Nick Allen is an inspiring individual – last year, we shared with you the story of his incredible journey to India and Nepal to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis, and encourage others with this condition to get into the outdoors.
After being diagnosed with MS back in 2010, Nick was devastated – but instead of letting his condition stop him from enjoying the outdoors like he used to, Nick turned his lifestyle around, making key changes to his fitness regime and diet. He went on to found Mastering Mountains – a charitable trust to help tackle perceptions around MS, and to encourage and assist others with this condition to get outside and enjoy activities such as hiking and climbing.
In 2015, Nick embarked on an incredible adventure – the first ever Mastering Mountains expedition. He explored Northern India and Nepal, trekking and climbing and exploring some routes that would be challenging enough – even for someone without MS. In doing so, Nick made a huge difference, proving to others that his diagnosis didn’t have to mean the end of a life of adventure in the outdoors.
This week Nick Allen will be speaking at two of our favourite winter events – the Queenstown Winter Festival and the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in Wanaka.
He’ll be at the Winter Festival’s Pecha Kucha, powered by Macpac on June 30 2016, where he will share his story with just 20 images, narrated by 20 seconds each.
At the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival, he will take on his inspiring journey at the Lake Wanaka Centre – detailing his story from motorised chair, to mountain peaks.
He spoke to us ahead of this week’s exciting events.
I am super excited about the Queenstown Winter Festival and then also the NZ Mountain Film Festival. Not only are Queenstown and Wanaka awesome places to be at this time of the year, I am also really looking forward to meeting other people who are keen on the outdoors and hearing their stories as well. There are so many interesting talks and events on the schedule — all these people I have read or heard about and can’t wait to see and meet in person.
I am also really excited to talk about my trip to India and Nepal. I love being able to retell the stories and to relive the moments — some moments, like summiting Island Peak, never get old and still give me chills to think about! Nevertheless, sharing the stage with world-class photographers and artists makes me feel a bit nervous.
Mastering Mountains has some exciting stuff coming up in the next twelve months. This week, I have been nutting out the legal agreement between Mastering Mountains and Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand, setting up the Mastering Mountains Scholarship for people with MS. The purpose of the scholarship is to help people with MS overcome an obstacle that prevents them from getting outdoors and will be administered by MSNZ as an officially supported scholarship. This is really exciting for me, as it means we are one step closer to offering the scholarship to the MS community! Applications open in September and the first scholarship should be awarded in October. People have been so supportive and I have been able to raise $9,000 so far, which means that we will be able to start with a pretty decent grant.
Also in September, I am aiming to organise a Mastering Mountains fundraiser tramp. The tramp will accommodate people with MS and without, to help everyone get outdoors in a supportive community. I will begin nutting out the details soon, but the proceeds will go towards the scholarship.
In November, a mate and I are planning to do the south face of Mt Douglas in the South Island. I am really excited about this classic Kiwi climb and it is proving to be a great incentive to get back training hard at the gym! One of the biggest challenges for me on a climb like this will be its length. I am excited about it, though, and it represents a good challenge in terms of endurance and fatigue management. My mate and I will do a couple of weeks of training in the Remarkables during July, after my speaking engagements in Queenstown and Wanaka. The Mt Douglas climb will also be a Mastering Mountains event, to help raise awareness of MS, and to change people’s perceptions of the disease — something which I am passionate about. All going to plan, it should be a blast! I have not yet thought much past November, but I am sure there will be lots of other exciting developments, so watch this space
I’m also writing a book about my experiences… and completing this in just three months has proved to be much harder than I expected! It was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Coming out of it, I was pretty smashed — the lowest I have been in quite a number of years. Fortunately, I have been able to make it back into the gym and am slowly ramping up my training in an effort to build my fitness for July. Currently, I am feeling a heap better than I did (which is great!), but still have a little bit to go before I am fully back in shape. It is a slow process, unfortunately, but I do take courage in the incremental changes I see happening.
Check out the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival, and Nick Allen’s event for more information.