81-Year-Old Man Climbing Mountains for Alzheimer’s in Honor of His Wife

Nick Gardner had always enjoyed climbing mountains, but now at age 81, he’s got an even bigger reason to do so.

Gardner was living an ideal life with his wife Janet on their land in the Scottish Highlands when the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s rocked their world in 2018.

Of Janet, who was a primary school teacher, Gardner says, “Many people have described Janet as being the most gentle and compassionate person they have ever met. She has been the most wonderful and caring wife, mother and grandmother possible and I am eternally grateful that l fell in love with her.”

Finding himself unsure how to go forward as her health deteriorated, Gardner needed to find something to do. He settled on climbing all 282 of Scotland’s Munro mountains in 1200 days. This is in an effort to raise £40,000 for Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society. Janet has also lived with osteoporosis since 2002.

How did he come up with the idea for his challenge?

He explains, “A story appeared in a recent newsletter from the Alzheimer’s Society where a young woman, who had no climbing experience, climbed 20 Munros in memory of her grandfather, who had the disease. This inspired me to attempt to climb all the Munros to raise funds for Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.”

As a boy, Gardner says he was always fascinated with the mountains, and he had hoped to one day climb the Munros. However, when he and Janet bought their land, he got more caught up in gardening and being self-sufficient. He also found his local mountains alluring enough that he was content there.

Now, with a goal of making things better for others who are battling the same illnesses as his wife, as well as their caregivers, Gardner is finally tackling the Munros. Despite his age, he thinks he has a good handle on it.

He says, “I am an experienced walker and climber, and I adore the Scottish mountains … and despite my grand old age, I think I have the mountaineering skills, experience and fitness to succeed!”

He’s chronicling his progress on his Facebook page and asking anyone who’s interested to come along on his treks. He’s tackled many of the Munros so far, climbing peaks over 3,000 feet in the process.

While he acknowledges that there isn’t anything to be done to cure Janet, he says he can still help others. He hopes other people will contribute to the cause.

To follow along on Gardner’s adventures, visit his Facebook page. You can also learn more about his story from the video below.

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