Quadruple amputee demonstrates new notion of “possible”
Imagine being caught in a relentless 5 day mountain storm with 90 mph winds and temperatures down to -30°C for five nights. Imagine losing your climbing partner and dear friend. Imagine losing all your hands and feet a few days later due to extreme frostbite.
After attempting to put yourself in that situation, imagine using that experience to only stoke the fire of your passion for the mountains and giving back to your community with this mindset:
“I don’t see myself to be the victim. I was the lucky one. And I have to make the most of this opportunity - not just for myself but to help others.”
This experience, mindset and words are taken from Jamie Andrew - a Scottish mountaineer who became a quadruple amputee at the height of his career after suffering a horrific accident in the French Alps. Many people (including myself) would have been tempted to give up their passion for much more than just the mountains after experiencing hardship of this magnitude - Jamie did everything but give up.
Within 3.5 months Jamie had learned to walk on prosthetic legs, and in 2000 he climbed Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, raising over £15,000 for victims of landmines. Jamie last stood on that summit with his deceased climbing partner Jamie Fisher. Later Jamie eloquently compared his previous climbs of Ben Nevis with the new reality of his physical situation:
Since my world was so rudely turned on its head […] everything in my life has taken on an altered significance: The mundane has become a challenge. The tedious has become new and exciting. Easy has become difficult and difficult has become impossible (almost). And the tourist track up Ben Nevis has become an aspiration.
After tackling Ben Nevis, Jamie continued to accomplish one amazing feat after another - challenging the preconceived notions of ‘possible’ (both his own and others’) and promoting amazing causes along the way. For example, after returning to rock and ice climbing(!), Jamie climbed the Cosmiques Arete on L’Aiguille du Midi with one of his doctors and his rescuers; this adventure was turned into a documentary and won several film festival awards.
In addition, for different charities, Jamie ran the London Marathon, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with an all disabled team of climbers, and returned to the Alps several times to climb peaks such as Mont Blanc du Tacul (4,200m) and The Monch (4,099m).
In total Jamie has raised a over £42,000 for causes such as The British Red Cross, The Across Trust, The John Muir Trustand the Upendo Leprosy Centre…and that’s not all. Jamie also helped found 500 Miles with a fellow quadruple amputee, Olivia Giles. Please go here to help this organization provide desperately needed prosthetic and orthotic services to impoverished disabled people in Malawi and Zambia Africa.
I am incredibly proud and fortunate to have spoken with such an amazing man. I would like to give a big 'thank you' to Jamie for exemplifying the power of a positive mindset when embracing second chances and conquering the ‘impossible’.
Photo: Curtesy of Jamie Andrew