Climber, 82, to bag final peak in 282 Munro challenge

Nick Gardner has been climbing Scotland’s highest mountains since his wife went into full-time care.

Charity climbs
Charity climbs

An 82-year-old man said he is “ready and very excited” to scale the final peak in his mission to climb all of Scotland’s Munros.

Nick Gardner has made headlines for setting himself the challenge to scale the country’s 282 highest peaks since his wife Janet, 84, was moved into a care home after developing Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis.

The grandfather-of-four, from Gairloch, in the north-western Scottish Highlands, set off into the hills in July 2020 to begin his impressive feat.

Now, just over two years later, he is about to embark on a bid to bag his final Munro – Cairn Gorm.

Charity climbs
Nick Gardner is meeting others to make his final climb at Cairn Gorm on Saturday (Scott Jackson/Nick Gardner Collection/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of his climb on Saturday, Mr Gardner said: “I really am absolutely ready and very excited about finishing the final Munro.

“I honestly feel like a child on Christmas eve.

“There will be a lot of my friends and some of my family joining me, so it’s going to be a big day.”

Having never climbed a Munro before – a Scottish mountain that reaches a minimum of 3,000ft (914.4m) – the former physics teacher, by the end of his challenge, will have climbed more than 500,000ft (152,000m), the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest (8,848m) about 17 times, and walked an incredible 2,000 miles (3,218 km), a distance similar to hiking from Edinburgh to Greece.

Spreading the word about his mission along the way, the experienced climber has raised more than £50,000 for Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

Staff and volunteers from both charities will be joining him for the final climb, as well as friends and his two daughters and four grandchildren.

A piper has been arranged to play at the summit.

One of his two daughters, Sally McKenzie, has nominated him to Guinness World Records for the oldest person to climb the Munros.

Having completed seven Munros in the last 10 days alone, Mr Gardner said he is looking forward to giving his knees a rest after he has reached the final summit.

“The last three in Knoydart that I did were really tough,” he said.

“We unfortunately had bad weather for Ladhar Bheinn, so it was a bit more challenging.

“Because I had already organised this final day, and for people to join me, I just had to push on through, and I made it.

“I’ve had no injuries, but my knees are certainly tired. It will be good to give them a rest.”

Speaking about how he feels being hours from completing the epic challenge, he added: “It will probably be an anti-climax at the end of all of it.

“Doing this final climb, I imagine, is going to be very emotional.”

Mr Gardner said he was “knocked for six” when his wife Janet, had to be moved into a care home.

Feeling on the brink of a mental breakdown, he said he needed to find a challenge to keep him going.

Having always felt at home on the mountain side, he set off to bag all of Scotland’s Munros.

To donate to Mr Gardner’s cause, visit www.justgiving.com/team/nicks-munro-challenge.

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