Even as a little boy growing up in Leicestershire, England, 81-year-old Nick Gardner was fascinated by mountains and felt it was destined that one day he would live in the Scottish Highlands.
When he was 50 years old, he and his wife, Janet, bought a traditional highland croft in North West Scotland. He had planned to one day climb the mountains there, but he never made it past his local mountains in Wester Ross.
A couple years ago, his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Osteoporosis. Gardner became her caregiver, but at his age, caring for someone else with so many needs became exhausting and took a toll on him, especially mentally.
It became too much for him to handle, and he knew the right thing to do was to get his wife into professional care. But once she left their home, Gardner was overcome with grief.
“We’ve been used to each other’s company all 24/7 for 30 years, and then suddenly, it’s gone,” he wrote. “Janet’s diseases have meant that our wonderful lifestyle has ended abruptly, and l am having great difficulty in coming to terms with it. I didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when he saw a story in a newsletter from the Alzheimer’s Society, where a young woman with no climbing experience, climbed 20 Munros in memory of her grandfather. This inspired Gardner to climb all of the Munros in honor of his wife, to raise money for Alzheimer’s and Osteoporosis.
And so began his new personal challenge: to climb all 282 of the Scottish mountains (Munros), which are over 3,000 feet high, in 1,200 days.
He records his progress on Facebook and Instagram, and has already raised more than $40,000 for Alzeheimer’s and osteoporosis charities.
“[Janet] was passionate about helping others and I am therefore going to raise money in her name to hopefully help make things a little better for others suffering from these dreadful diseases,” Gardner wrote.
Click here to follow his incredible journey on Facebook.