Santiago, King of the Mountain

A trip on Mont Blanc

  Gino Carbonaro
Translation in English by 
Douglas Ponton
From 15 to 19 July 1012, 
Lucas Carbonaro took his parents, Claire & Gino (both over seventy) for a trip on Mont Blanc (Chamonix).

Lucas, with his friend Evgeny Proskurnya, was to climb the highest peak of Europe (4810 m.), while his parents and Mr. Victor Proskurnya (the oldies) were content to have a sort of ramble uphill among views of unimaginable beauty, breathtaking cliffs and delightful colors, breathing oxygen of pristine purity.

The whole is enveloped in a veil of diamond silence.
The whole brushes our skin like some half-heard melody.
Puts simple mortals in contact with someone far above them.
I have not visited Olympus, the realm of the Gods for the Greeks.
But Mont Blanc might be a favourite holiday spot for one who, they say, lives on high.
(Whom St. Francis called the Most High).
And the evidence is there: eagles and gliding ravens.
Ibex approach, curious and without fear, flowers grow as if by magic, there are breathtaking views, pure oxygen and crystalline colors, mountains that seem to defy eternity, covered with snow that recall the "blanqura pequena" of the jasmine, in the words of Garcia Lorca in "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias”.
The mountain is magical, because only here can you purify body and spirit.
Only in the mountains can you perceive immensity, power and beauty in creation, serenity and candor.
More, that harmony which transmits an ecstatic expression of contentment and of eternity.
Mountains that speak in silence, offering purity and calm.

It must be said, though, that this climb/ hike was only possible because of the Alpine Guides.
So we were given another wonderful experience. We got to know men who are different, and who it’s hard to imagine meeting on the street.
Exceptional men, as exceptional as the feat they perform (because difficult and full of danger) of climbing the slopes of a mountain where the trails are marked by nature, where a stone cannot be moved without the risk of causing an avalanche, where in case of need you are alone with yourself, and have only your own ability to rely on.
At the end of our adventure I wrote an email to Santiago Padrós, a mountain guide who lives in Fornesighe (Belluno) in the Dolomites, who was the guide and organiser of our excursion.
A way of saying thanks.
A debt of gratitude.
Here is the letter.

Hello Santi,

Some people might think your work is routine for you, but not me. The Japanese, who are usually not far wrong, say

                            “Ichi go - ichi e”


                          Every encounter is unique,
                                                              Unrepeatable, different, 
                                           never the same as those that came before.

This is true for everyone and also for you. Only like this are we renewed, nourished, and can live.

To meet you, my dear Santi, at my age, with the experience I have of men and things, was to meet a unique person. A sort of Mont Blanc or Everest among human beings.
Speaking professionally, you have it all. Health, intelligence, intuition, vigour, balance, athletic training, a sure touch, knowledge of languages, youth, and an unbridled passion for life, for the mountains, for your work as a Mountain Guide.
I saw you as a Samurai of the Mountains. One who knows that danger can be anywhere, in a badly positioned stone, in another kissed by dew or dressed in a slimy, invisible moss. In the smallest uncertainty or distraction, or in someone who makes a mistake and can bring you down.
These qualities of yours, developed over the years, I read in your eyes, in your simple, direct, essential way of communicating, but also in your decisions. All of them.
This is why Claire and I are saying thanks in writing. For letting us have this indescribable experience on Mount Blanc. On this astonishing creature of our world. Because we want to inscribe, on the tablet of memory, these moments of life spent with you and your colleagues. All experienced men of the Mountains, who communicate with a look, are always able to be "all for one and one for all", to solve every possible problem in good time, maybe by climbing on vertical walls with only the help of fingers, hands, arms and legs, knees and feet, moving with incredible ease, as well as amazing balance. Knowledge of the rock. Knowledge of one’s own body. Professionalism.

Well done, Santiago! And well done, too, the Spanish team.
Sergio Garcia Gomez, of Medellin Colombia, who got on with his work, holding in his heart the memory of his wife and two children left at Barcelona.
Manuel Alonso, immersed in his work, always careful how we moved, but also happy to talk about the "lady love" who didn’t want him to stray too far out of reach.
Ivan Silva, E, Euskera (Guasco) from San Sebastian Bilbao, Pamplona, ​​ always with a cheeky smile on his face.
Well done, your Spanish Alpine team!
Now I understand why in times past you were rulers of the world. But mainly, well done to you all.
Mountain guides, top leaders, special men known only to a few. Because only a few will find you and know how to value, appreciate your intelligence, prowess, and physical beauty.
This is why I wanted to give you another name, a nick-name, Claire would say.

To me you've been and will always remain,                                
            King of the Mountain

 A dynasty (that of the Mountain Kings) which has a long history of vastly different human types, each unique, that the Mountain has shaped. For she is the mother who has brought you up. A mother who can be sweet at times, but not always.
Finally. I invite you to pay a visit to us here in Ragusa, with your "girlfriend". To cut out a different space. We can decide on the period. We look forward to your reply.

If you meet Ivan, Sergio, Manuel .... a warm hug from us. Simple and sincere. As befits men of the Mountain.


Claire from Aberdeen Scotland
Gino from Ragusa Sicily

Gino Carbonaro
Translation in English by 
Douglas Ponton