2021 Mt Himlung Ascent
Getting extraordinarily Gutsy for GI Cancer Research
In 2015 the first Gutsy Challenge team, led by AGITG-GI Cancer Institute Deputy-Chair Professor Niall Tebbutt, scaled the heights of Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895m.
In 2017 a team of intrepid mountaineers, also led by Niall, scaled Mt Aconcagua – the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas at 6,960m.
In 2021, Niall and team will be taking on another high altitude, extreme mountaineering climb, ascending to extraordinary heights. This time they will scale the 7,126m mountain Mt Himlung in Nepal.
Mt Himlung is located in the Manaslu region of Nepal, which is considered one of the most remote corners of the mountain country at the border between Nepal and Tibet. The climb is a steep and icy ascent, and since its opening in 1992 only a handful of teams have successfully completed it.
Two of the team members, Professor Niall Tebbutt and Dr Matt Burge, are researchers who conduct clinical trials for the AGITG-GI Cancer Institute. They both climbed Mt Aconcagua in 2017 with John Deadman and Jason Long, who are also taking on Mt Himlung Himal. Three new members have also joined – Dr Lara Lipton, Jasmine Lipton and Dr Simone Steel.
Following months of training, including ‘practice’ climbs scaling icy peaks in New Zealand, to master the technical expertise and fitness level that is required to climb Mt Himlung Himal, the team will take on the 28 day climb to reach the summit. This is a remarkable effort on the part of the members of this team to raise much needed funds for GI cancer research.
“We are undertaking this noteworthy Gutsy Challenge to raise funds to support innovative and vital research so that we can continue to provide better treatments for people living with GI Cancer,” said Professor Niall Tebbutt. “We need your support in helping us reach the top so that we can achieve our ultimate aim of making GI cancer a disease of the past.”
GI cancer includes cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder and biliary tract, pancreas, large and small bowel and rectum and anus.
Over 28,900 Australians diagnosed every year, with 38 Australians dying every day.
All funds raised will support the Innovation Fund, which is designed to provide new clinical trial opportunities for patients with GI cancer.
“When Niall and Lara first approached me with the Himlung challenge I wasn’t sure if I was up to it – raising funds for gastro-intestinal cancer and climbing a 7,000m Himalayan peak. But whose lives have not been touched by cancer? I have watched family and friends battle the disease with such strength and grace – I figure if they can do that, I can do my bit to help raise awareness and funds for much needed research.”
Jason Long first heard about the Gutsy Challenge on a mountaineering course in the Snowy Mountains in 2017. He met two members of the Mt Aconcagua Gutsy Challenge team, and he was so inspired by the cause he decided to sign up. Jason is back to take on an even bigger challenge for GI cancer research.
John Deadman & Lara Lipton
Associate Professor Lara Lipton is an oncologist and GI cancer specialist who is involved on developing the GI Cancer Institute’s clinical trials. Having been involved in these clinical trials firsthand, she climbed Mt Aconcagua in 2017 with her husband John to support GI cancer research. In 2020 Lara will climb to base camp at Mt Himlung Himal, while John will take on the summit.
Dr Matthew Burge is a medical oncologist who conducts clinical trials for the GI Cancer Institute. In 2017, he was part of the team that climbed Mt Aconcagua in Argentina to raise awareness and much-needed funds for GI cancer research. He is also the Principal Investigator of the MONARCC clinical trial, helping to improve outcomes for elderly bowel cancer patients.
Associate Professor Niall Tebbutt is the Deputy Chair of the GI Cancer Institute & AGITG. He climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in 2015 and Mt Aconcagua in 2017 to raise funds for the GI Cancer Institute – Mt Himlung Himal is his next challenge. He is currently the Principal Investigator of the MODULATE and LIBERATE clinical trials conducted by the GI Cancer Institute, finding the best treatments for bowel cancer patients.
Dr Simone Steel is a medical oncologist at Eastern Health and Peninsula Private Hospital. Through her practice, she has developed an interest in gastro-intestinal cancer research. She is climbing Mt Himlung to raise awareness and funds that will improve outcomes for her patients.