The 82-year-old man’s goal to climb Scotland’s 282 Munros is just eight peaks away from being finished.


Nick Gardner was “knocked for six” when his 50-year companion Janet, who had osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease, had to be put into a care facility.

The 82-year-old man from Gairloch in the northwest Scottish Highlands decided to set himself a challenge: to climb all 282 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3,000ft tall).

Three months after Nick turned 80, in July 2020, the project got under way.

Just eight summits remain for him to climb after two years.

He said, “It absolutely broke me when Janet went into care.”

We had a really tight relationship, and she was the most loving and caring wife, mother, and grandmother imaginable. But now she doesn’t recognize me.

Janet, Nick’s wife, needed to move into a care facility because she had osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s (Picture: PA)
He realized he needed to do something to keep himself busy, so he decided to challenge himself. (Image: PA)

I realized I was on the verge of a mental breakdown and decided to set myself a goal to help me recover.

Before starting this incredible journey, Nick had never scaled a Munro, but he set a lofty goal for himself: to complete all 282 climbs in just 1,200 days.

He is currently on course to complete much faster than anticipated, in less than 800 days.

Nick’s objective isn’t only to keep himself occupied; he’s also trying to raise money for the Royal Osteoporosis Society and Alzheimer Scotland (ROS).

Nick made the decision to climb all 282 of Scotland’s highest mountains shortly after turning 80. (Picture: PA)
He needs to climb eight more summits to complete his objective. (Image: PA)

By the time he crosses the finish line, Mr. Gardner will have walked 2,000 miles (3,218 km), which is roughly equivalent to traveling from Edinburgh to Greece, and ascended more than 500,000 feet (152,000 meters), which is roughly the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest (8,848 meters) nearly 17 times.

He has been put forward for the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person to climb the Munros by Sally McKenzie, one of his two daughters.

I am so close to finishing it, I truly feel like a child in the lead-up to Christmas, said Nick. I’m stung by butterflies.

I’m going to cry when I get there, I know it.

Along the journey, he is raising money for organizations that fight Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis (Picture: PA)

Since I am over 80, I always have someone with me because I believe it would be reckless for me to climb alone at this time.

I don’t speed up the mountain, so after I’d climbed the first two or three Munros, I just started stopping people to explain what I was doing.

People began to join me and donate money because they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.

Now, I frequently hear “Nick” shouted while I’m walking.

“Nick, excuse my language, but you’re a f***ing legend,” a man walked up to me and said.

“I don’t usually get cursed at like that,” she said.

He’s on course to complete the task 800 days sooner than anticipated (Picture: PA)

Nick has a deep love for mountains and talks about them with remarkable reverence.

He claimed, “I have climbed mountains; I have never defeated or conquered one.”

“If you start trying to conquer them, they’ll get back at you,” the saying goes.

The hardest mountain he’s faced thus far? Isle of Skye’s Cuillin Ridge.

And what was on his check list for completing each Munro’s summit? a down jacket, a head torch, waterproof clothing, a compass, and a map.

When this challenge is over, I’ll keep going as far as my legs will take me (Picture: PA)

Nick still needs to climb three peaks in Knoydart—Ladhar, Mell Buidhe, and Luinne Bheinn—four peaks in Glen Dessary—Sgurr na ciche, Garbh chioche mhor, Sgurr nan coireachan, and Sgurr Mor—and the 282nd summit of Cairn Gorm in the Highlands, where friends and family will accompany him on the last ascent.

Initially hoping to raise £10,000, he is now on track to raise £50,000.

After completing the challenge, he continued, “I will keep walking as long as my legs can carry me.”

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