CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eight years ago a North Carolina man almost lost his leg in an ATV accident.
What You Need To Know
Jamie Elrod struggled with an addiction to pills for about 22 years
Doctors said he would lose his leg after an ATV accident
Sunday he started his climb with four others up Mount Rainier
After not walking for three years Jamie Elrod fell back into his addiction to pills.
But, he has found peace in the outdoors through hiking.
After being sober for two and a half years, on Sunday he is beginning to climb what the U.S. Geological Society calls one of the most dangerous volcanos in the Cascade Range — Mount Rainier in the state of Washington.
“The doctor said I’d probably lose my leg, and I got hooked on drugs real bad and that literally just, it was a bad time in life. I nearly killed myself,” Elrod said.
Elrod said he couldn’t handle it anymore.
“I looked in the mirror and just started crying,” he said.
He couldn’t take his addition and stagnant life anymore and put himself in rehab and started climbing and hiking again.
“They said I’d never work again. I’d never do anything again. I just started working hard, and I proved everybody wrong,” Elrod said.
After 22 years of using drugs Elrod looked to the outdoors for peace.
“In my case it was either get clean or be dead,” he said.
He met Michael Norman, who’s part of Elrod’s climbing team, on Facebook when Norman put out an ad looking for people to climb Mount Rainier.
“We’re definitely putting our lives in one another’s hands, and I trust these guys completely,” Norman said.
They’ve been preparing for months and gathering all their gear, tents and their strategies and safety measures.
“It’s very dangerous, you have to pay attention and I trust these guys with my life,” Elrod said.
It’s a climb that Elrod said people have died attempting to do.
The National Park Service says Mount Rainier is a challenge to climb and reaching the summit you gain more than 9,000 feet.
So climbers must be in good physical shape and well-prepared.
“I won’t quit. I’ll crawl up that mountain if I have to. I’m going to have problems up there because of the lack of oxygen, and I have a lot of pain issues, but I can’t take anything anymore,” Elrod said.
It’s a climb that he isn’t taking lightly after eight months of training in North Carolina. He says he’s ready to take anything on with his team.
“I wanna show people you can do anything, you just gotta put your mind to it,” Elrod said.
Elrod and the rest of his crew members started the climb on Sunday. They said it will take them a few days and will finish up on Tuesday.
They ran into a bit of a roadblock. The mountain shut down guided tours because of rock falls, but they said they’re still attempting it.