TV presenter Phil Spencer will be back in the Swiss Alps at the end of this month for his third winter as part of one of the teams taking part in the charity fund-raiser ‘Everest in the Alps’.
In 2015, Rob Ritchie 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.
Rob (pictured below), whose twelve year old son Toby has a low grade brain tumour, founded the challenge’s concept.
Funds raised by all the 2020 teams will go to The Everest Centre, financed by The Brain Tumour Charity with a goal to research new treatments. The centre funds several vital research projects that aim to 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 has ever received.
On February 29th, the three teams of the 2020 challenge will include TV presenter Phil Spencer, leading his own team for the gruelling ascent over four days. 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,” Phil added, “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,” he concluded.
Katie Henderson, the challenge’s youngest skier aged just 20 will also 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.”