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Calgary man to climb 21 mountains in 21 days for men's mental health

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A Calgary man is taking to new heights to bring awareness and show support for men's mental health.

Dale Simpson is embarking on a challenge to climb 21 mountains in Alberta in 21 days — and he hopes to raise at least $21,000 for addiction and recovery programming along the way.

"There's a lot of people that suffer from addiction or mental health issues and there's a stigma around it," Simpson told CTV News.

"I know there was (a stigma) for me myself.”

Simpson has struggled with depression, anxiety and addiction for the better part of two decades, he said, so he knows how difficult it can be to find support.

Part of his recovery has included getting outside. Regular hikes, through twisting trees and pathways, bring a calmness, he said.

"With the city, that hustle and bustle and jobs and bills and relationships — all these things that are happening. It's just hectic in my head,” he said.

"I come out here and it just it doesn't take long to just calm down to quiet down connect with myself."

That connection to nature is what helped inspire Courage to Summit, an initiative aiming to create a community for men struggling with their mental health. The challenge is supported by Plants for a Purpose, a non-profit that puts funding towards charities on a quarterly basis.

"We feel like our families, our children, our partners have carried the weight of our pain and trauma and shame for too long," said Ian Potapoff, the executive director of Plants for a Purpose.

"It's time for us guys to band together and start helping other guys," he added.

Money donated to Simpson's climbing challenge will be used to establish a peer support community for men and it will also go towards wellness programming at Hollow Bone Healing Lodge.

Simpson summited Midnight Peak in Kananaskis on Wednesday to mark his first climb. He's using his vacation time from work to complete the rest of the 20 climbs over 20 consecutive days.

His climbs are much like his recovery journey.

"It is scary and it is lonely and it is hard, but it is doable,” he said.

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