When I asked para-athlete and adventure seeker, Jeremy P. McGhee, what he finds strength in, emotionally and physically, he answered me with the question, “How uncomfortable are you willing to get?”
At 25 years old, Jeremy was on his motorcycle running errands in his neighborhood. He was two blocks away from home when a car made a left turn in front of him, a turn that would change his life forever. To this day, he has flashbacks to the moment when all he could see was the car’s side mirror in his face. He has vivid memories of laying on the asphalt, which felt so warm and inviting. Having been a lifeguard at the time, instinct kicked in and Jeremy began to assess his injuries. He knew his back was probably broken when he could not remove himself from the pavement, and knew he was bleeding out as his face and hands quickly began to go cold. Luckily for Jeremy, a team of paramedics was having lunch across the street. They rushed to Jeremy’s rescue and within 20 minutes he was in surgery to save his life. Jeremy sustained broken ribs, a broken pelvis, punctured lungs and a broken back, but the most life-threatening injury was that he was bleeding out from a tear to his perineum or, as Jeremy likes to call it, his choad.
During his time in the hospital Jeremy would ride waves of emotion, many times held under in the darkness. With each wave that he rode it as if the storm began to calm and he started to settle into his new reality. It was during this time that Jeremy decided to take what he called a, “Practical approach at life and continue to choose living, because the alternative sucks!” He paddled out into the unknown ready to be barreled or pounded by the new swell that had just rolled in: his new life’s journey as a paraplegic...
Two years after paraplegic skier, Jeremy McGhee, climbs Bloody Mountain he talks about the expedition.
Jeremy McGhee’s goggles were fogged, his left arm was cramped up, and his body was drenched in sweat. It took every bit of the 38-year-old’s strength and determination to pull his body up to the summit of Bloody Mountain, a 12,544-foot peak in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada range.
“We all have our list of things we want to do,” McGhee says. “If those things are worth a damn, they are going to be difficult they are going to be painful—achieving those things on our list is directly tied to how uncomfortable we are willing to get.”
It was early June in a low snow year. The plan was to ski Bloody Couloir, a 55-degree slope that is considered a rite of passage for only the most advanced backcountry skiers and snowboarders in the region. The fact that McGhee is paralyzed from the waist down substantially added to the degree of difficulty. It took years of dreaming, months of planning, a support team, and more than 1,000 pull-ups get to the summit.
McGhee laid face down on a plastic sled while using ropes and pulleys placed by a supporting team of climbers to pull himself up the couloir. A friend carried his sit ski up the ridge; his wheelchair waited for him in the car...