Everest in the Alps and the Brain Tumour Charity – Five years on!

By Claire Knight: Head of Fundraising at The Brain Tumour Charity

Five Years Ago…

Everest in the Alps founder Rob Ritchie had the amazing (crazy!) idea to create an epic challenge to raise funds to set up a dedicated research centre for low grade paediatric brain tumours, following his son Toby’s diagnosis.

Five years ago, that first Everest in the Alps challenge took place, the team raised an incredible £3m and Rob’s idea became a reality…

Fast forward to 2020 and The Brain Tumour Charity’s Everest Centre for Research into Paediatric Low Grade Brain Tumours in Heidlberg is now three years old and, under the leadership of Dr David Jones, this ground-breaking international research initiative is working to improve understanding of low grade childhood brain tumours, and to develop and test new treatments that are significantly less harmful to children’s quality of life.

To date, four Everest in the Alps challenges have raised an amazing £4.6m and research is making great progress – to maintain the momentum of this vital programme of work and secure the fantastic research team we have in place, we aim to raise another £5m over the next 5 years.

Our 2020 team

We were thrilled to have brilliant and dedicated fundraisers take on Everest in the Alps 2020, our first mother and daughter team were first to summit!

Before she left for Verbier, Katie Henderson, the challenge’s youngest skier (aged just 20!) said the length of the challenge was 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.”

They all took on the exhausting training without complaint, nearly got snowed in on the mountain multiple times, had blisters, sores, exhaustion and lots of laughter along the way. They each climbed 8.848 metres, the height of Everest, on skis, in four long days.

TV’s Phil Spencer took on the challenge for the third time – a real testament to the sense of achievement the challenge brings. Phil said:

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.

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.”

If anyone is under any illusions of how tough the challenge is, check out Rob’s video on Day 3 of the 2020 challenge:

If you're wondering why people take on epic challenges like Everest in the Alps, this is the reason. ☝️Our founder Rob...

Posted by Everest in the Alps on Thursday, 6 August 2020

From sign up to leaving the UK, our team had been in touch with all the participants, keeping up with their training and doing all we could to support their fundraising.

We also sent a care package of essentials to each person to help them complete the challenge – including sun cream and energy bars for all! The Brain Tumour Charity’s high profile supporters including Lewis Moody and Hal Cruttenden sent videos to support the team, as did our Young Ambassadors and staff.

The team summited in record time and there was a huge cheer back in the UK as we received the updates that everyone was safely across the finish line. The medals were well deserved after a gruelling four days of climbing!

What next?

Just after the team returned from Verbier, the UK went into lockdown and sadly we haven’t been able to celebrate the team’s amazing achievements in person. However we know that the team, the Everest Centre and The Brain Tumour Charity won’t stop working for a world where brain tumours are defeated.

You can find out more about the work of the Everest Centre here including plans for a Europe-wide clinical trial, the first to evaluate the impact of low grade brain tumours and their treatment in children.

Brain tumours haven’t paused during Covid-19 and neither has The Brain Tumour Charity, supporting our community and continuing to fund ground breaking research. If you want to be part of this amazing challenge and help to change the landscape for children diagnosed with a low grade brain tumour sign up to Everest in the Alps 2021 today!

Anna Rae Dowling