Kirstie Ennis, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant, is the first veteran ever to be featured in the ESPN Body issue.
At 17 years old, Ennis joined the Marines and served for six years before retiring in 2014. However, her last two years were plagued by a series of surgeries and amputations after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan left her seriously injured.
“I will never complain about being an amputee — I’m alive, happy, healthy — but I would do damn near anything to have my left knee back,” Ennis told ESPN. “A below-the-knee amputation is night and day from above-the-knee.”
Originally, Ennis underwent a below-the-knee amputation on her left leg, but an infection prompted an above-the-knee amputation.
Ennis found solace in sports throughout her recovery, especially snowboarding and mountaineering. She hopes to conquer Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, which sees about 33 attempts per year.
“There’s been one other above-the-knee amputee, a guy, who attempted it, and he got pulled off in the first 500 feet of the mountain,” Ennis said. “That’s my mountain.”
Here are some photos of Ennis working to climb mountains and achieve her goals.