Conditions were perfect for the first day of the ascent. The four-day challenge will test all skiers to their limits, ascending over 2,500 metres every day to reach their target
Each team member will also burn off the equivalent calories of running several back-to-back marathons on each of the four days.
Phil Spencer, Channel 4 presenter of Location, Location, Location and Love it or List It is also taking part in the epic ski tour challenge in Verbier, Switzerland, despite breaking a rib!
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.
The expedition’s background
Phil joins Rob Ritchie, whose five year old son Toby, has a low grade brain tumour and 38 others to scale the height of Everest on skiis in the next four days.
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: “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.”
Tanya Ritchie, Toby’s mum, heads up Toby’s Team, along with six other mums.
Tanya said: “The challenge next week has ruled our lives for months now. The training, the fund raising, covering the cost of kit and the trip.
“It has been a serious consideration and an extraordinary thing to attempt for all seven of us.”
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.
Phil said: “Everest in the Alps will make a difference for The Everest Centre and for vital research that just wasn’t there before.”
Watch Phil and Rob’s Everest in the Alps video here