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82-Year-Old Man Completes The Munro Challenge

An 82-year-old grandfather of four has succeeded in his challenge of scaling all 282 of Scotland’s Munros, which are mountains measuring over 3,000ft (914 metres). The BBC reports that Nick Gardener, from Gairloch in the north-western Scottish Highlands, took up the challenge after his wife Janet went into a nursing home.

Mr Gardner, a retired physics teacher, began his remarkable feat of endurance in July 2020. Along the way, he covered 2,000 miles and conquered over 152,000 metres of elevation. He also raised nearly £60,000 for Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society, charities which represent conditions his wife suffered from.

The Munros are so called because they are named after Sir Hugh Munro, who founded the Scottish Mountaineering Club. In September 1891, he published a list of all the Scottish mountains over 3,000ft, after some exhaustive surveys. The list has been revised over the years, as more accurate methods of measuring elevations have been developed.

Family, friends, and supporters gathered at the summit of the final mountain, Cairn Gorm, to form a ‘guard of honour’ with walking poles. Mr Gardner commented: "I'm on cloud nine, it's absolutely surreal. I have never experienced anything quite like it - it's like a little boy opening his Christmas presents. I was walking through the archway thinking, it's all for me."

The most difficult point of Mr Gardner’s challenge was tackling the Skye Cuillin Munros. These form part of the Cuillin range on the Isle of Skye, and are regarded as one of the toughest mountain challenges in the UK. It requires a lot of mental and physical stamina, and is tough even for people considerably younger than 82 years old!

Mr Gardner said: "If you're a mountaineer you'll know the Cuillin Ridge. It's not a big area but very pointed and jaggy and very dangerous. There are 11 Munros in a line and doing that in one go, it took two days to do it. That was the biggest challenge of the lot."

It is certainly an inspirational story for anyone thinking about taking on a mountain climbing challenge, and the exhilarating views from the summit make it well worth the effort. However, it’s best to work up to the trickier climbs gradually, to build up your level of physical fitness and technical competence first.

You will need a good head for heights, and the confidence to move over rocky terrain using both hands and feet, a technique known as scrambling. Some of the most difficult routes may also require rock climbing skills, including the use of ropes, harnesses, and hard hats.

Even if the route doesn’t specifically state that rock climbing is needed, it can be useful to have some basic instruction before taking on a more challenging route. Keep an eye on the weather forecast too, as rain and mist make rocky terrain extra hazardous.

Mr Gardner remarked that he was certainly in need of a rest after his Munro mountain marathon, but he was determined to carry on hiking. Next on his list is the Devon and Cornwall coastal path.

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