B.C. senior begins 'Grind' climbs for Pakistan

An 80-year-old retired Vancouver professor is raising money for Pakistani flood victims in an unusual way — he's hiking up the Grouse Grind 20 times.

An 80-year-old retired Vancouver professor is raising money for Pakistani flood victims in an unusual way — he's hiking up the Grouse Grind 20 times.

The gruelling 2.9-kilometer climb up the side of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver can exhaust a fit person of any age, but Muhammad Iqbal said it's no problem for him.

"I don't need paramedics to come with me, no," Iqbal said. "I am a very fit person, fortunately. I am blessed. I've done it so many times."

Most people over 50 take about an hour to hike up the Grind. It takes Iqbal one hour and 46 minutes, and he plans to make at the climb least another 19 times — three times a week — in his fundraising effort.

His intention is to raise $800 in pledges for every hike he completes, with an ultimate goal of collecting $16,000.

Runs charitable foundation

"First of all, you help your family, your friends, relatives, community and the world at large," Iqbal said. "These people [in Pakistan] are close to me and I feel that I have the obligation to do something."

Some of the heaviest monsoon rains ever recorded have caused massive floods in what's been called the worst natural disaster in Pakistan's 63-year history. As many as 20 million people have been made homeless.

Iqbal's charity, The Maria Helena Foundation, has already built 12 primary schools, a hospital and two sewing schools in Pakistan, his native country.

His spirits were high by the end of his first hike Tuesday.

"I am not huffing, puffing," he said. "I'm not going to fall apart. I'm ready to do it in two days again."

 

With files from the CBC's Meera Bains and Wilson Wong