Scarpa Athlete Carmine de Grandis has two main passions – running and the accordion. Each Christmas Carmine likes to combine is two passions and play the ‘highest carol concert in the UK’.
In this blog Carmine tells us all about his mission to play carols in the mountains – despite the UK weather conditions!
I did not manage to travel to Ben Nevis as many roads were closed in Scotland so I went to the Lake District and focused the “Music in the Mountains” project there. I went to support friends at the Tour of Helvellyn Ultra race – which was also shortened due to the weather. Then Norman, my sprocker spaniel, and I took my accordion and all necessary safety gear to Scafell Pike.
Stuart, a hiker from Newcastle and is friend summited at the same time so we enjoyed a bit of Carol singing together in -12 wind chill and snow. It was nice and worthwhile. Getting down was more challenging due to the ice getting worse.
Once down, a little rest, and a night ascent to the next 3000 feet mountain, Skiddaw. I went up with Angela White, a very experienced and wise Ultra runner from the Lakes. This was far harder than we expected. Poor visibility, snow and severe wind chill on top made it impossible for me to take the accordion out.
It was hard enough to put a couple of extra layers on. Coming down was like being on an ice rink. Nicola from Hiking Highs who helped organise the event gave me a bed for the night. We then shared a hike with accordion to the Dam below Catsycam. Rebecca and David had travelled from Norfolk. Aldo, Theo and Will came from Uni on their way back home. We had a great time and confirmed that the choice not to encourage everyone to go up Helvellyn was the right call because of high winds, cold temperatures and ice. From here we went to our main Carols event.
The Glenridding Hotel had kindly offered their bar for the event. Many trail runners and mountain lovers came with their families and residents also enjoyed the Carols with accordion (myself), the flute (Will) and the Ukalele (Aldo).
Theo helped by doing the raffle. Prices were very generous with 2 x trail shoes from Scarpa Uk, 1 x Guided Walk for 2 from Hiking Highs and many RAB Equipment Prices. Mulled wine, mince pies and lots of laughs made it a great afternoon. As we reached the goal of £500 people have kept donating and a second Carol singing opportunity where I live in Norfolk has continued to raise some funds. If you are reading this, it is because you care for the environment, the community and your wellbeing. I wish a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and hope all your dreams will come true. May God or what gives you spiritual strength be with you every step of the way.
La vita e’ bella… (Life is Beautiful)! This is my motto.
However I saw my dad suffer and die of Cancer. I saw my uncle die of cancer and I have seen far too many suffer from this horrible disease.
I seek solace in the mountains like many others. I go up and come back healed, yet I am always grateful that some very skilled and generous volunteers from Mountain Rescue Services will come to my help if I was in trouble or had an accident. They would leave their family any time of day or night, even on Christmas Day!
So I have a project in memory of my Dad who died of Cancer. I love running and I love playing music – I play the Accordion – … so I take my accordion to the Mountains and play or sing for others and with others. The mountains become our home and we create community and memories beyond the fatigue to reach the top and the views. We discover that WE BELONG TOGETHER!
This Christmas for the second time I will carry my accordion to the top of Helvellyn and I will play Christmas Carols and other music for all those who will join us. If you cannot join us in person – I would not want everyone to travel hundreds of miles as this is damaging to the environment -, you can sing where you are. We will try to do some “live” broadcasting on social media. You can also help raise funds for the two charities we are supporting: CLIMBERS AGAINST CANCER and MOUNTAIN RESCUE.
ALL FUNDS WILL BE SPLIT 50/50.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOICE AND YOUR GENEROSITY… TOGETHER WE CAN DEFEAT THE PAIN CANCER BRINGS… AND, THROUGH FUNDING RESEARCH, CANCER ITSELF.