Every so often you hear stories about people achieving milestones and mighty feats that to the rest of us, seem nigh-on impossible. Nick Allen is one of those people, his story is nothing short of miraculous and downright awe-inspiring!
This week Nick Allen left New Zealand to pursue his life’s dream, to climb the mountains of the Himalayas and reach Everest Base Camp. But Nick is not your normal, fit and athletic mountaineer.
About Nick and living with Multiple Sclerosis
Nick is a young New Zealander living with Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable disease with no known cause that afflicts over 2.5 million people worldwide. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Its symptoms can include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more.
Growing up Nick dreamed of climbing Mt Everest. He was passionate about being in the wilderness, climbing to the highest peaks and feeling on top of the world. His life centered around tramping, camping and climbing- the beautiful, rugged landscapes of New Zealand were his playground, the great outdoors his home.
But at the age of 21, Nick’s wild adventures came to an abrupt halt. He was struck down with inexplicable chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and various health complaints. Over the next few years Nick’s health deteriorated until he was unable to walk unassisted and was forced to use a mobility scooter to get around.
“I was unable to walk on any uneven surface because of poor balance, and could not walk for more than five or ten minutes at a time due to fatigue. Mountains began to represent the impossible and insurmountable – a failed dream,” recalls Nick.
The diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was heart-breaking and life-changing.
Radical life changes to beat the disease
Battling severe depression and a debilitating illness, Nick knew he had to make some radical changes in order to start truly living again. He contacted a physical therapist and a specialist personal trainer and took a dramatic new approach to his diet. This meant cutting out anything that could negatively impact his health, avoiding fat, sugar, dairy and packaged and processed foods. Nick’s new diet focused instead on whole raw foods and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
After many years of consistent rehabilitation and gym work combined with a good healthy diet, Nick is back! Back in the mountains he loves so much with a personal mission to help others explore the therapeutic and invigorating benefits of being out in the natural environment.
Miracles can happen!
Nick has set up a Charitable Trust called ‘Mastering Mountains’. The purpose of the trust is to change perceptions of Multiple Sclerosis, highlight the importance of correct nutrition and exercise, and organize trips specifically designed for MS sufferers.
“Having once been in this position, I know how hard this is and now I really want to help others overcome this in any way they can. This is why I set up Mastering Mountains and its scholarship fund for people with MS to help them get outdoors,” explains Nick. http://www.masteringmountains.org
To accomplish this, Nick intends to climb a significant mountain every year, and raise money along the way. Many people who suffer from MS are physically unable to regain the ability to walk or climb, so there will be considerable costs involved in getting them into the bush or up a mountain. For example, a person might want a helicopter ride to the top of Fox Glacier, or a guide to support them as they walk a forest track, or they may just want to hire a quad-bike so that they can drive along the beach.
Mastering Mountains will help these people enjoy a part of life that was previously completely unaffordable and unattainable. For many it will be the chance to realize their life’s dream.
Living well with MS
Another aim of Mastering Mountains is to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and the importance of correct nutrition and exercise in your daily life. Diet and physical activity remain absolutely key to Nick’s continued health and will be critical to his completing the treks and climbs he has planned. Nick’s website provides a platform to communicate the highs and lows of outdoor pursuits with MS, so that people affected by MS might be able to enjoy the benefits of healthy living and outdoor adventures as he does.
Let the mighty journey begin!
This week Nick left on his first intrepid adventure, a 2 month trip to India and Nepal. The goal: Climb Stok Kangri (6100m) in India, complete the remote Hampta Pass (India), and then to trek up to Everest Base Camp and return via the famous Three Passes route.
Nick is writing a blog about his experience which you can follow here: http://www.masteringmountains.org/blog/
We are thrilled to be supporting Nick in his pursuit to change perceptions on MS and to tackle these formidable climbs.
Nick’s drive ,determination, and commitment to helping others with MS is a powerful inspiration to us all!
If you would like to join us in supporting Nick and his charitable work, please donate here: