stands in his yard about 100 yards apart that allow him to place the weight on his shoulders on his own, and he walks from one stand to the other.
He also trains on the mountain.
"Every other Saturday I walk up the mountaintop with light weight just to get the hill right," he said.
He also walks five to six miles almost every day.
History: Jones said he started doing this exercise when he was told that it would help build his legs.
"I said that I wanted to do something once a year to do something good," he said.
He said he never accepted any money for it and never had any sponsors.
"I didn't want to make a big deal," he said. "I want to end it the same way I started it. Nobody writing anything bad about me."
He asks people for donations in person, and he typically gets between $4,000 and $5,000. One year, he collected as much as $10,000.
He has given donations to sick children in past years but selected Covenant Road House Ministry Center this year.
The ministry works to provide a safe but unconventional worship atmosphere that all are welcomed in, according to a news release. They have been involved with raising funds for youth ministry, drug and alcohol recovery and the motorcycle mission field.
The Minuteman event typically draws 50 to 100 people, but because the donations are collected beforehand, Jones is not concerned about the attendance, he said.
Future: He said he intends to keep the climb going for another few years as he tries to hit 40 consecutive years.
"I promised a little kid one time I could go for 40 years," he said, laughing. "I'm in better shape than I've ever been in. I don't know what I would do if I didn't do this."
This year's climb will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Roundtop Mountain Resort, 925 Roundtop Road, Warrington Township.
Sunday is the rain date.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org.