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Phil Spencer takes on third Everest In The Alps

In just over three weeks time, the teams including presenter Phil Spencer, are set to tackle the Alpine slopes.

Rob Ritchie whose twelve year old son Toby has a low grade brain tumour, founded the challenge’s concept.

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 8,848 metres uphill, the height of Everest.

Funds raised by all the 2020 teams will go to The Everest Centre, financed by The Brain Tumour Charity with a global remit to research new treatments.

On Feb 29, the three teams of the 2020 challenge will include TV presenter Phil Spencer, leading his own team for the gruelling ascent over four days.

This will be Phil’s third trip out to the slopes. Phil leads Team MoveiQ: Phil, Nick Sowerbutts, Richard Billington, Tom Golding and James Orme-Smith – a group of five close friends as well as fathers with young children.

All the teams will climb for 10-14 hours each day, burning 10,000 calories and using the energy required to complete three back-to-back marathons.

Sleeping in mountain huts, they’ll set out before dawn each day in temperatures that can drop as low as -30c during this epic challenge, as they did in 2018.

Phil said: “There are so many facets aside from the physical height. You’ve got the weather, the altitude, you’ve got the unknown, the route, the routine and you’ve got the temperature.

“It could be +20 degrees or it could be -20 degrees and that’s something else that’s quite individual to this challenge.

“There’s no hiding place in the mountains, once you start, you have to finish because your hut’s at the top, so what are you going to do? You still have to get up there even if it hurts or your kit breaks, your bed is still at the top of the mountain!”

“This is without question, the hardest challenge I’ve done by a long way. If you’re running a marathon and you blow a gasket, well, you just stop and go home. If you do Everest in the Alps and you decide after a day and a half that you’re not fit enough for it, you’ve got to keep going.

“There’s your team who you can’t let down and also you’ve been sponsored massively so there’s a huge amount of pressure to finish.”

“I ask myself why I keep coming back but I absolutely love it! It takes me massively out of my comfort zone whilst raising money for families that aren’t as fortunate as my own.”

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Now after three successful summits in 2015, 2018 and 2019, Rob and his team members have raised over £4.5 million.

The Everest Centre was established in 2017 to conduct ground-breaking research projects, led Dr David Jones, 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 500 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.

Pic © EIA