An 82-year-old said he felt ‘like a kid on Christmas Eve’ as he set out to scale the final peak of a mission to climb all of Scotland’s Munro.
Nick Gardner took on the challenge to try and raise money for Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) after his wife, Janet, 84, who has since moved into a care home, developed both terms.
The grandfather of four left in July 2020 to begin his impressive feat of climbing the 282 highest peaks in the country and Saturday was destined to bag his last Munro, Cairn Gorm.
“I’m really absolutely ready and really excited to finish the final Munro,” Gardner, from Gairloch in the North West Scottish Highlands, told the PA news agency.
“I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. There will be a lot of my friends and some family members joining me, so it’s going to be a great day.
Gardner, who describes himself as an “experienced walker and climber” on his JustGiving page, had never climbed a Munro before.
The Munros, named after mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro, are Scottish mountains rising to over 914 meters.
Gardner, a former physics professor, will have climbed more than 152,000 meters by the end of his challenge, the equivalent of climbing Everest (8,848 meters) around 17 times.
He will have covered an astonishing 2,000 miles, a distance similar to the trek from Edinburgh to Greece.
After grabbing headlines with his impressive achievement, he also surpassed his £50,000 charity target, raising £59,640 on Saturday afternoon.
Before the final hurdle of his mammoth challenge, Gardner said, “Doing that last climb, I imagine, is going to be very emotional.”
He added that having been ‘stricken for six years’ when Janet had to be taken into care, the challenge saved him from having a nervous breakdown.
Staff and volunteers from Alzheimer’s Scotland and ROS were expected to join Gardner for the final climb, as were his two daughters, four grandchildren and a few friends.
A piper was arranged to play at the top when the group arrived.
Gardner’s daughter, Sally McKenzie, named him to Guinness World Records as the oldest person to climb the Munros.
After completing seven Munros in the 10 days leading up to his latest challenge, Gardner said on Saturday he was looking forward to resting his knees.
“The last three days I’ve been at Knoydart have been really tough,” he said. “Because I had already organized this last day, and for people to join me, I had to push forward, and I succeeded. I had no injuries, but my knees are certainly tired. It will be good to give them a rest.