Phil Spencer takes on the second Everest in the Alps challenge

Wednesday 31 January 2018

Channel 4 presenter of Location, Location, Location and Love it or List It to join charity's epic ski tour challenge in Verbier, Switzerland

Phil will join Rob Ritchie (pictured), whose five year old son Toby, has a low grade brain tumour and 38 others to scale the height of Everest on skiis in just four days from 26 February.

In 2015, Rob and 13 of his friends and family travelled to the Swiss village of Verbier where they took on the very first Everest in the Alps – by skiing a gruelling 8,848 metres uphill, the height of Everest.

The group raised an incredible £3million, helping fund the creation of The Everest Centre for research in Germany – a leading research centre into paediatric low grade tumours which opened in June 2017.

Everest in the Alps: the second ascent, which was inspired by Rob, is a demanding challenge that reflects the mountain his son, Toby, still has to climb in his fight against the disease.

Phil said: Something that really resonates with me is talking about Toby's Everest and the challenges he faces. For us, this is our big challenge. I know I will never take part in such a physical challenge as big as this so it is my personal Everest.

“It's a really interesting challenge, it's unique. When you tell people they're immediately curious, not that they can really picture what 5.5 miles vertical actually looks like, or indeed might feel like, to try and climb.

“There's no hiding - this is going to be extremely tough."

The challenge of the training

The four-day challenge will test all skiers to their limits. They'll be ascending over 2,500 metres every day to reach their target, burning off the equivalent calories of running several back-to-back marathons on each of the four days.

Along the route, the team will be spending the nights in mountain huts, giving them a basic but well-earned rest and a chance to gather their strength. Early starts mean that they have to be back on the slopes at 6.30am each morning.

Training has been tough in itself. The vertical nature of the challenge will present Phil with the biggest challenge, says Rob. It's just not something most people are even remotely used to. Over the last few months, Phil's been using a specialized Versaclimber machine to get in shape.

I keep saying to myself I've still got a few weeks and you can do a lot but I'm still very nervous about the whole challenge.

“When I was invited my initial thought was, yeah this is a great cause and then I tried to find out more about it and I had five days of thinking: 'Can I do this?, Am I physically fit enough?, Can I get into shape?'

“I started jogging, making some improvements to my fitness but then when the website went live with all the facts and what exactly would be involved, I nearly cried. I thought 'Oh my god, what have I done!'"

The impact of the second ascent

Funds raised by Phil, Rob and all the teams will go to The Everest Centre, financed by The Brain Tumour Charity with a global remit to research new treatments.

The centre will fund several, vital research projects that will help us understand more about low grade paediatric brain tumours and trial new treatments.

Globally over 26,000 children have a low grade paediatric brain tumour and every year in the UK another 300 children are diagnosed. The location of low grade tumours in the brain often make them only partially operable.

Consequently children often have to go through multiple rounds of invasive treatment like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and relapse is a constant fear.

Head over to the Everest in the Alps website for more about the challenge: www.everestinthealps.com

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