Alpine climber's grief at avalanche tragedy

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Staff reporter

A MAN feared missing after the catastrophic avalanche in the French Alps has spoken of his sadness, despite the relief that greeted him when he turned up safe.

Dave Compton said he and his climbing mate were half an hour behind the group caught up in the disaster on Mont Maudit, which claimed the lives of nine people, including three Britons.

While he did not see the actual avalanche, the 41-year-old from Ellesmere Port did witness the aftermath – climbers assembled either side of what would have been the beaten track.

That, coupled with strong winds, persuaded him to turn back towards Chamonix.
But Mr Compton did not realise there was a search party out for him or the scale of the tragedy until he saw the news.

He said: “We got back to Chamonix and had showers and got our kit sorted out.
“Then we realised the gravity of the situation when we saw the news so we went straight down to the mountain guides’ association and reported that we were still alive.

“They were very relieved, obviously. It was basically two people they didn’t have to look for.

“They expected us to be on that route but they didn’t know what time we would be setting off.”

Mr Compton said he called his wife – who was “very relieved” although she had not been aware of the situation – as soon as he returned from the mountain, as he had always done during his seven years as a climber.

Mr Compton spoke of his own sadness, saying: “I feel a little down because people that I have had a lot in common with have died.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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