The former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant wants to climb all seven summits.
In part, it’s former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Kirstie Ennis' life-changing injury that’s fueled a sense of adventure. In 2012, working as a helicopter door gunner on her final deployment to Afghanistan, Ennis’ copter crashed. She was left with traumatic brain, face, and spine injuries. It also resulted in the amputation of her left leg above the knee.
Exercise and outdoor adventure, Ennis says, saved her life. Now, five years later, the 26-year-old is in Nepal. Her goal: to summit Everest. If that sounds ambitious, know that it’s just part of her bigger plan, which is to climb all of the ‘seven summits,’ the highest peak on each continent.
She’s already made progress, too. In July, with The Heroes Project—a group that empowers injured war veterans through physical expeditions—Ennis became the first female U.S. veteran above-the-knee amputee to summit Carstensz Pyramid, a 16,023-foot peak in Western Papua.
Also this year, she was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. Next March, she hopes to snowboard in the winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.
Furthermorecaught up with Ennis about what it takes to keep pushing further forward—and upward.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for editorial purposes.