TWO rugby league veterans will be tackling the toughest challenge of their lives as they take part in a charity expedition to Mount Everest.

Ade Gardner – the former Great Britain and England international – and best friend Anthony Horton – the ex-Barrow Raiders and Walney Central player – are part of a group heading to Nepal.

The 40-strong party will be raising money for the Steve Prescott Foundation, a charity set up by the former St Helens and Hull player, who battled cancer for several years before his death in 2013.

Gardner, who made more than 350 professional appearances for Barrow, St Helens and Hull KR, and Horton, will fly out to Asia in October and climb to Everest base camp, before ascending the nearby Kala Patthar peak.

Walneyite Gardner, who returned to the island to play for Walney South in the Origin match against Walney North last month, is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“There was an expedition to Kilimanjaro and they set a record for the highest rugby league match played.

“We’re trying to go one better this year,” said Gardner, who is set to be joined on the expedition by the likes of former RL stars Alan Hunte, Lee Briers and Iestyn Harris.

“I can’t wait to do it. There are quite a few lads I’m good mates with doing it and I’m really looking forward to it.

“We’re all going through the training. I’ve climbed Scafell a couple of times and I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which is pretty tough, but I’ve not got experience of anything like this.

“We’ve been provided with a guide who has helped us with what to expect and how we can deal with the altitude, which is going to be the biggest thing.

“They have an altitude chamber at Liverpool John Moores, which we use quite regularly in our pre-season work and they have allowed us to use that for training sessions, so we know what to expect when we go up the mountain.”

The seven-day trek to Everest base camp – at 17,600ft – will be followed by an ascent of Kala Patthar, which reaches a height of 5,643m (18,514ft).

Gardner and Horton have helped organise a charity night at the Nines, in Barrow, on Saturday, July 23, to raise money towards the trip.

It will see two players from all the South Cumbrian amateur RL clubs taking part in trials based on those featured on the TV Show I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.

Players will be tasked with consuming some less than appetising foodstuffs, with the winning club being rewarded with a wealth of rugby league equipment provided by Rhino Rugby.

“There will be bush-tucker trials and stuff like that,” said Gardner, who is now on the back-room staff at Saints. “There will be two players from each of the clubs and we’ve teamed up with Rhino so there is a load of kit to give out to the clubs. It can go to the junior sections or the club’s themselves, so they will get something back.”

Tickets for the charity night, which starts at 7.30pm, cost £7 each and are available from the Nines or from local amateur clubs. Tickets purchased from the clubs will see £2 go back to them.

There will also be entertainment and a raffle on the night.