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Preparations for Everest In The Alps 2020 enter final stages

Inspired by Toby Ritchie, the teams, including presenter Phil Spencer, are set to tackle the Alpine slopes.

Rob Ritchie, whose ten 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.

On Feb 29, the three teams of the 2020 challenge will include TV presenter Phil Spencer, who is leading his own team for the gruelling ascent over four days. This will be Phil’s third trip out to the slopes.

They’ll 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 in the Everest In The Alps interview: 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!”

Katie Henderson, the challenge’s youngest skier aged just 20 will be taking part together with her mum Teresa. Katie said the length of the challenge is the most daunting part and “getting up each day to go again no matter how much your legs try and convince you to stay in bed.

“Normally after a race or a hard training day you take a break to allow your body to recover but for the challenge it will be four days in a row of tough, long stretches of walking.”

Each day will be difficult and I’m sure there will be lots of low points but going through it with the rest of the team will be an amazing experience.”

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.

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

Now after three successful summits in 2015, 2018 and 2019, Rob and his team members have raised over £4.5 million – the single largest donation The Brain Tumour Charity had ever received.

Together, Rob, his family and the charity, decided that the money should go towards a specific project, and it was agreed it should be in the area of low grade gliomas: the type of tumour Toby has that so little is known about.

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.

Read more interviews and find out more about the challenge here