Height of ambition as cellists eye mountain challenge

HIKING up the four highest peaks in Great Britain and Ireland would be a daunting challenge to most people in any circumstances.

But three inexperienced climbers are to attempt not only that, but to do so while each carrying a two-stone cello which they will use for a performance after reaching each summit.

The so-called Extreme Cellists specialise in taking their performances to the most out-of-the-ordinary places they can imagine.

Their most recent stunt was to play on the roofs of most of England's Anglican cathedrals, two years ago, and they are now preparing for their most physically demanding challenge yet – to give recitals on the top of Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Carrauntoohil in Ireland.

Jeremy Dawson, originally from Sheffield and who now works as a statistician at Aston University, will be taking part with Clare Wallace, 48, a teacher at Sheffield High School, alongside James Rees, 28, a teacher at Kings School in Ely.

They hope the challenge will raise funds and awareness for the spinal cord injury charity, Aspire, and Mountain Rescue. Mr Dawson said they hoped to raise 10,000, to be split between the two charities.

He said: "We're done a number of challenges in the past, which have been interesting and adventurous, but we thought we'd like to raise the bar this time.

"Every time we do something new we have to make it more extreme, to make it interesting enough.

"James came up with the idea of doing the Four Peaks. He originally came up with the Three Peaks, which is quite a common thing to do, so we thought we'd go one further to make it more interesting. We thought it would be manageable, we're all relatively fit and experienced walkers but, at the same time, it's hard enough to attract a bit of interest."

The trio's adventure begins by climbing Ben Nevis at 4,406ft on July 21 before Scafell Pike, England's highest peak at 3,209ft, on July 24. On July 27 they will tackle 3,560ft-high Snowdon before Carrauntoohil at 3,406ft on July 30.

To get fit they have all been working out at the gym and taking on some smaller peaks – with their cellos – to prepare for the ascents.

Mr Dawson said: "We realise we'll have to be super-fit to do this. We thought we'd do it for Aspire, who we've worked with in the past, but we always want to do things for more than one cause and try to make at least one of the causes appropriate to the challenge.

"As we're doing the Four Peaks we thought Mountain Rescue would be appropriate – we just hope we're not going to have to use them."

The trio are all amateur cellists but have semi-professional singing backgrounds and met while members of a church choir. They formed the Extreme Cellists in 2003 after being inspired by a TV documentary.

Aspire's Andrew Ogierman said he was delighted that they are continuing their relationship with the charity.

He said: "The money the cellists raise will help make a difference to the 1,200 people who become paralysed each year by providing a number of practically based projects designed to ensure that spinally injured people have many of their immediate and future needs met, enabling them to live their lives as independently as possible."

n To sponsor the cellists' Four Peaks Challenge visit www. justgiving.com/exteme cello1 or www.justgiving.com/

extremecello2. Those keen to pull on their walking boots are also invited to go along to any of the performances.