An “inspirational” 81-year-old man has conquered 87 of Scotland’s 282 Munro mountains in the last 10 months, raising £26,355 for Alzheimer Scotland.
Retired teacher and keen mountaineer Nick Gardner, who lives in Aultbea, was devastated by his 83-year-old wife Janet’s move into Isle View Care Home.
Her declining health with Alzheimers disease and osteoporosis meant he could no longer look after her.
Lost and bereft, he decided to set himself a challenge to climb all of Scotland’s 282 Munros to both honour his wife and for his own mental health and well-being.
He says: “I was so upset and it felt like life was over.
“I was absolutely bereft. I knew that I had to find a focus on something to give me a reason to get up each day, to give me back a sense of purpose, something that would last a long time.”
‘I needed a real challenge’.
Initially, the impetus was completely for his own benefit and mental health.
Then, by chance, Nick read an article about a daughter of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who had set out to walk and raise £10,000 to give back to the charity that had helped her mum.
And the idea was born.
Setting out in August 2020, Nick chose a target to raise £10,000.
He began climbing Munros and chatting to people when he was hiking. On hearing his story they would hand him cash or make an online donation.
And now, a chance encounter on his second Munro with 48-year-old mental health and addiction specialist Ross Hyslop – an advocate for nature, cold water dips and mountain climbing. has given his fundraising plans a bit of a twist.
As part of Mental Health Awareness week, Nick and Ross are heading up a team of 20 climbers this weekend to do the Three Peak Challenge to boost Nick’s fundraising and smash his £28,200 target.
Starting at Ben Nevis car park on Friday, May 21, at 5pm, they will be climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, and all within 24 hours, to raise more money for Alzheimers Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Charity.
Ross, a Lanark councillor who is setting up a business called Scout and About, says he’s been “blown away” and inspired by Nick’s “quiet determination and steady, strong pace”.
Nick, he says, has become a mentor and a good friend
“We hook up for climbs and my team have fallen in love with him.
“He regularly gets recognised on climbs now and is generous with his advice and encouragement with novice climbers too.”
‘I’ve climbed my highest summit’
Nick says his biggest mountain is behind him.
“Janet and I had 30 wonderful years together and the sadness I have felt has been overwhelming.
“I lost my soulmate. Losing Janet has been the biggest mountain I have had to climb.”
To join the team on their 24 hour challenge climbing Ben Nevis, Scaffel Pike and Snowdon, please arrive at Ben Nevis car park for a 5pm start.