I am excited to continue to climb the world to end Alzheimer’s. Next up is the highest in the UK, Ben Nevis, on March 5, 2012. I will be in the UK speaking at the Alzheimer’s Disease International annual conference. I will tell the story of my mom, Ida, her struggles and my sense of helplessness at the time.
However since her death in 2009, I have channeled those feelings into raising awareness that Alzheimer’s is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes but unlike many diseases, has no cure, no effective ment and no simple means of early . This all must change and it will come with more money invested in research, education and awareness. That is the message I will send from the highest peak in the UK.
Alzheimer’s in the UK
According to the Alzheimer’s Society of the UK, there are 750,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to one million by 2021. And similar to other countries around the world, the financial and emotional on caregivers are substantial. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates 36 million people worldwide have dementia. As the population ages, that number will increase to 66 million by 2030 and to 115 million by 2050.
Known as simply Ben by the local, it is steeped in history and acclaimed as one the premier climbing spots in all the UK. It is located in the Scottish Highlands at the western end of the Grampian Mountains. The nearest town in Fort Williams and also Glasgow.
The first summit was recorded in 1771 by a botanist, James Robertson. In 1883 an observatory was built on the summit and now is no longer in operation but the trail aka the Pony Track, remains popular and is used by thousands each year. The John Muir Trust bought massif and surrounding area in 2000. The second highest peak in the UK is Ben Macdui at 4,295’/1309m, northwest of Ben Nevis.
Ben is climbed year round but is famous for difficult weather with clouds covering the summit nearly 80% of the time in winter and 50% in summer. It is said the summit is clear one out of every ten days. The average summit temperature is around freezing and it receives twice as much rainfall as nearby Fort Williams. There is snow year-round in the gullies.
I will be climbing the classic Tower Ridge (pictured above), a 1800′ ridge line with significant exposure and several tricky parts. It is graded as a Scottish level iV, 3 meaning the route has steep ice with short vertical steps or long pitches up to 70º, or mixed routes requiring advanced techniques. I will be climbing with Ken Applegate of Abacus Mountain Guides
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